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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Historical Inaccuracies

One of the things I love most about writing historicals is the research, but it can also be the most irritating task. I have spent that last few months researching words, Kansas orphan laws, screen doors, cellars, stone houses, barb wire, Pinkerton Detectives, coal mines, railways and trains. Of course, I'm sure there are plenty more that I can't think of right now, like clothing, roofing and horses. Oh, I even researched dates for hymnals.

And wouldn't you know it that I didn't even consider whether or not peaches were in season during the manuscript I just submitted. Of course, this little tidbit didn't dawn on me until  a discussion occurred on one of my writer's loops, which brought up another fact that I had failed to research . . .

which Bible translation to use in my historical. I've never read anything other than New International. Who knew that the NIV didn't come into existence until the late 1960s? Certainly not me. Boy, was I embarrassed. But I have been assured by at least one person that my little faux pas won't cause the historically-accurate, lynching mob after me. 

So, have you ever discovered an inaccuracy after the fact? If so, what was it? What kinds of historical inaccuracies in books drive you absolutely nuts?

Happy Thursday,



Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi Christina,

In one MS, I was chugging along so excited that the words were flowing. Then I had to stop short, because I had a part of the MS with a train going through town. Did some quick research. The train never went through that town. So, I had to get my people on a stage to a town with a railroad stop. I was glad I found that when I did and not after I submitted.

One book I read kept calling the butte in Wyoming Crowheart Butte, and the story took place two years before the famous battle between the Crow and Shoshone tribes that gave the butte its name. It drove me nuts, and became about the only thing I remembered from the story.


Ashlyn Macnamara said...

I once read a book where the author had lilacs in bloom in the fall. So yeah, those things do slip by. To err is human. Stuff like that will pull me out of the story, but they're not usually deal-breakers unless they accumulate.

Paty Jager said...

History not so much but horse iaccuracies drive me nuts. withers and flanks are at opposite ends of a horse and a horse can't run/lope for hours. They can trot but not run.

I worte a train scene in a book then discovered there were no trains in that area at that time, so I had to change the timeline on my story when I couldn't make the scene work with a stage coach.

Renee said...

Kirsten, I probably never would have noticed the Crowhead Butte, but only because I'm not familiar with Wyoming.

One of the things I'm coming across in a few stories I'm plotting is the fact there are more than two sides of the story. And I was only taught one of them in school. I guess history can be subjective depending on which side of the line you live. *g*

Renee said...

Okay, Ashlyn, that would bother me. Last night I was digging for the timing for balsam flowers and fruit. Got to try and at least get that part right.

Renee said...

Paty, you kill me. That is too funny. Now you've got me wondering if I need to go back and check all my horse references.

When I was researching my story I found two different diary accounts with two different years listed as the date the end of the track came to town. I had to do some more digging and make a decision.

Caroline Clemmons said...

I also love research. By the way, NEVER use the Zondervan NIV quotes because you have to pay royalty to Zondervan for those--and they are as diligent about suing as is Disney. Safer to quote from King James version.

I hate innacuracies in novels, and wonder if the author was lazy or misinformed.

Renee said...

Caroline, that Zondervan information is good to know. I will definitely be changing any and all references to King James.