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BE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE IN YOUR WRITING


By CarolynCHolland(9,534) CarolynCHolland

Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by CarolynCHolland


Click on THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW: Things Writers Should Know to read the latest post on writing, posted in the Beanery Online Literary Magazine, Volume 2 at www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com and filed in the category WRITING ARTICLES.

---written by Carolyn C. Holland

When writing a historical piece or novel, it’s important to write accurately about the era in which it occurs.

I’m writing a novel that extends from about 1785 to 1845, but mostly 1791-1798. Geographically, it extends from revolutionary France to Alexandria, along the Va./Philadelphia, Pa./Boston, Ma., to Scioto County, Ohio and finally to Lamoine, Maine. Characters include upper echelon Frenchmen (including Jean-Jacques d"Epermesnil, William de la Roche and Talleyrand) and Americans (including Henry Jackson, Henry Knox, William Duer and George Washington). Note: I didn't know these names before doing my research.

What is today wasn’t in the late 1700s, I soon discovered. After writing several scenes I realized---the site wasn’t Lamoine, Maine, in the 1790s. It was Trenton, Massachusetts. Back to the drawing board I went to do historically correct writing! I realized I had to research the land as it was back then, which meant using maps and references.

Names of towns change. My community became a borough in 1982. Before that it was part of a township. When writing about community residents or the history of the community, the town name must be consistent with the era.

Language was different too. Many of the documents I’ve found are in French---1790s French, which differs, of course, from the modern language. It’s bad enough that I don’t do today’s language---even French teachers are challenged by the old language!

The same is true of English. How did they speak along the 1790s Atlantic seacoast?
I was admonished about a 1789 scene in the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston. Fortunately I had the original documents used to craft the dialogue. Much to everyone’s surprise, the leaders of that time used pretty intelligent language and "my" created dialogue wasn’t out of character.

Even when writing articles set in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s you must be cognizant of the language and setting. Using today’s colloqialisms used in 1950s dialogue will discredit your writing.

Pay attention to detail. SOMEONE reading your material will pick up on your errors and you will lose credibility.

To read other articles on writing in the Beanery Online Literary Magazine, Volume 1, web hosted at www.ProBlogs.com/beanerywriters, scroll down the site or click onto the following:

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, or WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT
Whose Story Is It?
BE HISTORICALLY CORRECT
Self-Publishing
Who Cares?
Censorship?
DEVELOPING CHARACTERS IN NOVEL WRITING
MY EDITOR, MY MENTOR



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Posted to ProBlogs.com on Thursday, January 24, 2008
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