Is History Bunk?

Anne here, pondering the much bandied-about question of historical accuracy in novels. How historically accurate should an author be? Or can an author be? Which areas are the most important to get right? Language? Dress? Events? Likelihood? Tone? For me it's always a balancing act. (And I know it's not Regency but I couldn't resist this photo of a rather large lady riding on an ostrich.) Ostrich-Aside-1910

Historical language
For me, the portrayal of historical language is like dialect — you need a good whiff of "historicity" to give you the flavor and effect of the era, but not real accuracy. It's like rendering dialect on the page — if totally accurate it would be tedious and difficult to read.

BelleAssembleeEven written language from the past is often difficult for modern readers to read. One would imagine that using a contemporary account such as a diary or letters from people who lived in that time and place would be foolproof, but even leaving aside differences in interpretation by different individuals, a modern reader still might not buy it.

In my second book, Tallie's Knight, where the characters were making the Grand Tour through France and Italy, I relied heavily on just such original documents. After the book came out, I heard from a fellow author that she'd heard Italian readers complaining that the few Italian phrases I'd used in the book were wrong and it was simply dreadful that I'd made such sloppy mistakes. I asked my friend to ask the readers to write to me directly, and I eventually had an email conversation with one lady.

I showed her my original sources, and her response was more or less, "Oh my goodness, you used 19th century Italian! How marvelous! What wonderful research." Still, my reputation had already been ruined in that quarter by the public discussion of my rotten Italian. So in that case, my historical accuracy counted against me. 

So it doesn't matter if the history is right, as long as it seems right to readers? Maybe.

1817-walkingdressHistorical dress

Dress is probably the easiest area to get right. Thank goodness we have so many paintings and drawings and costumes saved from the past. But even so, one has to remember that the drawings we have from publications such as La Belle Assemblée, were for the rich upper class, and just as most people today don't wear high fashion outfits, the dresses of the magazines of the day would not necessarily be worn by the ordinary people in the street. They'd likely be wearing much older clothes, often repaired and made over, or adapted from even older dresses. Hardinghowell

My heroines are often strapped for cash and I enjoy playing with these notions and having them adapt clothes and refurbish garments and hats, as people usually did, and I like to research how they did that.

What about historical events?

The trouble with that is that history is frequently in the interpretation. People might be able to agree on a date or an isolated fact or two, but stories are brought to life through images and sensations and command of fine detail. If you can lay your hands on an eye witness account or two, that helps, but even so, witnesses differ, and not just in small details.

CliveI remember a superb documentary I watched once on the Roman occupation of Wales. It opened with an eminent Oxbridge historian presenting a very plausible introduction of how the Romans occupied Wales, and how the Welsh had responded. There was a filmed reenactment and all — thrilling stuff.

Then on came a quite different, equally eminent historian who stared into the camera and said in a strong Welsh accent, "Absolute rubbish!" And then gave his version of what happened, which was just as reasonable and logical and fascinating, based on exactly the same evidence — and was quite, quite different. The whole documentary was presented like that, as a kind of debate and it was wonderful. (And I know the photo above is neither Roman nor Welsh, but it's Clive, so I rest my case, that sometimes we prefer fantasy to accuracy)

And how far do we go with historical attitudes? Sharpe
Classism, sexism, racism and more — all were alive and well in my period. Do I show my characters as racist/sexist/classist as they were most likely to be? Dear readers, I have to admit I don't. I try not to give my people modern enlightened attitudes but there are areas into which I refuse to stray.

I want my readers to like my characters and wish them well, and if they're showing abhorrent attitudes, no matter how historically likely those attitudes might be, readers (and their author) won't like them. (There's also the additional problem that many readers assume that the attitudes and prejudices expressed by characters are also those of the author, and I certainly don't want to go there, either.)

Do readers want historical accuracy anyway?
I suspect most don't. Many of the genre's most popular authors stray more to the "history-lite" side of the line, but readers love their stories and their characters, and simply don't care if the characters sound more like modern Americans (or Australians) than 19th Century English people. In fact some prefer it, because it makes the books more accessible to modern readers.

Historical writers are a bit like those historians debating about the Welsh and the Romans — we each have to decide what our own take is on historical accuracy, and in the end, it's more about the creation of a vibrant, plausible and exciting fictional world than it is about history.

