Artistic Licence. All You Need Is Confidence (or Determination)

Any subject, any genre, any style, no matter how assiduous your research and effort, you run the risk of annoying a pedant (put that mirror away lad and concentrate on the post!) or someone who has delusions on the breadth of their knowledge on a subject, genre, style etc, etc, etc. As these folk will be so pleased they have the chance to go on at great length to you or even better the world about the mistake you made.

Now yes, a writer must make an effort. Having a motorcar in a novel set in the mid 19th century does indicate ‘not trying very hard’. (Steampunk of course gets a free pass these days)  Henry VIII biding one of his wives farewell before riding off to the Battle of Bosworth Field 1485 (he was born in 1491) is just stupid. Whereas you can work an ahistorical scene where Charles I and Oliver Cromwell have a discussion; having Cromwell say:

‘Get real Charles! The people need a democracy! Like now, man’

People will find it lacking something……unless of course you are doing satire or very off the wall humour in alternative Universes.

This does not mean you have to be hemmed into a place which leaves your imagination and general creativity stifled into something narrow and dry. To assist here I give the example of a new high profile film:


The King (2019 Film)

Now this revolves around A Henry V of England ( famous for Shakespeare, Agincourt etc), I write ‘A’ for the reason that both historical and “Shakespearial” as devotees of both might well go spinning off into the higher regions of the atmosphere when they hear about this.

The film has Henry as being a fellow who liked a bit of fun (as did Shakespeare’s Henry) and kills rebellious Hotspur (just like Shakespeare’s). Historically Henry (Then Prince of Wales) followed his dad (Henry IV) around putting down rebellions etc with sword, not frank and open discussion. Hotspur did die at the Battle of Shrewsbury and the winning side got to write the account, so keep an open mind on who killed him.

In The Film the larger than life Shakespearean character Falstaff figures as something of a mentor to Henry and sage advisor when Henry gets to invade France and gets to fight at Agincourt. In Shakespeare Henry IV Part 2 he gets ditched by Henry (now the V) as now a low life beneath him, Henry now being grave and austere. (In the hands of good actors the scene is at one sad and chilling). In the play Henry V he only gets an aside on account of being dead off stage (in reduced circumstances). History records one Sir John Fastolf, who was nothing like Falstaff and got the blame for losing the Battle of Patay against the French, who had Joan of Arc of their side, so you can’t blame the guy really.

In the Film Henry does not want to fight the French in France, he would rather stay at home, doing ‘stuff’, but due to all sorts of pollical skulduggery is manoeuvred into others’ cunning schemes whereby he is obliged to invade France. Here he reluctantly beats the French. In Shakespeare’s Henry V he invades France because it makes for a good plot and lots of rousing speeches. Historically Henry invaded France because he wanted to get back the lands that belonged to the Plantagenets who had been sort of French and he reckoned he should thus be King of France. His invasion and treatment of the civilian population would now qualify as war crimes, but ‘Business as Usual’ in those days.

Now, as you can imagine  Historians and Shakespeareans will be hopping up and down and for once sharing cause at the outrageous misuse of material.  Let us not bother with these possibilities.

Let us look to The Film:

Firstly you will notice it is called THE KING. It’s about A ‘king’

Thus we have a plot when a prince in A land called England becomes A king; the 5th one to be called Henry and gets drawn into fighting a war with A Royalty of A land called France and later on realises he has been suckered into the war.

That’s it. All you really need to know.

I have not seen the film, I may never see the film….actually curiosity makes me most likely to get a DVD to see how it goes. The point is there was a great deal of artistic licence used with both facts and previous dramas to get where the film arrived. And in these terms this is all that matters. Henry does not stab his father to death to gain the throne, (Yes, I know Mr Martin, I’m should you would have made sure he did). He does not ride into France on a fire breathing dragon (cool idea though?). Nor does he meet, fall in love with Joan of Arc, then tragically is obliged to betray then slay her in battle at Agincourt (I bet Marlow would have loved that one). Thus although historical credibility is stretched it is not unto ridiculous lengths. Artistic licence is used and hopefully the average viewer who has no axe to grind with history or classic drama will like the film.

I would thus urge you all the bear in mind this film when you are fretting over whether you should be doing what you are doing with a plot where history or ‘classics’ or ‘facts’ come into play. You are the captain of your own ship and can steer into any harbour you choose. It’s not only people with ‘big’ names who can play fast and loose.

In conclusion when was the last time you saw a film which stuck remarkably tight to the historical facts or the original book/play?

Artistic Licence and also interpretation.


Losing The Plot

Opening Rider:

Whatever inane and puerile image WP is feeding you at the head of this post, it should be……..


Placeholder Image

Anyway to the business at hand.

