(Writers/editors only) When writing a story, is it better to include specific details about historical events or no?
I'm writing a fictional book, and it starts out in an ancient Rome style empire. For the most part, its military structure and governmental ruling is the same, and I have specific details which I could include to make such things very realistic, but the readers might not understand or lose interest because of all the research they would have to do. Opinions?
- SpeedLv 71 month agoBest Answer
You're talking about world building, in which you make how your fictional world works clear to the reader.
It's important for your reader to understand this, but they'll stop reading in a heartbeat if you do it in an info-dump. What you need to do is work in the details before the reader needs them to comprehend something, as part of an ongoing scene. If you stop to explain politics or military matters in an authorial lecture, your reader will look for something more interesting.
I've read two masterful examples of this in recent months. Check out Andy Weir's "Artemis" (a fast read and does what you're asking about very well) and then "Clash of Eagles" by Alan Smale (an alternate history novel in which Rome is a world power in the present day).
There are lots of fine examples of how to make this work.
- LiliLv 71 month ago
Evidently, you are not familiar with historical novels. I strongly suggest that you read some, because they'll teach you how best to combine historical details with fictional situations and characters.
There are entire series set in ancient Rome and its imperial territories.
Many readers love historical novels. They have no problem with doing some extra research inspired by such a novel, assuming the time and place are real, not merely manufactured by the author, so that there's actually material available to be read.
- bluebellbkkLv 71 month ago
You say it's 'an ancient Rome style empire' but if you're thinking of including actual historical events, then surely it isn't 'an ancient Rome style empire' but the actual Roman empire. So why not just set it in the Roman empire?
On the other hand if you didn't really mean 'historical events'as such, but only background like how many men in a legion, or what uniform a centurion wore, then do what you like. But I really don't see why your readers would ahve to 'do research'. Surely it's YOUR job as the author to do any necessary research, and make it clear to your readers what's going on.
- TinaLv 71 month ago
I am not clear on this. Why, if you are including specific details would your readers have to research them?
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- AndrewLv 71 month ago
If your fictional world bears so many similarities to Ancient Rome, why not just set it there? One of the most grating annoyances about amateur fantasy is how unimaginative it is. Authors copy another setting or culture and make it completely indistinguishable from the original, then add magic or sprinkle some unpronounceable gibberish thinking that will do the trick. If you want to write a story set in Ancient Rome, have at it. But if you want to create your own fantasy universe, you'll need to develop your own culture, political system, language, and present it in such a way that it seems authentic and consistent.
- PearlLv 71 month ago
depends on what you want to write about in the book
- 1 month ago
What seems to be the trouble mam?
- 1 month ago
I would say that if the details are relevant to your story, then yes, add them. That helps make your story realistic and different. If you want to just throw facts in there because you can, maybe not. The whole goal, especially in fiction, is to build a world that your characters inhabit and interact both with and in. Don't be afraid to let the world's description come out through character's actions and thoughts, so that way you don't have to always be telling the reader what they need to know
- 1 month ago
Have you ever read a historical novel? Like the "Wolf Hall" series by Hilary Mantel (set in Henry VIII's England) or the "Imperium" series by Robert Harris (set in the lifetime of Cicero in ancient Rome) or "Johnny Tremaine" (set during the American Revolution)? Read a few of those and see how they do it.
- Kate YelkovanLv 41 month ago
My friend Steve Guy is a professional writer, I'll get him over here.