Laurie, on All About Romance said" Some readers demand a great deal of history in their romance. Others prefer a smattering." So what about you? Do like a meaty helping of history, or a light snack? Do you have a favorite "history-lite" author whose writing can make you forget about history and just read for the story? What kind of historical inaccuracy really bugs you? And what's the best historical romance (or historical crime or any other historical sub-genre) you've read lately?

PS Having been asked for further details of the Welsh History program I mentioned, I've since discovered it was called The Dragon Has Two Tongues, a 13 part series on the history of Wales that was broadcast 20+ years ago, and though I couldn't find the Roman episode on line, here's the first episode of the series: http://tinyurl.com/bqkdons

195 thoughts on “Is History Bunk?”

  1. I love this debate! Never gets old 🙂
    I’ve decided you can decide whether a Regency character is supposed to be good or evil based on their stance on leeching. If they, in their infinite good sense decide that taking litres of blood from a sick person is a foolish idea, they’re obviously hero/ine material!
    However, I’ve also decided that I’d love to read a hero who believes whole-heartedly in leeching. I agree with you there are some prejudices it would be difficult to bring back, but I’m pretty keen on wading into the grey areas.
    There’s something so integrous (that should definitely be a word) about a historical character whose idealistic, visionary drive into the future comes from their own sense of what might be possible next, rather than a prescient instinct for what actually came next.

    Reply
  2. I love this debate! Never gets old 🙂
    I’ve decided you can decide whether a Regency character is supposed to be good or evil based on their stance on leeching. If they, in their infinite good sense decide that taking litres of blood from a sick person is a foolish idea, they’re obviously hero/ine material!
    However, I’ve also decided that I’d love to read a hero who believes whole-heartedly in leeching. I agree with you there are some prejudices it would be difficult to bring back, but I’m pretty keen on wading into the grey areas.
    There’s something so integrous (that should definitely be a word) about a historical character whose idealistic, visionary drive into the future comes from their own sense of what might be possible next, rather than a prescient instinct for what actually came next.

    Reply
  3. I love this debate! Never gets old 🙂
    I’ve decided you can decide whether a Regency character is supposed to be good or evil based on their stance on leeching. If they, in their infinite good sense decide that taking litres of blood from a sick person is a foolish idea, they’re obviously hero/ine material!
    However, I’ve also decided that I’d love to read a hero who believes whole-heartedly in leeching. I agree with you there are some prejudices it would be difficult to bring back, but I’m pretty keen on wading into the grey areas.
    There’s something so integrous (that should definitely be a word) about a historical character whose idealistic, visionary drive into the future comes from their own sense of what might be possible next, rather than a prescient instinct for what actually came next.

    Reply
  4. I love this debate! Never gets old 🙂
    I’ve decided you can decide whether a Regency character is supposed to be good or evil based on their stance on leeching. If they, in their infinite good sense decide that taking litres of blood from a sick person is a foolish idea, they’re obviously hero/ine material!
    However, I’ve also decided that I’d love to read a hero who believes whole-heartedly in leeching. I agree with you there are some prejudices it would be difficult to bring back, but I’m pretty keen on wading into the grey areas.
    There’s something so integrous (that should definitely be a word) about a historical character whose idealistic, visionary drive into the future comes from their own sense of what might be possible next, rather than a prescient instinct for what actually came next.

    Reply
  5. I love this debate! Never gets old 🙂
    I’ve decided you can decide whether a Regency character is supposed to be good or evil based on their stance on leeching. If they, in their infinite good sense decide that taking litres of blood from a sick person is a foolish idea, they’re obviously hero/ine material!
    However, I’ve also decided that I’d love to read a hero who believes whole-heartedly in leeching. I agree with you there are some prejudices it would be difficult to bring back, but I’m pretty keen on wading into the grey areas.
    There’s something so integrous (that should definitely be a word) about a historical character whose idealistic, visionary drive into the future comes from their own sense of what might be possible next, rather than a prescient instinct for what actually came next.