Losing the plot

No, I do not actually mean the reaction you get when you have another rejection letter Victorian image

Or if you’ve been having one too many relaxing quaffs of your favourite beverage Mockery

Or maybe just confused by the entire day  (as we do)


OR an observation on WP’s various bits of nonsense and failure to take care of our blogs

Screenshot (12)

(It’s the end of the World as we know it…..)

No, I am referring to those occasions when in the midst of a writing project you notice that you have become so immersed in the characters, their surroundings, or something to do with the interactions of the aforementioned that the plot had sort of drifted away…


So you start out with a plot yes? And naturally you need to have characters (even if it is only a chair in an dusty long forgotten room- well you could). Your characters would have a narrative and a setting. And away you went….Whimsey 1 otherway






and the next thing you know is you all you want to do is create conversations or descriptions because your characters are so darn interesting, and anyway you do so like the landscapes or environments you have created and people should know about them because they are….. well….. y’know, you think they should, it enhances the plot…..

Placeholder Image

Oh ………….. YesWhimsey 6


The Plot


Somewhere along the way the reason why everyone was there has sort of got shoved into a corner. There was something important going on, you were sure of it…. well it was important when the narrative started out, bbbbbbut!

Plot Image 1

……. it’s not half as interesting as the simmering possible romance between those two characters who started out as supports or minor protagonists to the central character(s).  They had been separately hired to make a team to hunt that central character;  one being the detective sort and the other being the assassin sort, It’s a great deal of fun to write them bantering over clues as to where the central character might be and each being critical about the other’s profession,…and….like….WOW!  It does seem to work rather well as a sort of rom-com done by the Coen Brothers. And gosh…….

Dangerous couple

They are rather cute together.


Oh yeah….that central character…..

Melodramatic man







Now where did I leave them with the secret thingamajig with, the….what was the important stuff? Oh yeahhhh, and what did the important stuff have to do with anything?

Young woman, finger on lips, looking confused surprised

…..maybe it just does not seem as interesting as it was when you started off??

OK, not to worry. Time has not been wasted. You are not a bad writer (I will deduct credits from anyone who says they are). You are not to throw the whole thing away. You have all those words, instances, scenes, dialogue, and so forth. The whole business just needs another look to

Getting an acceptance

Let us, for the sake of argument take the above example and give the situation you are in some thought.

Maybe is it possible the original Plot is just not for you. Sure it is not a bad idea, we know it is has been done before, but there can always be lots of variations. Now there is the clue for you. The variation.

Since you have been naturally drawing to the pair of hunters, these could have been the princiapl characters which were lurking about in the back of your mind as you thought of the original outline. However as we are all prone to outside influences (oh yes we are), you may have been unconsciously drawn to the standard set up. So all you need to do is take a very deep breath, do not destroy what you have created, keep that in a separate folder (clerical or computer) and start again but bear in mind those two hunters will become the central folk. At this juncture I am making a sweeping assumption in that your work is ending up on some sort of computer record, in which case I would give you one of my adages:

In Ctrl+C followed by Ctrl +V I trust….. It is actually the only durn bit of Word I do trust. I shift whole chapters about like that, while keeping in an eye on continuity and time flow though I also cheat, since I write fantasy where Time is not wholly linear as we perceive            Laughing Guy(isn’t he just such a smooth operator?)

So back you go, to re-working this and gently pushing the previous main character and the reason for why they are being pursued a little into the background and concentrate on that couple, because you are working so well with that. Yes, we know that anyone who says they enjoy all of thier writing is going to get looked at sideways by other writers, but you should have some fun in the aforementioned process….otherwise it will not work.

(Aside:Faustus If anyone does want to use the above outline for a project….go ahead…have fun)

The other possibility open to you is to set your shoulders to the wheel and steer the plot back on course:

Sailing Ship

With a few ‘hard a port’  ‘hard a starboard’ tweaks with the realisation that when it comes to your FIRST re-write you will have to do some early amending to make the process smoother.



It should always be borne it mind that the first draft is always ‘Not a Finished’ product (some folk use the technical term ‘crap’). I like to think of it as a room where you have been putting stuff to be reorganised:


Thus you should not worry too much about the plot being slightly askew. Once you have completed the draft you will have the benefit of an allegorical 20/20 hindsight and during your first re-write can steer your course with more certainity, clarity and conductivity [ The word flowed smoothly with the preceding two and on examination of the definition which although referring to matters electrical did have a certain resonance when viewed via the prism of writing – well I thought so].

In short plots like the rest of the writing process can be flexible items there to be adjusted or melded as you see fit as your work progresses.

Thus be of good cheer and strive on.

Thought for the day:

Big Raspberry To Word Press’s Computer Systems