Book Hippo

Monday, February 11, 2013

History Speaking

So I'm reading The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt. Great book. So much I didn't know but it makes me think about how one goes about writing historical fiction. Because the fiction writer can't say, 'I don't know' to their readers like an historian can.

When there is no evidence in the archaeological record, the historian leaves a blank. The fiction writer must fill it in. Here's an example. No one knows why Menes decided to unify the land and make it Egypt.

As a fiction writer, I would write that other peoples had their eye on the fertile Nile delta and all the rich farmland made by the inundations. So Menes had to protect it for the people who already lived there. He did this by unifying them under his rule so he could co-ordinate the protection of the resource.

Now I have no way of knowing if that is true or anywhere near true but no one else does either and if you can  make a good story with it, why not? You'd have to square it with facts that are known, like, Menes didn't really care about the 'average' guy. He wanted power for himself.

So maybe he's one of these self-centered guys who has charisma and people flock to his standard, maybe he lies to them, but that's part of the story, too.

The great thing about historical fiction is that people never really change. There'll always be greed and kindness and war and peace. So it's not impossible to construct a believable story from history, even history as ancient as Egypt.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting post. I've always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt and had planned on traveling there two years ago when the State Department cancelled our trip. I do hope I get another chance to go.