    Reply
  6. Thanks, Anna. It is a bit of an old chestnut, but the truth is, every historical writer deals with this with every book they write and every piece of research they do.
    Speaking of leeches, in my book Stolen Princess, leeches are used for good instead of evil 😉 — the boys are sent out to collect leeches that are then used to reduce the bruising and inflammation of the hero’s injuries.
    But In Perfect Kiss I had the hero dismiss a doctor who the heroine thought was bleeding a patient too much. I had a reader complain that it was wrong to have the heroine think she knew more than a doctor — but don’t we often think that, even now? I thought it was a reasonable call, because if someone is getting weaker and sicker, common sense would indicate the constant bleeding can’t be helping. And I’d run the scenario past a doctor friend of mine and he’d given me the solution — but again, the reader thought it unbelievable. Another example of how historical accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Reply
  7. Thanks, Anna. It is a bit of an old chestnut, but the truth is, every historical writer deals with this with every book they write and every piece of research they do.
    Speaking of leeches, in my book Stolen Princess, leeches are used for good instead of evil 😉 — the boys are sent out to collect leeches that are then used to reduce the bruising and inflammation of the hero’s injuries.
    But In Perfect Kiss I had the hero dismiss a doctor who the heroine thought was bleeding a patient too much. I had a reader complain that it was wrong to have the heroine think she knew more than a doctor — but don’t we often think that, even now? I thought it was a reasonable call, because if someone is getting weaker and sicker, common sense would indicate the constant bleeding can’t be helping. And I’d run the scenario past a doctor friend of mine and he’d given me the solution — but again, the reader thought it unbelievable. Another example of how historical accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Reply
  8. Thanks, Anna. It is a bit of an old chestnut, but the truth is, every historical writer deals with this with every book they write and every piece of research they do.
    Speaking of leeches, in my book Stolen Princess, leeches are used for good instead of evil 😉 — the boys are sent out to collect leeches that are then used to reduce the bruising and inflammation of the hero’s injuries.
    But In Perfect Kiss I had the hero dismiss a doctor who the heroine thought was bleeding a patient too much. I had a reader complain that it was wrong to have the heroine think she knew more than a doctor — but don’t we often think that, even now? I thought it was a reasonable call, because if someone is getting weaker and sicker, common sense would indicate the constant bleeding can’t be helping. And I’d run the scenario past a doctor friend of mine and he’d given me the solution — but again, the reader thought it unbelievable. Another example of how historical accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Reply
  9. Thanks, Anna. It is a bit of an old chestnut, but the truth is, every historical writer deals with this with every book they write and every piece of research they do.
    Speaking of leeches, in my book Stolen Princess, leeches are used for good instead of evil 😉 — the boys are sent out to collect leeches that are then used to reduce the bruising and inflammation of the hero’s injuries.
    But In Perfect Kiss I had the hero dismiss a doctor who the heroine thought was bleeding a patient too much. I had a reader complain that it was wrong to have the heroine think she knew more than a doctor — but don’t we often think that, even now? I thought it was a reasonable call, because if someone is getting weaker and sicker, common sense would indicate the constant bleeding can’t be helping. And I’d run the scenario past a doctor friend of mine and he’d given me the solution — but again, the reader thought it unbelievable. Another example of how historical accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Reply
  10. Thanks, Anna. It is a bit of an old chestnut, but the truth is, every historical writer deals with this with every book they write and every piece of research they do.
    Speaking of leeches, in my book Stolen Princess, leeches are used for good instead of evil 😉 — the boys are sent out to collect leeches that are then used to reduce the bruising and inflammation of the hero’s injuries.
    But In Perfect Kiss I had the hero dismiss a doctor who the heroine thought was bleeding a patient too much. I had a reader complain that it was wrong to have the heroine think she knew more than a doctor — but don’t we often think that, even now? I thought it was a reasonable call, because if someone is getting weaker and sicker, common sense would indicate the constant bleeding can’t be helping. And I’d run the scenario past a doctor friend of mine and he’d given me the solution — but again, the reader thought it unbelievable. Another example of how historical accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Reply
  11. I had someone tell me I was showing off with my word choices, every single one of which I’d read in Regency romances and a few of which I’d grown up hearing. I’m willing to be a little flexible with word choices, unless it’s blatantly contemporary not historical.
    As to historical accuracy, I’ll pass on some of the less pleasant aspects. However, I really hate it when it feels like they’ve taken a contemporary heroine or hero and dropped them into a historical setting, without the benefit of time travel. Women did not have the same opportunities men did. A woman opening a business, unless it was of the less reputable variety, was not common practice. In a way, it trivializes those who accomplished such feats at the time.

