Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Historical Accuracy vs Literary License?

Nothing starts arguments on writers' loops and email groups faster than the discussion about whether writers - especially of historicals - can change history or the facts or not? Over the weekend, I presented a workshop to writer about this topic....and the discussion was. . . lively!

   I know when I was only a reader - before the need to tell stories struck - I loved learning historical tidbits and then going off to find out more. An unfamiliar place or king. Something I'd never read before. An intriguing bit about a historical event. All of those would send me looking for more information. And spending hours and hours reading about those bits. And remember, this was mostly before the internet, so it meant going to the library or looking in (shocking!) the encyclopedia! 

   I didn't mind if I discovered the author had changed something, not if the storytelling had kept me turning pages, unable to stop reading. I liked the occasional challenges and the intriguing lure of more facts to learn. 

And then I became a fiction writer and I needed to decide how I would approach all that alluring REAL history when writing my stories. 

My decision -- to know the real history but to change, mold, twist, revise it as needed to make my story work!  BUT - in deference to those who are offended by that approach, I do add an Author's Note to explain any liberties I might have taken....

How about you? Do you get twitchy when an author goes rogue and changes history? Do you care if it's accurate if the story has held you prisoner or only when glaring changes or errors happen? 

Terri is thrilled that her current book is being featured in many retails stores along with bonus content. And, her last book - The Highlander's Dangerous Temptation is being promoted for the next two weeks at a special price - 99¢!! Visit her FB page or profile for more info and links! 


Liz Flaherty said...

As long as the author "leaves a note," I'm good with some literary license. The only historical I ever wrote required me to do that. If there IS no note, I tend to think the writer didn't know any better and didn't take the time to find out. This is probably completely unfair, but I doubt I'm the only one who feels that way. I'd have loved to have been at that workshop!

Peggy Henderson said...

I do the same thing - I research my historical facts, and change them to suit the story, and I always put the changes I made in a Dear Reader letter. In one of my series, which is part time travel (and the entire series follows the historical events that led to the creation of our first national park), the historical events are accurate, but my fictional characters were major players in those events, and I had to play with a few dates.