Write it now, part 29: the fictions of history

Matthew Wright

I posted last week on the need for accurate research in both fiction and non-fiction writing. That’s particularly true for any historical novel where the research has to be not just accurate, but also the right sort of research.

A detail that isn’t authentic blows the suspension of disbelief, and the details needed for fiction – the little everyday things, the background stuff that actors call ‘the business’ – aren’t the ones usually recorded in reference material. An eighteenth century letter-writer doesn’t describe how they dipped the ink, melted the wax and so forth, because that’s a given; unspoken parts of their lives. But a biographer might want to know that as they fill out the world of their subject – and so do novellists.

The same is true of a lot of little details about how people lived every day, what they did, even the technologies they used. Sometimes…

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