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Author Topic: Real History As Fiction  (Read 7728 times)
Doug DePew
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2011, 05:59:22 PM »

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres as well. I agree that Gary Jennings did it as well as anyone ever. The "Aztec" books are among my favorite novels of all time.

I don't parse for details when I'm reading them. I'm a historian by profession, and I appreciate good research. If a word is off, it doesn't bother me, though. I just enjoy the story for what it is. However, when an author gets it exactly right...it's magic.

I've never been one to enjoy entertainment with a critical eye. Some people freak out if a tiny detail is wrong in a book or a movie, but that robs the enjoyment out of it for me. If the story is good, I will enjoy it. I read real history if I want precise details. I'll check their sources in real history. I read historical fiction for enjoyment.
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Jaleta Clegg
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2011, 07:23:05 PM »

I love this thread!  One of my pet peeves is inappropriate language (and I don't mean cursing, either).

To have a 15th century knight say "Okay" makes me grit my teeth!

There are a million other examples, but that one does the job.

I completely agree with this, but it is a hard one. I tried very hard to keep modern slang out of my science fiction books. But it still has to sound high tech and modern. So many times I wanted to have the characters say, "Okay" but it didn't fit. I had to find other ways to say it.

This is one of the reasons I love to mock "A Knight's Tale." What an utter mishmash of costumes, vernacular, culture, and everything else. It's also just a fun movie to watch.
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Darcia Helle
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« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2011, 06:06:52 AM »

'Lamb'  -  Christopher Moore

But, those three words speak for themselves.  It's the story of Christ's youth, as told by his cousin/best friend Biff.  Grin

Joel, did you like the book? I've never heard of it, though it sounds like an interesting read.

I don't parse for details when I'm reading them. I'm a historian by profession, and I appreciate good research. If a word is off, it doesn't bother me, though. I just enjoy the story for what it is. However, when an author gets it exactly right...it's magic.

I've never been one to enjoy entertainment with a critical eye. Some people freak out if a tiny detail is wrong in a book or a movie, but that robs the enjoyment out of it for me. If the story is good, I will enjoy it. I read real history if I want precise details. I'll check their sources in real history. I read historical fiction for enjoyment.

Doug, I agree about reading nonfiction for sources or if you want the "truth" of a certain event or historical figure. (Sometimes I question how accurate history truly is.) I don't intentionally seek errors but certain things done wrong yank me right from the story. It's not that I won't go back to and enjoy the writing but I begin to question things, particularly if that error was an obvious thing that any author should have known. Someone who has never read a history book should probably not write historical fiction.

I feel that way with details, whether I'm reading historical, modern or sci-fi fiction. It has to make sense. Was it Tom Clancy who said, "The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."

I completely agree with this, but it is a hard one. I tried very hard to keep modern slang out of my science fiction books. But it still has to sound high tech and modern. So many times I wanted to have the characters say, "Okay" but it didn't fit. I had to find other ways to say it.

Jaleta, I think you sci-fi and futuristic writing allows you more leeway. Obviously, none of us know how we'll be speaking or what the world will be like in 50 or 200 years. But, as you said, it has to sound right. If it doesn't sound right to you, it probably won't sound right to readers, either.
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Joel Kirkpatrick
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« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2011, 10:23:55 AM »

Well, Darcia, Chris is an acquired taste. If you like over the top camp and satire - and a young John the Baptist suffering with a personal rash from spending too much time waist-deep in the river...... Lamb is a romp and a hoot.
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When America Slew Her King is crap. Don't buy it!
Darcia Helle
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2011, 10:30:20 AM »

A personal rash? Ha! I have to read this one. This also sounds like the perfect read for both of my sons. One copy off to Canada and one for me to share with the one remaining at home.  Smiley
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MPJacobs
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« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2011, 09:11:31 PM »

My next Novella due at the end of 2011: 'How Teddy Roosevelt slew the last mighty T-Rex' Shocked Grin 
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Joel Kirkpatrick
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« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2011, 09:34:12 PM »

My next Novella due at the end of 2011: 'How Teddy Roosevelt slew the last mighty T-Rex' Shocked Grin 

You started this thread, to pressure me. Didn't you DeeCee?  Wink
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When America Slew Her King is crap. Don't buy it!
Darcia Helle
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« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2011, 05:44:13 AM »

Mark, now that is an interesting spin on history!  Grin

Joel, you caught me. The things I'll do to bring you out of hiding...  Wink
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WestofMars
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« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2011, 09:26:21 AM »

Jaleta, one of the things that makes A Knight's Tale so much fun is the inaccuracies.I thought they were intentional, though? Am I remembering wrong?
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Jaleta Clegg
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« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2011, 11:41:30 AM »

Susan, I don't know if they did it deliberately or not, but I agree that A Knight's Tale is a fun movie. I'm just afraid for those people who think it's historically accurate in any way.

I also like the tv show Merlin even though it suffers just as badly from inaccuracies. I just think of them as fantasies, then it's okay.

Joel, I've heard about "Lamb" but haven't read it yet. I've got a couple other books by Christopher Moore that I enjoy.
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tgahan
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« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2011, 07:04:13 AM »

Hi -- I'm new here. Historical fiction is my favorite to read and write. I actually love doing the reserach. Going to historic sites gives me the vibe and the facts.
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Darcia Helle
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« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2011, 08:01:22 AM »

Hi Tom! We're happy you've joined us.  Feel free to post your own thread in the 'Introduce Yourself' section and tell us all about yourself. Smiley

Funny how some authors love doing research, while others find that the worst part. I love to research things, though often those things have nothing to do with what I'm writing. But you never know when that information will be useful.  Grin

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Doug DePew
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« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2011, 12:14:27 PM »

This is perhaps my favorite vein of fiction - verifiable details, given the freedom of new characters. Garry Jennings did it brilliantly with 'Aztec'.

Same here. I love historical fiction. Jennings is one of my favorites.
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Julie Thomas
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« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2011, 04:52:15 PM »

This thread really interests me. I catagorise my novel as mainsteam fiction as it has a bit of history and a bit of contemporary, but the historical element contains both real people and fictional characters.

As has been said here, the key is research. In almost every known historical event you will find some fascinating real people, if you look hard enough. It took me seven years to research and write "The Secret Keeper."

My whole premise is based on a real violin and what happened to it. I reference composers all the way through and Shostakovitch is a character. So is Marhall Zhukov and a variety of other Soviets, like Stalin. I invented General Valentino who served with Zhukov. And the German resistance in Berlin, it is referenced and all the people I mention were real. Some characters are combinations of many real people who did similar things.

One of my main characters is a Spanish conductor and he is based on Maestro Placido Domingo. Many people know he sings, but he also conducts, magnificently and I have seen him conduct several times. He has the charisma and musical knowledge to form a perfect basis for the character.

I play with events and people but within a meticulously researched framework. The Dachau chapters took almost a year by themselves to research and the characters are composites. The US serviceman, through who's eyes we see the liberation of Dachau, does exist and his published diary was a huge help.

It can be quite hard to go back to writing purely from imagination, in a contemporary context, when your life has been so full of these amazing historical characters!

Cheers

Julie
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 04:53:46 PM by Julie Thomas » Logged

FrancesP
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« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2012, 08:23:08 AM »

Lamb would easily qualify as one of, if not my single, favorite book of all time. Best opening line ever as well. "The first time I met the Messiah, he had a dead lizard in his mouth." (that's a paraphrase as some evil wretch has stolen my copy)

Does it get better than that?

Frances
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