Last night at the Wednesday writer’s cafe, we started talking about what topics from Norwescon I still had in my little notebook to cover for my blog. When I got to Writing with Historical Accuracy, my dear friend David asked just what is historical accuracy and why should anyone care?
The second part of that question is easier to answer than the first. If a writer is taking the time to write historically based fiction, they obviously care about the history. And as a reader if you pick a historically based piece of fiction you care as well. Otherwise you’re just writing fiction. Speaking as a realist, you either have the history bug or you don’t. shrug. Dusting off hands, moving on.
So now to tackle the first part. I went to a number of panels at Norwescon that provided historical information. I’ll try to merge it all together here into one sort of historical interest list.
-Try to make the circumstances fit your character.
-Roll your well researched historical details into your plot points, so they don’t just feel like window dressings.
Army infantry moves at about 1 km a hour if you want them to be able to fight when they get to their destination. For further information about movement rates, water and food requirements http://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-05-213.pdf. Happy Reading.
Women who fought:
23% of the soldiers in Victorian England were women.
The binding of feet in China was a response to how brutal the women were as soldiers.
Japan had entire female armies of the Samurai class.
During the religious crusades, the Muslims buried their female warriors as honored combatants.
Did you know in a given county in early rural European states the wagons were made to the width of the ruts in the road, reinforcing said ruts. Made it hard to go across multiple counties in one go.
Until the 1800’s if you were poor you ate out. Kitchen construction and cooking fuel were expensive.
When traveling, an inn would not provide you with a plate or bowl for your stew. Those were expensive. In fact they were an excellent way to store your wealth, metal plates. Enjoy your crust of bread with stew in it.
Looking back I don’t feel like the panel on Historical Accuracy really talked about how to be accurate or why you should be accurate. So I’ll say this on how. Research. I spent 3 months last year researching for my Nano novel, and that was just a fluffy little chick lit/romance piece. Go to your library, make friends with the librarian. Get really familiar with the catalog system to your library. I have found by playing with my keyword search and choosing an abundance of sorting characteristics I find books I had no idea would be a gold mine of information. Then read. Read. Read. Read.
Final thought, when all else fails find a historian for your time period, make friends with them, keep them in drinks, buy them dinner, clean their house, so they keep feeding you interesting historically accurate information to hang your plot on.