Writing

Guardians of the History

I am a member of the Historical and Time Slip Novels Book Club, and several recent posts concerned historical authenticity in novels.

Do writers of historical fiction have a responsibility to their readers to represent accurately that period of history they are writing about?

I am Groot

The answer is yes, but, like the other members of the group, I have seen writers make major mistakes. The question then is, why do they make them? Time constraints? Laziness? Or just human error? The last is forgivable. We all make unwitting mistakes, and they are all too easy to make when writing about the past. Writing under a deadline could also pass as an excuse, as long as the anachronism isn’t too jarring.

Laziness, though, is unacceptable. Most information is readily available online. It just requires a few words typed into a search engine. Also, almost every time period will have a few well-researched texts, monographs, and archaeological reports that can be used as references. I’ve read my fair share. Most irksome to me is misuse of language. A modern word will yank the reader out of the scene you have crafted. Look at the etymology if you are unsure.

Think of your historical novel as a living textbook and the readers your students. The history you are presenting to them will be unique. The rich details of everyday life in the past are seldom taught at school, so your work should be as accurate as you can make it. 

 

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