Saturday, August 4, 2012

What Constitutes Historical?

I am considering further revision of a book I wrote some years ago. Well, that's a lot of time to think of changes. One of the problems with the novel is that I had placed the story in a contemporary setting. Each time I revised the manuscript, technology, such as phones, fax machines, cell phones, cars, and all their possibilities had changed, and I had to bring the manuscript up to date, leading to other changes, ambiguities and incongruities, etc., etc. I think in my next revision I will place the story in 1980, and by doing so, eliminate some of these stumbling blocks. Now, in your opinion, will this make it a historical novel?


  1. Melinda,
    I found a link that may be helpful. It states 50 years in order to be historical.

    I guess you just set a story in the year you want and go with it. A reader should be given some clues of the year or a statement that makes it obvious.

    I do understand your frustration with the contstant change in technology. That must make revision a bear.

    Good luck.

  2. I agree with Linda A. The 1980s are too close to be considered historical.

    And I totally get what you are saying about technology. Frankly, technology changes so fast, you might have to revise from one draft to the next , even if both drafts are written in one year!

    That said, I wouldn't let those changes keep you from using a current setting. If there is no reason to put your story in the 1980s, then move it to today. Keep the technology as simple as possible. Or maybe invent some names of your own to keep things from getting outdated?

  3. Melinda,

    I found an interview with an editor that I wanted you to know about. Check here for her comments about setting a story in the 1980 or 1990s.

    I hope this is helpful.

  4. Judy's suggestion of inventing your own names for technology items is interesting and could work. The context of the story would make the new names understandable.