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I am a young author currently writing my fantasy series. It takes place in the present, but my antagonist is a thousand years old. She was born in 1050 AD. I did some research and found that time period was very early Dark Ages time, right after the fall of the Roman Empire.

My antagonist was the wife of a lord, who tragically died saving civilians from a mudslide. As typical antagonist backstories go, she became angry and accused everyone who was present of murdering her husband and hanged them, seeing that she was the now the one in charge.

Now the problem I have here is this:

My antagonist always wears a long, puffy, jet black sleeveless. I don’t have to be a historian to know that is NOT the style of the time period. I don’t want to change it because it really adds to my character, always letting the reader know she is still in mourning for her dead husband. I am wondering if this will affect the quality of my series because it is not completely historically accurate, or if I need to change it overall.

And yes, I believe this is a writing question about the quality of my work. I know it has some world building stuff in there, but the actual question is about writing.

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  • I feel like this is a question that is up to you to decide. In my opinion, I think that you should be fine. It does add to your character, and despite that it wasn't the style of the time period, it does not mean that she can't wear that. It makes her unique, and I really like that. So I think that you should keep that detail. Nov 18 '20 at 16:50
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    I'm not sure about the answer to the main question, but I do feel compelled to point out that 1050 AD is actually several centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. I'm not sure where you heard that it fell in 1050 AD.
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 18 '20 at 18:02
  • It all depends on how much you are going to be historically inaccurate. If you are going to dive into your character's backstory, the question of style may be a small one.
    – Alexander
    Nov 19 '20 at 1:03
  • It might help if I understood the nature of her immortality. Was she frozen or time traveled to present ala Captain America... where from her perspective the world changed in a blink of an eye? Or did she live through every moment between 1050 and present day?
    – hszmv
    Nov 19 '20 at 15:50
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There's no rule to say that an immortal antagonist couldn't keep up with the times. If you think it might otherwise be distracting, you might "lampshade" it by having a character or a narrator mention it in passing.

Antagonia was resplendent in a brand-new, jet black dress. "She's looking great for being nearly a thousand years old!" I heard someone say.

In the bigger picture, whether or not this is a problem has a lot to do with what kind of book you're writing. Many books, particularly fantasy, and particularly for young readers, are less grounded in any accurate historical reality. There's a book that I loved as a kid that featured a medieval time traveler who came forward to our times. I couldn't tell you until this day whether or not he was portrayed accurately. It didn't matter much to the appeal of the book.

On the other hand, if you're writing a book that seems to promise historical accuracy, then you're going to want to get the details right, or provide explanations when they aren't. Part of the appeal of books like the autobiographical fiction series "Little House on the Prairie" is that they give a real window into a specific moment in history. Even in the case of fantasy, there are books that are appealing precisely because of authenticity of their details.

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