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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

Fred's Blog


Accuracy with Historical Fiction

Posted on 23 February, 2012 at 3:00
I've been to Bergerac a few times. My WW2 books were inspired by the really quite moving inscriptions on the monument in the market square. Quotes from De Gaul and others, tributes to the local partisans who died. In the event, when I wrote the books - all tied into Bergerac in some way - I cheated a bit and rearranged the geography to suit he story, imagining where I would need certain buildings to suit the events. It isn't a history lesson, nor is it a holidamaker's guide book. I suppose, I could have stuck rigidly to the real place, but chose not to.
It raises the question whether, when you write fiction, you should always be accurate in your geography. I think not. I think you need to concentrate on the story and fit circumstantial detail to it or it doesn't flow.
I've written a number of Roman adventures too. I've never been to ancient Rome  but from research can describe some of the layout from maps of the day. Does that mean that my story is untennable? I don't think so. Character is plot they say. Create realistic, strong characters with a human, flawed side to them and your plot unfolds before your very eyes. You don't find yourself constantly asking 'would he/she really do that?'. As you write, you ask yurself instead what would I have done if I were him/her.
For those readers who go to Bergerac, to Beynac and beyond, ad find they can't find the mairie where I described it, well, I'm sorry, but it's northwest of the elongated, tree-lined market square.
The other thing that is hard to be accurate about is how long it takes to trave from one place to another, by car or walking, unless you've done the trip that way. By car from Bergerac to Lyon for example.
All I can say is, if it irritates my readers, I humbly apologise. I just try to tell stories.

Categories: Writing

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