Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Historical accuracy

Yesterday I came to a stopping point where I had to consult the historian, my mother. My protagonist must rescue her brother from prison. I didn't know she needed to rescue her brother until just a couple of days ago, so this is a completely unexpected turn of events for us all.

This morning I sat down with my water and my music and with pants on, I began to stare at my computer. And that's when I realized that I have no idea what a prison in this era would look like.

So I call my mom, who is a history teacher with a specialization in this particular historical era. She also does not watch movies very often. So here is an excerpt from our conversation:

ME: How would you break someone out of that kind of prison?
MOM: It's not very well guarded. He could just attack some guards. Or dig a tunnel.
ME: No, I need someone else to break him out.
MOM: But he could easily just dig a tunnel. Or attack some of the guards.
ME: But he doesn't. He gets rescued.
MOM: I suppose someone could pretend to be bringing him food and then sneak him out. It would be pretty easy.
ME: No I need my protagonist to kick ass breaking him out.
MOM: He wouldn't really need to. The guards would be old. He'd really just be able to dig a tunnel or attack some of the guards.

She's adorable.

Anyhow, she gave me some great information too. It turns out that my male protagonist that I made up in my head is exactly like a real person who lived in this place at this time, and the real person did cooler stuff than what I was going to make him do. So I just used that handy name change feature on Movie Magic and bam! Historical accuracy here we come.

When it comes to historical fiction I prefer my stories realistic. I don't like it when a story just doesn't fit the facts, so as long as a story is plausible I'm okay, but I hate it when a story is impossible. I want to get as much right here as I can and still have a story about an ass-kicking lady ninja. Kind of like those old stories where the author opened with OMG this is so fucking true you'll be like no way! but way!

The story is completely not true, but for a second you think it is because the author was so adamant about it.

So I spent yesterday going back through my pages so far changing things to fit my new information, which unfortunately ended me with the exact same page count even though I did lots of work. I still have a few more pages to adjust before I can move forward, too, so it will be another day maybe before I can get to page 60.

That means I'll probably have to wait until Thursday to see 9, since that was my reward for getting to page 60. But I've been able to flesh out my story with many more historical details. That had been bothering me for a while, that it felt like only eight people lived in this town. After talking to my mom, I was able to add in a whole cast of extras.

Thanks, Mom.


  1. Your mom rocks, btw.

  2. I think so too, James.

  3. I agree that when you do your job, it seems REAL!! I had a ProdCo - which conveniently shuttered - say exactly that while giving ME a recommend.

    Well the statement was "I hope that wasn't a true story."

    I make everything up. For that one I had to research a whole college major, date rape drugs, private companies boards of directors, etc.

    That's why I always put in two weeks for research.

  4. Can the protagonist also wear a suit made of aluminum foil?

  5. Even Jesus wore aluminum foil, everybody knows that.


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