    Reply
  12. I had someone tell me I was showing off with my word choices, every single one of which I’d read in Regency romances and a few of which I’d grown up hearing. I’m willing to be a little flexible with word choices, unless it’s blatantly contemporary not historical.
    As to historical accuracy, I’ll pass on some of the less pleasant aspects. However, I really hate it when it feels like they’ve taken a contemporary heroine or hero and dropped them into a historical setting, without the benefit of time travel. Women did not have the same opportunities men did. A woman opening a business, unless it was of the less reputable variety, was not common practice. In a way, it trivializes those who accomplished such feats at the time.

    Reply
  13. I had someone tell me I was showing off with my word choices, every single one of which I’d read in Regency romances and a few of which I’d grown up hearing. I’m willing to be a little flexible with word choices, unless it’s blatantly contemporary not historical.
    As to historical accuracy, I’ll pass on some of the less pleasant aspects. However, I really hate it when it feels like they’ve taken a contemporary heroine or hero and dropped them into a historical setting, without the benefit of time travel. Women did not have the same opportunities men did. A woman opening a business, unless it was of the less reputable variety, was not common practice. In a way, it trivializes those who accomplished such feats at the time.

    Reply
  14. I had someone tell me I was showing off with my word choices, every single one of which I’d read in Regency romances and a few of which I’d grown up hearing. I’m willing to be a little flexible with word choices, unless it’s blatantly contemporary not historical.
    As to historical accuracy, I’ll pass on some of the less pleasant aspects. However, I really hate it when it feels like they’ve taken a contemporary heroine or hero and dropped them into a historical setting, without the benefit of time travel. Women did not have the same opportunities men did. A woman opening a business, unless it was of the less reputable variety, was not common practice. In a way, it trivializes those who accomplished such feats at the time.

    Reply
  15. I had someone tell me I was showing off with my word choices, every single one of which I’d read in Regency romances and a few of which I’d grown up hearing. I’m willing to be a little flexible with word choices, unless it’s blatantly contemporary not historical.
    As to historical accuracy, I’ll pass on some of the less pleasant aspects. However, I really hate it when it feels like they’ve taken a contemporary heroine or hero and dropped them into a historical setting, without the benefit of time travel. Women did not have the same opportunities men did. A woman opening a business, unless it was of the less reputable variety, was not common practice. In a way, it trivializes those who accomplished such feats at the time.

    Reply
  16. For books that I read & love I prefer that known historical events are truer to reality, but that attitudes are better than existed then. Many common attitudes & beliefs of the past were sexist, racist, classist, etc., but those things don’t need to be shoved in our faces. The protagonists should have a more tolerant attitude, but antagonists may show some intolerance common to the era. (makes them less likeable).
    Regarding historical accuracy in the non-upper classes: When I went to the UK a few years ago, I was invited to see a “women’s book” at the Chester Archives. (can’t remember the proper name) This was a book of medical notes, medicines, recipes, and common/uncommon knowledge. It was fascinating!! and it was very old, at least 500+, and handwritten. I wasn’t able to spend much time reading it, but I wanted to. (if someone wants to see it, I do know that they must make an appointment to view it)
    Thanks to all of the Word Wenches for your dedication to historical information in your stories!!

    Reply
  17. For books that I read & love I prefer that known historical events are truer to reality, but that attitudes are better than existed then. Many common attitudes & beliefs of the past were sexist, racist, classist, etc., but those things don’t need to be shoved in our faces. The protagonists should have a more tolerant attitude, but antagonists may show some intolerance common to the era. (makes them less likeable).
    Regarding historical accuracy in the non-upper classes: When I went to the UK a few years ago, I was invited to see a “women’s book” at the Chester Archives. (can’t remember the proper name) This was a book of medical notes, medicines, recipes, and common/uncommon knowledge. It was fascinating!! and it was very old, at least 500+, and handwritten. I wasn’t able to spend much time reading it, but I wanted to. (if someone wants to see it, I do know that they must make an appointment to view it)
    Thanks to all of the Word Wenches for your dedication to historical information in your stories!!

