If you are around authors or readers, questions might come up about different books and if they are historically correct or not.
I read a book recently written by a popular author, and published by a well known publishing house, but as I read, I felt the gnawing of uncertainty. Would this have really happened? Would they have actually done such and such during this time period? Because it was a well known author, I wanted to believe it. But all my reading and research was saying something else. Who was right?
Have you ever felt that way? Or am I the only one who rants and raves over historically inaccurate books?
- Are there any good reasons to keep your books historically accurate?
- Does it even matter? Some people say no.
- Should someone reading a non-accurate “historical fiction” book leave a review saying so?
- Would anyone even notice if it wasn’t accurate? Yes!
Here are 5 reasons for keeping your writing historically accurate:
1. You don’t want to disappoint.
When a book is labeled “historical fiction” it gives the readers a reason to expect accuracy and if the book doesn’t fulfill those expectations, the reader will be disappointed. And disappointed readers . . .
2. You could lose sales.
If your reader discovers glaring historical inaccuracies in your work when they were expecting real life, it’s highly probable that they won’t come back for more. I’ve read some books where the inaccuracies were so obvious that I wasn’t interested in any other books by that author.
3. You give your readers a false view of history.
A reader who isn’t a history buff is very likely going to believe whatever a book says. For example, my best friend isn’t that into history and she told me that if she reads it in a book, then in her mind it must be true, even if it isn’t.
4. People believe everything you write.
If you are well known (like the author I read), people will believe that the way you said things happened, was the way things really happened, even if the idea is completely modern and no one back then would have spoken/acted that way. (You probably wouldn’t be able to get away with cars during the Civil War, but the way people talked is a big one! And it drives me nuts!)
5. This is how History is changed.
Believe it or not, authors are greatly responsible for the the changes in our history books. Yes, it also has to do with political correctness, but authors help it along. By making your story inaccurate (politically correct perhaps), yet saying it is “historical fiction,” gives added “proof” to your readers that things happened differently than they did. That people talked and acted just like they do now, that words, phrases, and such were the same back then as they are now. Even if you don’t label it “historical fiction” but set it in a certain time in history, the readers are going to expect it to be historical.
Please don’t revise history!
Does it matter to you if your books are historically accurate or not? Do you tend to believe other writers when they write “historical fiction” or do you sometimes doubt? I’d love to know your thoughts.