As I ‘m back to editing my second time travel manuscript, with the help of my fabulous cp, the question I asked above has cropped up a few times. I’m a writer of historical novels, now whether that be a regency, medieval whatever, I like to write about the past. And as I’m looking through these line edits, one question more than most, keeps raising its little head.
How accurate should we be with our historical novels?
Remembering that the books I write are fiction. Hmmmm. My writing process starts with a germ of an idea. I’m a panster writer so, off that one idea a book eventually forms. I also research as I go. My resource library is starting to look quite nice and Google is a godsend. So, can I tweak history just a little to let my characters have their story as I see it? Or should I stick to what is essentially, “historically correct”.
For instance: Trews – or as we now call them – Pants. Is it a Scottish term or did the English use it as well? Some clothing books on fashion through the ages use the term for both locations. So, what’s right? Again, ???
Paintings – Middle ages for instance – I’ve been informed were mostly those of a religious bent. But in my story, I need a painting of the heroine’s parents. Will I get away with this, or will an agent or editor pick it up and say to change it. Again, ???
And then my hero in this particular book is a medieval Baron. I’m changing him gradually to someone readers will like and eventually love. But in “real life” would he have changed? Would he have aimed at a happily ever after in his marriage? Or would he have only cared his stomach was full as well as his coffers?
How far can we push history to bend it to what “we” would like to see and read? Books I realise have to be written historically correct. I get this, I do. The food they eat, how they eat it, dress, speech etc must be right. But can we tweak just a little the facts that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself. We will see I guess.
Happy writing and researching.