    Reply
  18. For books that I read & love I prefer that known historical events are truer to reality, but that attitudes are better than existed then. Many common attitudes & beliefs of the past were sexist, racist, classist, etc., but those things don’t need to be shoved in our faces. The protagonists should have a more tolerant attitude, but antagonists may show some intolerance common to the era. (makes them less likeable).
    Regarding historical accuracy in the non-upper classes: When I went to the UK a few years ago, I was invited to see a “women’s book” at the Chester Archives. (can’t remember the proper name) This was a book of medical notes, medicines, recipes, and common/uncommon knowledge. It was fascinating!! and it was very old, at least 500+, and handwritten. I wasn’t able to spend much time reading it, but I wanted to. (if someone wants to see it, I do know that they must make an appointment to view it)
    Thanks to all of the Word Wenches for your dedication to historical information in your stories!!

    Reply
  19. For books that I read & love I prefer that known historical events are truer to reality, but that attitudes are better than existed then. Many common attitudes & beliefs of the past were sexist, racist, classist, etc., but those things don’t need to be shoved in our faces. The protagonists should have a more tolerant attitude, but antagonists may show some intolerance common to the era. (makes them less likeable).
    Regarding historical accuracy in the non-upper classes: When I went to the UK a few years ago, I was invited to see a “women’s book” at the Chester Archives. (can’t remember the proper name) This was a book of medical notes, medicines, recipes, and common/uncommon knowledge. It was fascinating!! and it was very old, at least 500+, and handwritten. I wasn’t able to spend much time reading it, but I wanted to. (if someone wants to see it, I do know that they must make an appointment to view it)
    Thanks to all of the Word Wenches for your dedication to historical information in your stories!!

    Reply
  20. For books that I read & love I prefer that known historical events are truer to reality, but that attitudes are better than existed then. Many common attitudes & beliefs of the past were sexist, racist, classist, etc., but those things don’t need to be shoved in our faces. The protagonists should have a more tolerant attitude, but antagonists may show some intolerance common to the era. (makes them less likeable).
    Regarding historical accuracy in the non-upper classes: When I went to the UK a few years ago, I was invited to see a “women’s book” at the Chester Archives. (can’t remember the proper name) This was a book of medical notes, medicines, recipes, and common/uncommon knowledge. It was fascinating!! and it was very old, at least 500+, and handwritten. I wasn’t able to spend much time reading it, but I wanted to. (if someone wants to see it, I do know that they must make an appointment to view it)
    Thanks to all of the Word Wenches for your dedication to historical information in your stories!!

    Reply
  21. there are always people in every era who are ahead of their time, so attitudes don’t bother me much. As for language since I don’t read Old English or Gaelic, translating to modern English is fine by me. Though the proper honorifics (My Lord, etc — though I get confused when people call me ma’am) are appropriate. I get irked at really sloppy historical mistakes. I just read a book by a well regarded best-selling romance novelist who in her book that states on the first page 1573 that the hero could not get his clansman back from America to support his quest for his true love. Unless I am really mistaken there weren’t any permanent settlements until 1585 and that one vanished.

    Reply
  22. there are always people in every era who are ahead of their time, so attitudes don’t bother me much. As for language since I don’t read Old English or Gaelic, translating to modern English is fine by me. Though the proper honorifics (My Lord, etc — though I get confused when people call me ma’am) are appropriate. I get irked at really sloppy historical mistakes. I just read a book by a well regarded best-selling romance novelist who in her book that states on the first page 1573 that the hero could not get his clansman back from America to support his quest for his true love. Unless I am really mistaken there weren’t any permanent settlements until 1585 and that one vanished.

    Reply
  23. there are always people in every era who are ahead of their time, so attitudes don’t bother me much. As for language since I don’t read Old English or Gaelic, translating to modern English is fine by me. Though the proper honorifics (My Lord, etc — though I get confused when people call me ma’am) are appropriate. I get irked at really sloppy historical mistakes. I just read a book by a well regarded best-selling romance novelist who in her book that states on the first page 1573 that the hero could not get his clansman back from America to support his quest for his true love. Unless I am really mistaken there weren’t any permanent settlements until 1585 and that one vanished.

    Reply
  24. there are always people in every era who are ahead of their time, so attitudes don’t bother me much. As for language since I don’t read Old English or Gaelic, translating to modern English is fine by me. Though the proper honorifics (My Lord, etc — though I get confused when people call me ma’am) are appropriate. I get irked at really sloppy historical mistakes. I just read a book by a well regarded best-selling romance novelist who in her book that states on the first page 1573 that the hero could not get his clansman back from America to support his quest for his true love. Unless I am really mistaken there weren’t any permanent settlements until 1585 and that one vanished.

