Author Topic: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books  (Read 93789 times)

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Offline Annie

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #90 on: February 29, 2008, 10:39:01 AM »
Difference between an opinion and an agenda- an agenda is a goal, a cause, possibly financial, a longterm series of things leading up to a final success or failure. I can't really say what I think the agenda is or it will get deleted, but it's very  different from a random opinion.


The difference between fiction and nonfiction is obviously that nonfiction is supposed to be complete truth without speculation presented as truth (everyone speculates and offers their own views, it's only when this is presented in a way as to make it appear as part of the truth that it becomes a problem)

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #91 on: February 29, 2008, 10:41:25 AM »
I'm sorry that you feel "cheated" Annie, but then again, you have your OWN website and Forum, so by all means take any discussion you want to over there in your own place.

I'm not going to get too far with "ChatNoir", am I?

Better YOU than me.  ;D

NOOOO!  :'(

LOL

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #92 on: February 29, 2008, 10:53:15 AM »
The difference between fiction and nonfiction is obviously that nonfiction is supposed to be complete truth without speculation presented as truth (everyone speculates and offers their own views, it's only when this is presented in a way as to make it appear as part of the truth that it becomes a problem)

To add to this, - in fiction the author has a lot more leeway to do this. For example, I loath what Phillippa Gregory does to history, however I also realize that her books are fiction and technically she has every right to make things up even if she does have an agenda - i.e. to sell more books. And fiction writers, even historical fiction, don't have as much responsibility to stick to facts as do non-fiction writers. It's whole different game with non-fiction authors. They shouldn't have the leeway to distort history according to their agenda, and should not present speculation as fact, and should not use selected sources in order to push forward any personal agenda, whether financial or otherwise...  Unfortunately this happens much too often....

Offline Sarushka

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #93 on: February 29, 2008, 10:54:34 AM »
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

Does it have more to do with how thorough an author's examination of a topic is, or how balanced?

For example, would you regard as more true: a complete examination of just one side of a case, or a balanced yet less in-depth discussion of both sides?

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Offline Annie

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #94 on: February 29, 2008, 10:58:30 AM »
It's whole different game with non-fiction authors. They shouldn't have the leeway to distort history according to their agenda, and should not present speculation as fact, and should not use selected sources in order to push forward any personal agenda, whether financial or otherwise...  Unfortunately this happens much too often....

Yes, it does. What I don't like to see is when it appears that an author may be advancing an agenda that may not even really be their opinion in the name of carrying on a cause, or not letting a 'cash cow' die out.

Offline Annie

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #95 on: February 29, 2008, 11:03:54 AM »
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

Does it have more to do with how thorough an author's examination of a topic is, or how balanced?

For example, would you regard as more true: a complete examination of just one side of a case, or a balanced yet less in-depth discussion of both sides?



I would say complete truth is the verfied facts to the best of your ability, not slanting them or using misleading phrasing to change the meaning of what a real source said, just so you can use it as a source in your footnotes. For example, in the AA wikipedia article, one of the contributors claimed that facial examinations on a 1994 BBC TV special proved 'with certainty' that AA was AN. Actually, the program was NOVA, and while the ear examinations did show a good match, no one said it made her AN. Also, the facial examinations, by Geoffrey Oxlee, concluded that AA and FS were one in the same. The writer used Kurth's "Tsar" book discussing the show as a source, and for awhile it stood, until another poster and I proved that the information was not only misleading but completely false.

I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 11:06:13 AM by Annie »

Offline Sarushka

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #96 on: February 29, 2008, 11:13:04 AM »
I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

I agree.

However, if only one side of an issue is presented, does that qualify as the complete truth?
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Offline Raegan

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #97 on: February 29, 2008, 11:16:15 AM »
The fact of the matter is, that until the deepest recess of GARF is opened and the events of the journey of the Imperial children on the 'Rus' is released and fully and professionally sourced - if indeed it exists - NOBODY knows what happened on that river journey.   
Please show some sensitivity.

All of the material in GARF that relates to Nicholas II and his family are open to researchers and have been for years now.

Offline Annie

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #98 on: February 29, 2008, 11:16:33 AM »
I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

I agree.

However, if only one side of an issue is presented, does that qualify as the complete truth?

It depends on the subject matter and what needs to be said. It can be the complete truth for one side, as long as this doesn't mean that it's assumed there is no other side. In the case of my website, I knew there were dozens of websites and articles online alleging AA to be AN, but few telling the other side. I wanted to present the story from the point of view that was was 100% NOT AN and this is why I feel this way. I tried to bring up things that people who knew the story may not have seen before, or may not have considered. I am assuming that most people who read it will have already seen the other side and take mine as a rebuttal. As for books, it would have to go by subject matter and other factors. I can't generalize it all.

