Sunday, 4 August 2013

The fight for historical accuracy...should we bother?

I've always, always fought for historical accuracy. Even in the weakest of moments, I've tried not to let things slip. Honestly, almost every detail is meticulously researched from the food on their plate (depending on where they live) to the scent of their perfume, to the flora and fauna of the area at that time. (Which is bloody hard to find out! England wasn't so diverse in nature at the time.) I'm not going to have my heroine picking a flower that didn't reach this country for another couple of hundred years!

But there is a need for artistic licence sometimes. For example, separate chambers were not all that common, particularly in early keeps. And if you were a noble, you probably had a servant sleep in your room. Doesn't bode well for sexy time together does it?

That said, I don't like to pop in chambers left, right and centre. I often work off real floor plans to help me understand exactly where my characters are so if I can find a castle that matches my needs and in the right time, then I will often use those.

But should I? Do I have an obligation to teach people about the past? I'm not a teacher or a lecturer or even a historian. I'm just someone with a real passion for the medieval era who has tried their hardest to learn everything they can about it.

Even well known historical writers like to play with the facts. And some of my popular colleagues admit to glossing over or even changing facts to suit them. As a writer we also have a duty to deliver the best product to our reader. So where do we draw the line between fact and fiction? How do we still keep our readers satisfied while ensuring accuracy? It's tricky and I've always been a real stickler for it but I find myself softening recently. I think it stems from a better understanding of what my readers want and growing to know the market.

But whether I can bring myself to let things slip by remains to be seen...

No comments:

Post a Comment