    Reply
  25. there are always people in every era who are ahead of their time, so attitudes don’t bother me much. As for language since I don’t read Old English or Gaelic, translating to modern English is fine by me. Though the proper honorifics (My Lord, etc — though I get confused when people call me ma’am) are appropriate. I get irked at really sloppy historical mistakes. I just read a book by a well regarded best-selling romance novelist who in her book that states on the first page 1573 that the hero could not get his clansman back from America to support his quest for his true love. Unless I am really mistaken there weren’t any permanent settlements until 1585 and that one vanished.

    Reply
  26. I would like to say that I am firmly in the camp of historical accuracy, but I’m not entirely. It depends partly on the kind of book and partly on the kind of inaccuracy.
    Farce, I think, can play far looser with history than more serious works. Serious in terms of realism, I mean. After all, in farce everything is unrealistic. Think of screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby.”
    Unless you are writing alternate history, the kind of inaccuracy that is likely to knock readers out of the book is a flagrant error like saying Napoleon won at Waterloo or Michaelangelo painted the Mona Lisa. And if you are bringing in real historical figures, they have to bear some resemblance to the historical record. You can bring in Wellington, but you can’t make him a bleeding heart softie who wanted nothing more than to improve the lot of the poor.
    Mostly, I think it’s a matter of world-building. People talk about that mainly in connection with fantasy and paranormal books, but I think it is something every author does. As long as the characters and events are convincing in terms of the world the author has created, the reader will be carried along.
    I’m being a bit longwinded here for a post, so I’ll shut up now.
    Love your books, incidentally.

    Reply
  27. I would like to say that I am firmly in the camp of historical accuracy, but I’m not entirely. It depends partly on the kind of book and partly on the kind of inaccuracy.
    Farce, I think, can play far looser with history than more serious works. Serious in terms of realism, I mean. After all, in farce everything is unrealistic. Think of screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby.”
    Unless you are writing alternate history, the kind of inaccuracy that is likely to knock readers out of the book is a flagrant error like saying Napoleon won at Waterloo or Michaelangelo painted the Mona Lisa. And if you are bringing in real historical figures, they have to bear some resemblance to the historical record. You can bring in Wellington, but you can’t make him a bleeding heart softie who wanted nothing more than to improve the lot of the poor.
    Mostly, I think it’s a matter of world-building. People talk about that mainly in connection with fantasy and paranormal books, but I think it is something every author does. As long as the characters and events are convincing in terms of the world the author has created, the reader will be carried along.
    I’m being a bit longwinded here for a post, so I’ll shut up now.
    Love your books, incidentally.

    Reply
  28. I would like to say that I am firmly in the camp of historical accuracy, but I’m not entirely. It depends partly on the kind of book and partly on the kind of inaccuracy.
    Farce, I think, can play far looser with history than more serious works. Serious in terms of realism, I mean. After all, in farce everything is unrealistic. Think of screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby.”
    Unless you are writing alternate history, the kind of inaccuracy that is likely to knock readers out of the book is a flagrant error like saying Napoleon won at Waterloo or Michaelangelo painted the Mona Lisa. And if you are bringing in real historical figures, they have to bear some resemblance to the historical record. You can bring in Wellington, but you can’t make him a bleeding heart softie who wanted nothing more than to improve the lot of the poor.
    Mostly, I think it’s a matter of world-building. People talk about that mainly in connection with fantasy and paranormal books, but I think it is something every author does. As long as the characters and events are convincing in terms of the world the author has created, the reader will be carried along.
    I’m being a bit longwinded here for a post, so I’ll shut up now.
    Love your books, incidentally.

    Reply
  29. I would like to say that I am firmly in the camp of historical accuracy, but I’m not entirely. It depends partly on the kind of book and partly on the kind of inaccuracy.
    Farce, I think, can play far looser with history than more serious works. Serious in terms of realism, I mean. After all, in farce everything is unrealistic. Think of screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby.”
    Unless you are writing alternate history, the kind of inaccuracy that is likely to knock readers out of the book is a flagrant error like saying Napoleon won at Waterloo or Michaelangelo painted the Mona Lisa. And if you are bringing in real historical figures, they have to bear some resemblance to the historical record. You can bring in Wellington, but you can’t make him a bleeding heart softie who wanted nothing more than to improve the lot of the poor.
    Mostly, I think it’s a matter of world-building. People talk about that mainly in connection with fantasy and paranormal books, but I think it is something every author does. As long as the characters and events are convincing in terms of the world the author has created, the reader will be carried along.
    I’m being a bit longwinded here for a post, so I’ll shut up now.
    Love your books, incidentally.

