Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vittles

Vittles. Say it aloud. Vittles. My grandmother used to tell us to eat our vittles. It sounds like an old word, doesn't it? According to Merriam-Webster it means food and drink. Another online dictionary states it originated between 1805 and 1815.

I like the memories it brings forth of my little granny churning butter, wearing her bonnet as she poked around in her garden, setting her dining room table with her home-grown food and fried chicken (back then I wasn't a vegetarian!) but especially her wonderful egg-custard pie.

The word Vittles makes me want to write a historical. I've jotted down ideas but the research flat-out scares me. I've read all about writing a historical novel and taken a couple of courses on research. I guess I need to just sit and write the story, then go back and analyze each word to make sure of its origin. Some of my friends emphasize the importance of getting the facts just right. And that's true.

I heard a writer speak once and challenged by someone in the audience because she'd made a mistake in her research. Seems she had a flower growing in Louisiana that didn't grow in the state. My thought was ... who cares? But readers of historical fiction want everything factual. I've read reviews that berated authors for trite mistakes. These are the kinds of things that make me freeze (or block me) when I think about writing a historical.

Choosing a time period that intrigues me is what I'm supposed to do first. Unfortunately, it's not the time period that intrigues me, it's something that actually happened that intrigues me. I want to use a specific disaster/tragedy as the backdrop for my story. Is there a difference? I think so.

I'm not too keen on investing as much time researching the era/locale as it takes to write the story. And paying attention to the clothing, household items, furniture and architectural design is frightening. Not to mention finding at least three sources for my historical data.

I read a romance recently that took place during the 40s. I felt as if the author pounded me on the head on every page with the differences between then and now. I didn't enjoy it very much.

Isn't it crazy that I got all this out of the word Vittles? Funny how certain words conjure up thoughts and images. I really do want to write a historical. I used to love to read them. Do you have any tips for me? Suggestions? Get me started!

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Join me as I blog through the alphabet. We post every day in April except Sundays. There are many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge too, which is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. I'd like to encourage you to visit their entertaining, informative blogs. I'm amazed at the many talented people who participate in the A to Z Challenge.

2 comments:

melaniegobledvm said...

I enjoy the word vittles as well. I also very much enjoy historical fiction. I am not one to beat up an author for a minor infraction, but I do want to learn something about the time. One of my all time favorite historical fiction works is "The Proud Breed" by Celeste DeBlasis. I learned so much about the mid to late 1800s and it was great. Yes, there were details, but she didn't bog down the work with the difference. I can't give you specific recommendations, but I would love to read your historical fiction whenever you decide to write it! :)

Holli Moncrieff said...

It's funny--I'm going through the same thing right now. I've just started writing a series that is set in ancient Egypt. There is so much research to do, and I quickly realized I could research until the end of time and still not be an Egyptologist.

My advice--give yourself a set period of time to research (mine was one week that turned into two) and then start writing. You can always check details and keep researching as you go. Some people will always be picky, but you can't please everyone, and who wants to read a textbook? Getting an expert to factcheck after you're done is also a good idea.

Good luck! Write what you want, I say. Someone will have an issue with it no matter what, but that someone is not your people.