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Character De-aging in Historical Fiction

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I'm working on a YA historical fiction, based on the real life events of a 18th century folk hero. The truly incredible parts of the folk hero's life happened when middle-aged. Can I make my MC (same name, country, events...) younger, so as to appeal to the YA audience?  :eh2
#1 - March 04, 2008, 04:41 PM


Hmm, my first thought is that you can either keep the "historical" and leave the person his true age, or focus on the fictional and make him younger, but change the name, etc. and instead of truly biographical, make your book "based on the story of..."  I think it would be misleading to use the real guy and to change his age.
#2 - March 04, 2008, 04:47 PM


I think I'll go with the focus of the fictional. It seems to open up the possibilities. Thank You!
#3 - March 04, 2008, 05:07 PM


I agree, taking a more fictional route based on this person's true story might be a good way to do it, so as not to have anyone questioning the historical accuracy of your story.
#4 - March 04, 2008, 05:24 PM


Yes, definitely veer toward the fictional, even if you continue to use a real source for your based-on. I've read quite a few novels about the Salem Witch Trials that fictionalize events for real people involved, and I think you get a more cohesive story that way. Real life is rarely well-structured and satisfying in its form, but you can't beat the truth for verisimilitude!
#5 - March 04, 2008, 08:19 PM


Another option is to give the folk hero a fictional young companion who could serve as the MC.  This was done in a recent (eh, '90s) novel about Robert the Bruce (whose title I can't recall at the moment, but I look at it every time I'm in Half Price Books), as well as Gloria Skurzinsky's SPIDER'S VOICE about Abelard and Heloise.

The thing about doing that, however, is that you must find a way to make the young companion the MC--so the central story problem must be the MC's, not the folk hero's, etc. 
#6 - March 05, 2008, 03:43 PM

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I second Elizabeth's suggestion...I know they're not YA, but think about books like Ben and Me and Mr. Revere and I, where the narrator/MC is NOT the historical personage--it's a device that can work wonderfully.
#7 - March 06, 2008, 06:14 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)


Thanks to everyone. I'm glad I have a place to ask for advice and get such quick responses!  :thanks
#8 - March 08, 2008, 08:32 PM


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