    Reply
  30. I would like to say that I am firmly in the camp of historical accuracy, but I’m not entirely. It depends partly on the kind of book and partly on the kind of inaccuracy.
    Farce, I think, can play far looser with history than more serious works. Serious in terms of realism, I mean. After all, in farce everything is unrealistic. Think of screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby.”
    Unless you are writing alternate history, the kind of inaccuracy that is likely to knock readers out of the book is a flagrant error like saying Napoleon won at Waterloo or Michaelangelo painted the Mona Lisa. And if you are bringing in real historical figures, they have to bear some resemblance to the historical record. You can bring in Wellington, but you can’t make him a bleeding heart softie who wanted nothing more than to improve the lot of the poor.
    Mostly, I think it’s a matter of world-building. People talk about that mainly in connection with fantasy and paranormal books, but I think it is something every author does. As long as the characters and events are convincing in terms of the world the author has created, the reader will be carried along.
    I’m being a bit longwinded here for a post, so I’ll shut up now.
    Love your books, incidentally.

    Reply
  31. I agree with Jane that it’s a matter of balance with topic and voice and degree of world building. But right now I’m working through one of my early Regencies and while the language resembled Austen’s, it’s giving me a huge headache. The roundaboutation of sentences is excruciating! So historical accuracy is not necessarily a good thing. Just don’t have a Regency heroine calling a guy “hawt” please.

    Reply
  32. I agree with Jane that it’s a matter of balance with topic and voice and degree of world building. But right now I’m working through one of my early Regencies and while the language resembled Austen’s, it’s giving me a huge headache. The roundaboutation of sentences is excruciating! So historical accuracy is not necessarily a good thing. Just don’t have a Regency heroine calling a guy “hawt” please.

    Reply
  33. I agree with Jane that it’s a matter of balance with topic and voice and degree of world building. But right now I’m working through one of my early Regencies and while the language resembled Austen’s, it’s giving me a huge headache. The roundaboutation of sentences is excruciating! So historical accuracy is not necessarily a good thing. Just don’t have a Regency heroine calling a guy “hawt” please.

    Reply
  34. I agree with Jane that it’s a matter of balance with topic and voice and degree of world building. But right now I’m working through one of my early Regencies and while the language resembled Austen’s, it’s giving me a huge headache. The roundaboutation of sentences is excruciating! So historical accuracy is not necessarily a good thing. Just don’t have a Regency heroine calling a guy “hawt” please.

    Reply
  35. I agree with Jane that it’s a matter of balance with topic and voice and degree of world building. But right now I’m working through one of my early Regencies and while the language resembled Austen’s, it’s giving me a huge headache. The roundaboutation of sentences is excruciating! So historical accuracy is not necessarily a good thing. Just don’t have a Regency heroine calling a guy “hawt” please.

    Reply
  36. As always, it depends. I clearly want some degree of accuracy or I wouldn’t bother to read historicals, but it has to be more than just pretty dresses and horse-drawn carriages. I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period. I don’t need descriptions of historical plumbing or prejudices, but I do want to get a sense of how a woman would try to exert some control over her own life in an era when she had few, if any, legal rights. I also want both hero and heroine to be aware of possible repercussions of their actions when they do not follow the rules. Doesn’t mean they don’t flout them anyway, but I generally don’t care for blithe disregard.

    Reply
  37. As always, it depends. I clearly want some degree of accuracy or I wouldn’t bother to read historicals, but it has to be more than just pretty dresses and horse-drawn carriages. I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period. I don’t need descriptions of historical plumbing or prejudices, but I do want to get a sense of how a woman would try to exert some control over her own life in an era when she had few, if any, legal rights. I also want both hero and heroine to be aware of possible repercussions of their actions when they do not follow the rules. Doesn’t mean they don’t flout them anyway, but I generally don’t care for blithe disregard.

