Well, following on from various musings on historical fiction a few weeks ago, the plight of the historical fiction protagonist has been rattling around in the old brain.
You see, sometimes, when life is going just a little bit awry, we like to take refuge in the past, because the past is full of certainty. But what if our present woes feel like history is repeating itself? What if current events seem just too predictable to be true? Could it be possible that you are not in fact real, but rather a character in a historical fiction novel?
Take the test, and find out.
12 Ways To Determine If You’re A Character In Historical Fiction
1. You have encyclopaedic knowledge of the major world events of your time. Seriously. You’re like the 6 o’clock news, only you have things completely in context. It’s almost like you’re understanding them a century later or something.
2. You delight in explaining the most mundane and rudimentary things: such as your toilet, your breakfast, and your underclothes. It’s most unseemly for your time period.
3. You go barefoot, a lot. It is because you are such a free spirit. Or one of the starving poor. Take your pick.
4. Both you, and indeed everyone you meet, is either good or bad. There are no in-betweens. It’s very useful, because layered, complex characters can really interfere with your plot.
5. You have between one and three outfits. Each warrants detailed description, right down to the type of fabric used and the spacing of the stitches (rich folks) or the number of holes (poor folks).
6. You are infuriated by a particularly rude person. This will become awkward later, when you are marrying them, or when they save you from penury and evil.
7. Either you are an orphan, or several people vital to your life story are orphans. There are orphans everywhere. It is very sad.
8. You have an uncanny and almost academic expertise in one occupation, be that cathedral-building, pickpocketing, war stratagems, cloth-milling, or the invention of the steam engine. It’s almost like you researched it, but of course that’s impossible, because you can barely read.
9. You live in either a world-renowned city or a very small village. You do not live in a medium-sized town. Nobody lives in medium-sized towns.
10. You rebel against the conventions of your age. These conventions and the restrictions they impose seem perfectly normal to everyone around you, indeed they are barely noticeable; but you rebel against them anyway.
11. You are obsessed with cutlery.
12. You are 78% more likely to die than major characters in other genres.
LIFE IS A TEST: SCORE YOURSELF
0-2/12: You are real: however, you are very old-fashioned. Download an app, and update yourself.
3-7/12: You are the hero of a historical fiction novel written in the first half of the twentieth century, which makes you doubly historical. Congratulations.
8-11/12: You are the heroine of a historical fiction novel written in the last twenty years. Only time will tell whether this is a good or a bad thing.
12/12: You are in Downton Abbey. Sorry you’re out of work, old boy.