Saturday, May 16, 2009
A Question for authors and readers
Here’s a question for you. How much history can a romance writer alter for the sake of a story without being accused of betraying his/her craft?
I’ve given this a lot of thought, because I’ve done just that, intentionally. With Heartsong, the medieval from the 13th century, I had my hero going into Wales for hostages. Taking hostages was a practice used during the medieval ages, but there is no record I could find of Edward I seeking hostages from Wales. I also changed his son’s birth a year to make the timeline fit my story.
When I first began to write, I had the scene of a US Civil War battle wrong. I caught the mistake, and it was my mistake, before the book saw the light of day. Now, even I would consider that poor research on the author's part. But, I still wonder if a historical romance author can alter the date of an event or a character's participation in an event, without an avalanche of objections being heaped on her/his head.
I agree, there are some events, some occasions as an author you cannot alter. An example might be the date of a war's beginning or ending, the corination of a king or queen, or their deaths. But, I know writers who have included a book character in a event or at a particular occasion and I suspect many will continue to be do so because, after all, it’s fiction. My concern is how much can an author alter?
The reason I'm asking is simple. In one of my books in process, I have my hero coming up with a plan to stop the great London fire. Can I do that, or is it stretching the truth a bit too far? After all, it certainly wasn't his idea because I made him up.
I'd love to hear your opinion.
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