Friday, May 11, 2012

The Gossip Methods of a Historical Fiction Writer

As soon as I decided to write historical fiction, the way I gossip changed. 


Whenever I hear a piece of gossip, I always ask the person where they got the information. I then analyze the reliability of that source and the likelihood of the information being altered.

I've offended quite a few people when they tell me stuff and I ask, "How do you know? Did you see it? Who told you? Where did he hear if from?" 

I also take into account the characteristics of the gossiper; the accuracy of her memory, her tendency to exaggerate, any malice she might hold toward the gossipee, and what benefit lying or twisting the truth might serve.

I put more value on information that I hear from two or more sources. When I hear the same story from two people, I can look at the differences and similarities of the opposing viewpoints.

I also like hearing the story from the same person twice to see if the story has evolved over time (it almost always does).

Once that's done, I consider possible motivations of the gossipee. No one can know another person's intentions unless they hear it from the horse's mouth, so when people tell me the reason behind actions, it's always conjecture and rarely factual.

The motivations I consider range from the most simple to the most complex, from the most innocent to the most sinister. I then narrow down the options using the knowledge I have of that individual and isolate the few most likely scenarios.

Once I feel satisfied with the version of the truth I feel is the most accurate, I remind myself that since I rarely have enough evidence for a definitive conclusion, I could be completely off base.
I rarely spread stories about other people, but when I do, I always cite my sources and give my opinion on the validity of the source.

Et voila! That's how I gossip, and that's how I write historical fiction.

Don't forget about the Inspiration Collage Blogfest. It's going to be a blast!

6 comments:

  1. It's funny you mention this. Even when I get the story from different people, I consider the source. A lot of times, the source is someone or something that has misinterpreted or purposely omitted things to make the story what they want.

    Gossip. Sometimes, many times, a lot of times overrated.

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  2. It almost seems like what you're doing is research rather than gossiping. Gossip at it's core is NOT true. Otherwise you're just sharing facts.

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  3. I've always been cynical of gossip - I believe nothing without 3 corroborating snippets. Perhaps I'm a closet historian!

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  4. And that is what makes a historian

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    ReplyDelete

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