Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Princess & I: An Author's Mistake

One of the reasons I started this blog was to make it easier for my friends to read and correct mistakes in my stories. Until now, it hasn't really happened. But just recently a pen-pal/MK (missionary kid)/friend of the family wrote me about something she noticed in my book "The Princess & I" that confused her.

The Problem:
"The Princess & I" seems to be a historical fiction style story set in medieval England. Malcolm and Megan (the narrator of the story) are both living in a cottage on the outskirts of a village surrounding the king's castle. They appear to be living in comfortable poverty. This was never how people in that time period lived in real life. Also, ladies-in-waiting were usually ladies of higher ranking (married or born into wealthy aristocracy). NOT a sister to a poor farmer as Megan seems to be. Lastly, it is highly unlikely that Malcolm would be an advisor to King Frederick because of his lack of worldly riches.
My friend suggested that perhaps I could give the story more of a fanciful twist if I was planning on not being historically accurate.
After reading her concerns, and promising to explain in a blog post for everyone to read since it was a more complicated issue, hear I am! :)

The Explanation:
As the author, I have all of Malcolm and Megan's background in my head... Unfortunately, I didn't write down enough of it to explain everything to my audience and therefore also make the book more historically correct. I'm sure you other authors have dealt with some of the same things. ;)
Thankfully, my friend was able to catch what I didn't explain, and by telling me about it, I was able to fix it.

The Solution:
When Megan has a flash-back in the first chapter, her mind "strayed to how my brother and I had ended up here: alone together in a cottage on the outskirts of a village surrounding the castle of our king". I re-read this section, in case my friend had somehow not gotten the needed information that could clear matters up...but as it turns out, her concerns were legitimate. I hadn't given my audience NEARLY enough background. So after some thought, and a lot of typing, I tried to fill my readers in on any information that they may have lacked in the first place.


Here it is BEFORE I changed anything:

While I prepared our simple meal, my thoughts strayed to how my brother and I had ended up here: alone together in a cottage near the castle of our king.
Our parents had come down with a terrible disease a few years ago when my brother had just gotten a promotion in his job as a knight. (He is now a close friend and advisor of the king’s, and he often helps the king make decisions.) They died shortly after and my brother suddenly became so much older. No longer was he my playmate, whose sole purpose was to entertain me; he was now a serious provider for us.

Only a few times during the last year or so had I been able to see the playful part of his character shine. This morning had been one of those times, and I relished it now as I finished mixing the biscuit dough. I had time enough anyways it turned out, because Malcolm took an exceptionally long time with the animals and came in just as I put the steaming biscuits onto the table. He removed his hat and jacket, pulling up a chair to sit in.
 


And here it is AFTER I fixed the trouble spot:

While I prepared our simple meal, my thoughts strayed to how my brother and I had ended up here: alone together in a cottage on the outskirts of a village surrounding the castle of our king.

My father had been a noble, and my mother his fine lady. Both came from important families and wealthy backgrounds. However, my father, unlike his ancestors, enjoyed living life simply. Instead of having his serfs build him a magnificent castle for himself and his young bride, my parents decided to have a simple cottage on his vast estate and work together on making it their home. Most of the other nobles had looked down on him for making this decision, but my father ignored their turned up noses and lived his life happily.

Our king, at that time only the prince, became fast friends with my father and the two young men became each other’s closest confidents. Both the king and Father married within the same summer. After the king’s father died, and the former prince and friend of my father became the king in his place, the two friends had less time to spend together. Life kept them busy when both families grew with the birth of my older brother Malcolm and a few years later the birth of the princess. The men were unable to continue the close friendship they had shared in their youth, but neither forgot the other. In fact, the king gave my brother knighthood in honor of his friendship with my father.

Then, one terrible day, both mother and father came down with a terrible disease after visiting some of their family in a different part of the country. I was getting schooled at that time, away from home for some months, and as we found out later from the doctor, this was what kept me from getting the same disease. My brother had just gotten a promotion in his job as a knight for a brave deed in the midst of a battle and was continuing his training as a soldier in the king’s army. (He is now a close friend and advisor of the king’s, and he often helps the king make decisions.) So he too, was away from home during the time of the sickness. Once we heard how sick our mother and father were, we both took the fastest way home to see if there was anything we could do to help. But alas, it was too late. We were only able to ease their parting by our presence. They died shortly after, holding each other’s hands with a look of everlasting peace on their faces that gave us the assurance that they knew they were going to be with their Lord in heaven.

Suddenly my brother became so much older. No longer was he my playmate, whose sole purpose was to entertain me; he was now a serious provider for us.

 
 
 
Does that make any more sense historically? Does the new background seem to explain better the relationship between Malcolm, Megan, and the king? Any other problems that I need to fix? Do you have any other suggestions?

I REALLY appreciate any help I can get from you all! :D

7 comments:

  1. Yeah, I think that helped. ;) It was nice to read more of their back story.
    I do have a question/suggestion. . .have you considered just writing this as a non-magical fantasy story with a medieval-like world? It seems like it would fit better, since nothing in the story ever happened in history, right? Also, then you'd be able to world-build and make the world and customs pretty much however you wanted. Just a thought! I love the story either way. ;)
    Oh, and do you want us to actually point things out as we are reading the story?
    Just asking, because I know that when I write, I write whatever I want and then when it's finished I go back and change all the historical inaccuracies. Hopefully that made sense! I know sometimes I don't make a lot of sense when I'm trying to ask a question. . . ;)

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    1. Oh it made a lot of sense! In other words, I think I know what you're asking... ;)
      I have thought about that...and that is sort of what I'm doing. I even made up a genre for it: Historical Fantasy.
      However, when I talked to my sister about it ( I told her I was trying to mostly stick to how it might have happened, I just didn't want to use any actual historical characters...) and she said she thought it was still called historical fiction even though there may not be an actual historical figure in it.
      So yeah...I'll research a little to find out exactly WHAT my book is. ;P
      Thanks for your thoughts! Speaking of which, yes, I do want you or anyone who notices something wrong to let me know via e-mail or letter depending on just who is trying to contact me. B-)

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    2. Good. Glad it made sense. ;)
      Oh, yeah! I think that is totally find for historical fiction!
      I just meant that if you wanted to change it to fantasy, you could do it pretty easily,and then that way you wouldn't have to worry about it being historically correct. :)

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  2. I hadn't really gave this much thought, but, yes, this definitely explained it better. :)
    ~Faith

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  3. Much better. Thank-you,
    R. Franklin

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    1. You're very welcome! Thanks for noticing! :)

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