Monday, February 16, 2009

Inspiration and Artistic License

This week here at the diner we’re going to be posting photos that relate to our writing. For my photo, I present to you the oubliette. It’s from the French word oublier, meaning “to forget.”

The oubliette is a dungeon with only a single opening at the top. Prisoners were lowered (or sometime tossed) down this hole and left to die. These unfortunate prisoners were, for all intents and purposes, forgotten. Since my heroine is a rock climbing instructor dragged back in time by a 13th century dragonslaying knight, I thought it would be a great scene to show off her skills and give her a chance to save the hero for once. Problem is, the earliest use of the word oubliette dates back to 1374 and my story takes place in 1213. So what’s a writer to do?

Well, sometimes we have to take advantage of a little thing called artistic license and bend things a little. I figure, just because the word wasn’t in use in the early 13th century doesn’t mean the "pit of the forgotten" was not. Note if you will that the oubliette looks very much like a deep well. They had stone-lined wells in 1213 (some date back to when the Romans occupied Britain). It reasons that a sadistic person (aka my villain) might use a well as an impromptu prison for my hero and heroine. Because of the time period I've set my book in, I can’t call it an oubliette by name, but I have no qualms about using the architectural principle for the scene. And a kick-butt scene it is too. *G*


  1. I do adore period stories, especially from medieval times. And I thoroughly appreciate your research - as a history & English major, I'm bummed when a piece of fiction disregards the realities of a particular time.

    Intrigued! :D

  2. Well, my argument with words is that they don't appear in writing for a couple hundred years after they've begun to be used in conversation. After all, at that time in particular, not many people knew how to read. But you made a great compromise to make the concept work in your story! Sounds cool, Lori!


  3. I have an oubliette in one of my stories too. Very cool.