Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Question

A question for all you readers and writers out there.  When you're writing or reading historical stories exactly how accurate do you need things to be?  I was writing along this morning and used Lady Baltimore Cake in a bit of dialogue.  On checking, the cake seems to have first been mentioned in a book by Owen Wister and was of his own creation, the year was 1906 and my story takes place in 1900.  Is this something that would throw most readers out of the story or send them looking up references to prove me wrong?  I know I can find other cakes that would work but I like the way this one sounds in the conversation.

10 comments:

David Cranmer said...

If the reference intrigued me enough I would look it up and note the years being off. But it wouldn't pull me out of the story one bit. I had a reader who liked our MANHUNTER'S MOUNTAIN tell me that plywood (that was mentioned in passing) hadn't been invented yet. He concluded by saying I might want to change that. Ha. To each his own.

Charles Gramlich said...

I tend to be Ok with small errors, and with errors that involve a shifting of a date by a few years, maybe 10. Bigger mistakes throw me out.

sandra seamans said...

Thanks, guys! That's reassuring. I knew the Lady B cake was an old recipe but I didn't know it had been invented by an author for a book. Very cool trivia :)

Robert Lopresti said...

That wouldnt bother me. Some things do. I read a novel that started just after MLK was assassinated and on the firs tpage it mentions the riots taking place in LA. rather famously there WERE NO riots in LA after the assassination and that spoiled the book for me.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, I think getting big events like that wrong is a big spoiler, Rob, especially when it's so easy to look up dates of historical events on the internet.

Linda Adams said...

I think you have to think of what works best for your story first. Sometimes that means not getting the facts exactly right. By accuracy standards, most characters in historical romances are probably too old -- but it's what appeals to today's audience.

Fred Zackel said...

I have Winston Churchill quoting himself from a book he won't write for ten years ... and I got it okay by saying he was writing his book in his head first to get the cadence right for when he got around to writing the book.

sandra seamans said...

Yep, too old and too many dresses. Most women back then had a dress for weekdays and one for Sunday, but women today wouldn't buy that :)

Great way to work that in, Fred!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wouldn't know the exact date so it wouldn't bother me at all. And even if I did, if it captured the general era, it would be fine. Although a guy in my writing group asks me everytime I mention a thing that has a time attached to it, if I checked it out. So some people.....are OCD.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, there are people who think everything has to be exactly right, but when you're looking into the past it's from a historical perspective that might not be true but built on legends.

Women especially are painted as weak and having to be rescued by men, but when you consider how and where they lived, they needed to have many of the same skills as the men in order to survive.