Offline AGRBear

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #99 on: February 29, 2008, 11:17:45 AM »
That is just the problem, Annie. Once a book is published, there are rarely reprints.  Especially now, as it is very costly and publishers are only going to do extra editions if they are selling J.K. Rawlings or Dan Brown, Stephen King, etc. Sometimes, if a book goes to paperback, the opportunity  to correct is available, but even that is pretty rare with non-fiction. For most authors on Romanov related topics, it is a one-shot deal. I must have close to 1,000 books on the Romanovs and related topcs here, and each and every one has some sort of mistake. Wheter it be text, picture captions, or a missing or wrong entry on a genealogical chart.

I think Robert and I have had experience in publishing so why aren't you paying attention to those who have had these experiences.   Stuff happens.  It's done.  Unless the publisher finds the need to change it,  FATE OF THE ROMANOVS will be reprinted as it is.  Will King and Wilson do things differently with their future book deals?   I'm sure they have and will because, now, they have experience and contracts will be worded differently.  Will this prevent errors from occurring in future books.  No.  Authors and publishers are human and are not perfect.

Helen and Annie,
Life is what it is.
Let it go.
Life is too short to be so negative.
Find something positive to do today, tomorrow, next week.
Do something nice for someone, it'll brighten your life.  

AGRBear
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Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline Sarushka

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #100 on: February 29, 2008, 11:19:54 AM »
To add to this, - in fiction the author has a lot more leeway to do this. For example, I loath what Phillippa Gregory does to history, however I also realize that her books are fiction and technically she has every right to make things up even if she does have an agenda - i.e. to sell more books.

This is a sticky issue with me. I find it endlessly tacky and irritating when authors rearrange and contradict history to make the story "more interesting" (ie. make more money).

Of course, fiction is by definition a made-up story. But I bristle at the idea that fiction authors -- in particular authors of historical fiction -- should bear no responsibility for accuracy simply because their stories are made up. If I make up an inaccurate story about someone who's still living and publish it as fiction, there's going to be trouble. Words like slander and libel are going to get tossed around, even if my story is "just fiction." But if I write something fictional yet inaccurate about a dead person, there's no comparable repercussions. That rubs me the wrong way. Just because someone's dead, they're fair game? The dead are no longer entitled to accurate representation? IMO, fiction shouldn't be synonymous with b.s.
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Offline Sarushka

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #101 on: February 29, 2008, 11:23:39 AM »
For example, would you regard as more true: a complete examination of just one side of a case, or a balanced yet less in-depth discussion of both sides?

I'd also be interested to know which of the above anyone would choose as the more useful/valuable resource.
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Offline Puppylove

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #102 on: February 29, 2008, 11:27:47 AM »
Helen and Annie,
Life is what it is.
Let it go.
Life is too short to be so negative.
Find something positive to do today, tomorrow, next week.
Do something nice for someone, it'll brighten your life.  

AGRBear

Not addressed to me, I know, but please don't assume Helen and Annie are not brightening their lives or passing on random acts of kindness in between posts. You may very well find the subject matter trivial and that's cool, but for me WORDS ARE LIFE so I am glad to read along as Helen, Annie and Sarushka hash it out...and with civility no less!
"The censor's sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression." Earl Warren

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Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #103 on: February 29, 2008, 11:29:50 AM »
To add to this, - in fiction the author has a lot more leeway to do this. For example, I loath what Phillippa Gregory does to history, however I also realize that her books are fiction and technically she has every right to make things up even if she does have an agenda - i.e. to sell more books.

This is a sticky issue with me. I find it endlessly tacky and irritating when authors rearrange and contradict history to make the story "more interesting" (ie. make more money).

Of course, fiction is by definition a made-up story. But I bristle at the idea that fiction authors -- in particular authors of historical fiction -- should bear no responsibility for accuracy simply because their stories are made up. If I make up an inaccurate story about someone who's still living and publish it as fiction, there's going to be trouble. Words like slander and libel are going to get tossed around, even if my story is "just fiction." But if I write something fictional yet inaccurate about a dead person, there's no comparable repercussions. That rubs me the wrong way. Just because someone's dead, they're fair game? The dead are no longer entitled to accurate representation? IMO, fiction shouldn't be synonymous with b.s.

Oh, I agree with you. If it were up to me, all the historical fiction would be as accurate as possible. But at the same time I must allow that as long as it is called "fiction" and not "non-fiction" the author should have more leeway that the non-fiction author...

Offline Sarushka

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Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
« Reply #104 on: February 29, 2008, 11:32:11 AM »
But at the same time I must allow that as long as it is called "fiction" and not "non-fiction" the author should have more leeway that the non-fiction author...

Certainly. But how much is too much...?


Jenn: Bolshoi spaseeba.
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