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I'm writing historical fiction which is set in ancient China. My MC is a historical figure who really did go into battle as a woman.

Women in the ancient world were abused and mistreated. Males slaves were often valued more highly than women. Even though my MC managed to rise above this, we know from history that she never truly developed a sense of self-respect. After she returned from battle, the first thing she did was to take the initiative to bring a mistress home for her husband. She even brags to her parents about how good of a wife she's being by going the extra mile to satisfy her husband's sexual appetite. Once she returns from battle and resumes her role as a wife, she submissively concludes that her only role for the rest of her life is childbearing. Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect.

If I continue the story as an unbiased narrator, the reader is likely to be shocked. I don't want to condonecondemn these atrocities and help the modern reader understand how far society has progressed. Yet, I don't want to have to step in as the narrator and have to speak to the reader and help them understand this culture. I wish I could have the characters do this for me... but this was so commonplace that it was rarely discussed. Thus, any dialogue I could insert feels forced.

This event is well known enough that people the most familiar with China's history are sure to notice its absence. Deleting this event requires me to significantly alter later historical events or end the story before all issues have been resolved.

There are many stories (usually dystopian) where the MC is forced into a terrible world and the reader comes away inspired. I wish I could do that with this story. However, I'm really struggling with how to turn this one around without breaking the rules of historical fiction.

I'm writing historical fiction which is set in ancient China. My MC is a historical figure who really did go into battle as a woman.

Women in the ancient world were abused and mistreated. Males slaves were often valued more highly than women. Even though my MC managed to rise above this, we know from history that she never truly developed a sense of self-respect. After she returned from battle, the first thing she did was to take the initiative to bring a mistress home for her husband. She even brags to her parents about how good of a wife she's being by going the extra mile to satisfy her husband's sexual appetite. Once she returns from battle and resumes her role as a wife, she submissively concludes that her only role for the rest of her life is childbearing. Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect.

If I continue the story as an unbiased narrator, the reader is likely to be shocked. I don't want to condone these atrocities. Yet, I don't want to have to step in as the narrator and have to speak to the reader and help them understand this culture. I wish I could have the characters do this for me... but this was so commonplace that it was rarely discussed. Thus, any dialogue I could insert feels forced.

This event is well known enough that people the most familiar with China's history are sure to notice its absence. Deleting this event requires me to significantly alter later historical events or end the story before all issues have been resolved.

There are many stories (usually dystopian) where the MC is forced into a terrible world and the reader comes away inspired. I wish I could do that with this story. However, I'm really struggling with how to turn this one around without breaking the rules of historical fiction.

I'm writing historical fiction which is set in ancient China. My MC is a historical figure who really did go into battle as a woman.

Women in the ancient world were abused and mistreated. Males slaves were often valued more highly than women. Even though my MC managed to rise above this, we know from history that she never truly developed a sense of self-respect. After she returned from battle, the first thing she did was to take the initiative to bring a mistress home for her husband. She even brags to her parents about how good of a wife she's being by going the extra mile to satisfy her husband's sexual appetite. Once she returns from battle and resumes her role as a wife, she submissively concludes that her only role for the rest of her life is childbearing. Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect.

If I continue the story as an unbiased narrator, the reader is likely to be shocked. I want to condemn these atrocities and help the modern reader understand how far society has progressed. Yet, I don't want to have to step in as the narrator and have to speak to the reader and help them understand this culture. I wish I could have the characters do this for me... but this was so commonplace that it was rarely discussed. Thus, any dialogue I could insert feels forced.

This event is well known enough that people the most familiar with China's history are sure to notice its absence. Deleting this event requires me to significantly alter later historical events or end the story before all issues have been resolved.

There are many stories (usually dystopian) where the MC is forced into a terrible world and the reader comes away inspired. I wish I could do that with this story. However, I'm really struggling with how to turn this one around without breaking the rules of historical fiction.

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How to help the reader wrestle through historical atrocities which would be considered normal to the POV character

I'm writing historical fiction which is set in ancient China. My MC is a historical figure who really did go into battle as a woman.

Women in the ancient world were abused and mistreated. Males slaves were often valued more highly than women. Even though my MC managed to rise above this, we know from history that she never truly developed a sense of self-respect. After she returned from battle, the first thing she did was to take the initiative to bring a mistress home for her husband. She even brags to her parents about how good of a wife she's being by going the extra mile to satisfy her husband's sexual appetite. Once she returns from battle and resumes her role as a wife, she submissively concludes that her only role for the rest of her life is childbearing. Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect.

If I continue the story as an unbiased narrator, the reader is likely to be shocked. I don't want to condone these atrocities. Yet, I don't want to have to step in as the narrator and have to speak to the reader and help them understand this culture. I wish I could have the characters do this for me... but this was so commonplace that it was rarely discussed. Thus, any dialogue I could insert feels forced.

This event is well known enough that people the most familiar with China's history are sure to notice its absence. Deleting this event requires me to significantly alter later historical events or end the story before all issues have been resolved.

There are many stories (usually dystopian) where the MC is forced into a terrible world and the reader comes away inspired. I wish I could do that with this story. However, I'm really struggling with how to turn this one around without breaking the rules of historical fiction.