When I first started my current WIP—a YA historical novel—I was hoping to use the facts exactly as they were and just fill in the holes with my fantastic story. *coughs* I wrote about 20K words using this plan.
Unfortunately, I hit a wrinkle.
When I started writing my detailed outline, I realized that my story would be soooo much better if I could change some of the facts.
And yet I waffled.
Some things I wanted to change probably wouldn’t be a big deal in regards to remaining true to history. I wanted to change the age and date of death of a rather obscure individual who most people don’t know. I think I’d be OK there. But I also wanted to push the dates that a hugely famous poet wrote a likewise hugely famous series of poems to four years earlier. Ouch.
Could I get around it? Probably. But it might be weird for other cryptic reasons. So I’m still waffling.
How close to history do you keep your historical fiction? Any rules or guidelines that you always follow? Any examples where you decided to break the rules?