Comment to 'Historical Fiction Early Chapter - Introducing Characters & Setting (Roman) '
  • I, likewise, didn't read the whole thing; only a couple of pages.

    There are aspects to it that work well, and some issues I think need tightening.

    On the positive side, your prose, generally, flows well. There are few errors of language that pulled me out of the story.

    However, there were other elements that made me feel it could have been better. The first, of course, was the date itself. Seeing it, my first response was to ask "January? Really? 49BCE?" So, off to Google, and then Wikipedia, we trundle to look up the Roman Calendar. I'll not bother repeating what I found there; I'll only say that to make a story immersive, an element such as the dating of the events should be rendered in-setting. Is it the 6th of Jan, or the 6th day of Winter? (There are tools that would allow you to figure out when the lunar cycles of the preceding year began, and thus align.) If you want it to actually be 6 Jan, per the Gregorian calendar, and convery this, then start with the in-setting date, then translate it in parentheses.

    The second question that came to mind was one of discipline. Yes, this army is returning home (but has been stuck in this one camp for a while, which doesn't make sense), but the Roman army was renownded for its discipline. Would the men really be so lax? Would Quintus abandon the task he had been set and go talk randomly with fellow soldiers without reporting back? This detail bugged me, demanding an explanation, which wasn't forthcoming…

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    • Thanks for reading, much appreciated!

      I hadn't thought about referring to dates in the Roman style, as all the secondary sources & primary translations uses the modern style - so that's certainly something I'll bear in mind. Actually referring to things as e.g. "x days after the kalends/nones/ides" etc would be a nice touch, I'm keen on using that instead..! I put dates in as this is a two-strand story with action taking place in different parts of Italy, and I think it helps the reader to have an idea of the time frame involved? But maybe it's not necessary at all?

      There is of course some mess around this time period as the pre-Julian calendar system relied upon inserting extra months now and then, and that hadn't happened recently so everything was off-kilter. The "January" of this chapter is in fact around two months early - it's more like November, seasonally... but let's not go into that 😂 

      I'm afraid it's true, this Legion was stuck for a year with nothing to do but 'administration'. I'll double check the actual time-frames as it's possible there was some travelling during that time. I could probably make reference to the fact that these particular men are off-duty, and as Donna has commented, there does need to be more jeopardy about the fact Quintus hasn't succeeded in his task.

      Thanks for the feedback, great to have more stuff to think about 👍



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      • Ah… One thing that didn't come across - at least to me - is the administrative duties bit. I understood that they were looking forward to it, rather than that's what they'd been doing for the past year.

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