Whenever I watch a historical movie, I ponder two things:
- How accurate is this film?
- If the historical character has been quoted, did the writer quote him verbatim?
The answer to the first question is usually ‘No.’ Sometimes, it’s ‘Kinda close’, but that’s
the exception, not the rule. It’s rare to come across one that is. This leads us to the second question. If I am making a movie about Abraham Lincoln (one that has nothing to do with vampires, though I am eagerly anticipating the film’s release), and I have a copy of the Gettysburg Address, do I copy it verbatim?
I consider these questions as I write Full of Grace. If I have a source that offers me the person/character’s responses, why do I feel the need to rewrite, or break-up, or omit their words? Am I just exercising my right as an author and taking creative license so the characters come off a certain way? If I am so concerned with accuracy and integrity, then doesn’t the neglect of the latter negate the former?
At one time I would have said yes, but as I work through the personality of a teenager (Mary) who’s been deified for the past two millennia, the answer isn’t so simple (nothing is when you’re dealing with teenagers, and trust me, I know – I have four of them at home). It’s not about quoting someone verbatim, or even being accurate – it’s about being true to the thesis you are presenting. I know that’s a science term, but the concept is the same. I am presenting an idea, a notion and backing it up with evidence to prove it. Does that mean I must quote my characters verbatim? I think as long as I am true to the person I am presenting, I can paraphrase to my heart’s content.
If you’re new to Full of Grace, you can click here to read from the beginning.