I learned a very hard lesson while writing a historical novel. I learned how hard it can be, and it’s hard for both the research you do and for the research you have to ignore.
I’m writing a novel that takes place in two historical periods – the Civil War and its immediate aftermath, and 50 years later, during the run-up to World War I. The story was loosely based on a story handed down in the family about what had happened to my great-grandfather. The emphasis is on the word “loosely,” because the more I researched, the more I discovered that what was passed down as a family story had very little basis in fact.
Because I discovered this about 40,000 words into the manuscript, it stopped me cold. For weeks. I kept hoping I was wrong, but I learned my extended family had two oral traditions about my great-grandfather. And the version passed down to me was the wrong one, or perhaps I should say “more embellished.” It made a great story, but it was flat-out wrong.
To continue reading, please see my post today at the American Christian Fiction Writers blog.
Photograph: Some of the 1,700 Union cavalry troops who rode through Mississippi in 1863 during Grierson’s Raid.