BLOGWORDS – Friday 15 July 2016 – RESEARCH and HISTORICAL ACCURACY
RESEARCH and HISTORICAL ACCURACY
“Father wouldn’t let them have a television. He was content to listen to news of the war on the Zenith radio sitting on the floor next to his chair in the front room. He didn’t like the new-fangled telephone either, and refused to pay good money for a service he deemed unnecessary.
Libby was a quiet girl, and played happily by herself most days, with her baby dolls and Barbie ™ dolls.
Libby was a good girl, and always helped Mother set the table. She liked cooking, and especially liked sitting alongside as Mother sewed her new dresses for school. Libby would begin first grade in the fall, and Father had already taken her shopping with Mother to buy new filly socks and black Mary Janes. Mother had already cut her hair in a cute bob, and bought her new barrettes and ribbons.”
Did you spot it? The egregious error smack in the middle of that little interlude? Once upon a time I was writing mine own story which a) turned into a saga (the above was a snippet of my mother’s childhood) and b) will not see publication for reasons of things I’d just rather not publish.
But I digress. There is a historical inaccuracy in my little telling. And I age myself in enlightening you. I was born in 1959, my mother in 1939. Barbie™ and I are the same age….. Therefore, the rail thin fashion doll was not around when my mother was a child.
That’s one that I ‘just happen’ to be aware of because of her debut year is the same as my debut year.
But what of other factoids and trivia?
I rewrote this for the purpose of this post, added details, clues, like Mary Jane shoes and the Zenith radio. Mary Janes I knew, radio models not so much. To Google I went!
I love restoring things. Old furniture, worn out jeans or dresses that no longer fit. Scrapbooking! Saving those memories in a keepsake format. As an artist, I could use anything in my art!
One of my design passions is restoring historical landmarks—or ordinary historical homes for that matter—to the integrity of the era in which they were built.
In order to do that, as a designer, I have to know—research, study—that era, whenever that might be.
Victorian? Find articles (and Pinterest boards!) on culture, lifestyle, available technology from 1837 – 1901. Perhaps there was tribute to Queen Victoria for whom the era was named.
What of the culture and technology of World War II? How would a new home or business differ from Regency or Edwardian? What of millwork, stonework, layouts?
And how does this apply to writing?
As in my opening example, culture and social norms were not as they are now. Slang and jargon, colloquialism and syntax and vernacular change from region to region and country to country, and generation to generation.
Mexicans and Spaniards do not run around all day yelling, “Olé!” Germans say more than, “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Edelweiss.” And Brits don’t bellow, “Bloody hell!” all day long.
“Friend request” and “LOL” were not heard of a hundred years ago. And we (most of us anyway) don’t typically go for a “turn about the garden” when we mean “go for a walk” or “quit a room” when we exit that room.
And fashion is another subject entirely.
Proper terminology for articles of clothing offers believability and credence to a story. And, in the author’s experience at least, requires some degree of research. As I delve more into historical settings for my stories, so, too, will my research increase—good thing I love my research as I do!
What about you?
What faux pas have you realized in your writing? What “wickedly gleeful” faux pas have you found when reading a published novel or article? (I say wickedly gleeful because it relieves the ridiculous notion that every manuscript must be perfect. Because I realize that others make mistakes and I’ll not be expelled from author-dom if—nay, when I make little mistakes!)
Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years. Her characters face many of these same demons.
Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.
Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016. Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.
Blogwords, Stories by Design, Research, Research and Historical Accuracy, Zenith, Queen Victoria, Auf Wiedersehen, Bloody Hell, Historical Landmarks, LOL, Wickedly Gleeful