(For writers/editors only) How can I detail in a fiction book historical facts differently.?

I am currently writing a fiction book and for the life of me I can't get across the fact that I know absolutely no way to present the type of historical nation the starting nation is without saying things like "Castra Praetoria" or "Cohortes Urbanae." For obvious reasons I doubt you understand what those things mean, and likewise the readers might not either. This is an ancient Roman nation, and to tell the readers that I need to specify to them certain things, but when doing so they might not understand. Thoughts? 

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  • 1 month ago

    You may be surprised to know that many people other than yourself have studied Latin and are more than familiar with common phrases such as you mentioned. As you know what they mean, why on earth don't you simply use the English words that convey the same meaning?

    • Tina
      Lv 7
      1 month agoReport

      Ah, yes. "For obvious reasons" I *do* understand, but I really can't see the problem. JUST TRANSLATE.

  • Logan
    Lv 4
    1 month ago

    Some authors have indexes of all the words used when it's a niche kind of subject. Like John Flanagan puts in stuff about ships in his Brotherband Series, terms and their meanings so the reader isn't lost by the technical terms because his characters use the technical terms because they're sailors.

    So you can do something like that. Another thing is you can find the English or the dumber equivalent of the word and use that.

    Or you can just put it in and those who get bothered by it will look it up and learn something new and others will just skim over it and not actually care that they don't know what it means.

  • 1 month ago

    As I said yesterday, try reading some good historical novels about Rome, such as Robert Harris's "Imperium" trilogy, and see how a professional author does this.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    I would use one of those maps sometimes used in fantasy novels, just to make it perfectly plain where everything is. That said, people will probably care more about your characters than the exact location.

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  • Tina
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    There is no problem. You have based the start of your book on Ancient Rome - this means that everyone speaks Latin. But you will not be writing in Latin, so just put everything in English.

    'The Praetorian Guard" - 'or "the Emperor's Bodyguard" The Praetorian Barracks' - 'the City Police' are close enough.

  • Marli
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    You might read the mystery novels by Steven Saylor and by Lindsay Davis that are set in the ancient Roman empire to study how they showed and explained the surroundings to the reader. Other books are "I Claudius" and "Claudius the God" by Robert Graves; the series of novels by Colleen McCullough about Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar and the end of the Republic (Though all those endnotes, like those in the Outlander books, make the reading ponderous information dumps, the stories are insightful for characters. I would not recommend them for your question otherwise ); John Maddox Roberts' SPQR mysteries starring Decius Mettellus, Margaret George's novels about Nero.

  • Cogito
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    What's wrong with just saying 'barracks' and 'urban/city cohorts'?

    Unless you propose to write the entire thing in Latin, just use English words.

  • 1 month ago

    How about the old “show don’t tell” guideline.

    I understand how you as a writer need an understanding of these historic details, but for a fiction book why do the readers need to know the details?   

    Focus on what the character’s do and say to show their motivation rather they trying to explain the inner working of an ancient nation to them.  Human motivation is pretty similar from Ancient Rome to today.  Readers may not understand the explicit details but they can get the idea of political fractions in a struggle for power and paramilitary organization or legionaries if you show in your story what the groups do, how they relate to each other and the public. 

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