Writing history as fiction

A few weeks ago I wrote about the family reunion we recently attended.

I made the following observation:

With the launch of the family history book, the bare bones of the history and heritage of my family has been well documented. I enjoy reading historical accounts but this book could only tell part of the story. During our celebrations last weekend I couldn’t help but think that the story of my family’s epic struggle for survival would make a wonderful novel or series of novels – even a film.

Turning history facts into fiction has some advantages and some pitfalls as well.

One of the advantages is that you basically have the plot line already. In many cases historical accounts are full of drama and lend themselves to retelling in fascinating ways that only a novel can achieve. It may well bring the story to life with real characters, real events and a totally believable story line.

One of the dangers, however, is that the facts may need to become blurred at the edges in order for the story to remain interesting. This may upset the historical purists, especially where family is concerned. It may be expedient to tamper with the truth for the story to remain consistent, or for the plot to be believable.

Novels and films that are “based on a true story” often raise more questions than they answer, but that sounds like the start of another article.

Good writing.


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