Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Perils of Dates.

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Good day, all,

Boy, oh, boy... the power of a dates! As those who follow this blog know, I am in the midst of writing my third manuscript and recently received it back from my editor. (And, yes, she again taught me the need for humility...)

In any case, as I was going through her edits, it struck me one of the dates in my novel could be incorrect. Was it ever! I had Texas as part of the United States in 1822 when it didn't even break away from Mexico until 1835, a decade before it was admitted into the Union.

Now this sounds like a little thing, I know, but it means a total rewrite of some 3,000 words and two characters. Oh, yeah, and any references to this throughout the entire novel. To one like me, this is a daunting task.

I mentioned this to a buddy and he said, "Ah, does it matter? Isn't a novel just one big lie anyway?" Oh, did I ever try to find solace in those words. But, no, if you're writing historical fiction, you've got to get the history part right.

Is there a lesson here? As with all things, of course there is. Edit, then edit some more and edit again. (Of course, you could just get it right the first time, but who does that?)

Back to the keyboard for me...

Okay, keep your eyes open and good writing.

By the way, here's a tidbit for your next cocktail party. (If anyone else is so old as to remember them.) Texas is the only state in the Union that flew six different national flags in its history; the United States, the Republic of Texas, Mexico, Spain, France and one other I can't remember right now.


  1. We had this discussion when I came down last summer and I mentioned some details out of whack (they weren't dates, but imaginary battles) and you said it's fiction (which emphasis on the whole word. I guess different people focus on different parts of historical fiction, some on the historical, some on the fiction. Best of luck with the edits.

  2. Hey, Ryan. With historical fiction you've got to have the history correct, but it's more the setting versus the storyline. For example, you'd better not have a soldier storming the beach at Normandy with a broadsword. Your reader would never accept that as possible. However, could that same fictitious soldier have fallen in love with your heroine, who never existed? Would they have to have met in a real town or could you fake, (fictionalize), the town?

    Keep the history real but the storyline fiction.

    Does that sound better?

    Boy, oh, Boy, but you do keep me on my toes, Ryan.

  3. Haha glad to be a help [pain]. Funny you should mention Normandy, I'm writing about Pointe Du Hoc and the Rangers there.