    Reply
  38. As always, it depends. I clearly want some degree of accuracy or I wouldn’t bother to read historicals, but it has to be more than just pretty dresses and horse-drawn carriages. I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period. I don’t need descriptions of historical plumbing or prejudices, but I do want to get a sense of how a woman would try to exert some control over her own life in an era when she had few, if any, legal rights. I also want both hero and heroine to be aware of possible repercussions of their actions when they do not follow the rules. Doesn’t mean they don’t flout them anyway, but I generally don’t care for blithe disregard.

    Reply
  39. As always, it depends. I clearly want some degree of accuracy or I wouldn’t bother to read historicals, but it has to be more than just pretty dresses and horse-drawn carriages. I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period. I don’t need descriptions of historical plumbing or prejudices, but I do want to get a sense of how a woman would try to exert some control over her own life in an era when she had few, if any, legal rights. I also want both hero and heroine to be aware of possible repercussions of their actions when they do not follow the rules. Doesn’t mean they don’t flout them anyway, but I generally don’t care for blithe disregard.

    Reply
  40. As always, it depends. I clearly want some degree of accuracy or I wouldn’t bother to read historicals, but it has to be more than just pretty dresses and horse-drawn carriages. I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period. I don’t need descriptions of historical plumbing or prejudices, but I do want to get a sense of how a woman would try to exert some control over her own life in an era when she had few, if any, legal rights. I also want both hero and heroine to be aware of possible repercussions of their actions when they do not follow the rules. Doesn’t mean they don’t flout them anyway, but I generally don’t care for blithe disregard.

    Reply
  41. Judy, I would agree with you that women did not have the same choices men had, and I feel much the same about heroines with blatantly modern attitudes in a historical.
    At the same time, there have always been women who broke the mold, and who did extraordinary things, so I don’t think people need to stick modern women in historicals — there were plenty of amazing historical women.

    Reply
  42. Judy, I would agree with you that women did not have the same choices men had, and I feel much the same about heroines with blatantly modern attitudes in a historical.
    At the same time, there have always been women who broke the mold, and who did extraordinary things, so I don’t think people need to stick modern women in historicals — there were plenty of amazing historical women.

    Reply
  43. Judy, I would agree with you that women did not have the same choices men had, and I feel much the same about heroines with blatantly modern attitudes in a historical.
    At the same time, there have always been women who broke the mold, and who did extraordinary things, so I don’t think people need to stick modern women in historicals — there were plenty of amazing historical women.

    Reply
  44. Judy, I would agree with you that women did not have the same choices men had, and I feel much the same about heroines with blatantly modern attitudes in a historical.
    At the same time, there have always been women who broke the mold, and who did extraordinary things, so I don’t think people need to stick modern women in historicals — there were plenty of amazing historical women.

    Reply
  45. Judy, I would agree with you that women did not have the same choices men had, and I feel much the same about heroines with blatantly modern attitudes in a historical.
    At the same time, there have always been women who broke the mold, and who did extraordinary things, so I don’t think people need to stick modern women in historicals — there were plenty of amazing historical women.

    Reply
  46. Suzy, I think you’re right — in some ways we prefer our historicals to be idealized in some areas.
    That book in the Chester archives sounds fascinating. We have a book in my family that’s full of medical notes and recipes —even a gypsy cure which according to legend was given to a female ancestor in exchange for help she gave to a young gypsy woman in dire labour — and which has been handed down by the women in the family for generations. My elderly aunt told me about it, and it was old when her grandmother first showed it to her. But alas, it now belongs to the women a different branch of the family, so I haven’t seen it. But I do love the story.

    Reply
  47. Suzy, I think you’re right — in some ways we prefer our historicals to be idealized in some areas.
    That book in the Chester archives sounds fascinating. We have a book in my family that’s full of medical notes and recipes —even a gypsy cure which according to legend was given to a female ancestor in exchange for help she gave to a young gypsy woman in dire labour — and which has been handed down by the women in the family for generations. My elderly aunt told me about it, and it was old when her grandmother first showed it to her. But alas, it now belongs to the women a different branch of the family, so I haven’t seen it. But I do love the story.

    Reply
  48. Suzy, I think you’re right — in some ways we prefer our historicals to be idealized in some areas.
    That book in the Chester archives sounds fascinating. We have a book in my family that’s full of medical notes and recipes —even a gypsy cure which according to legend was given to a female ancestor in exchange for help she gave to a young gypsy woman in dire labour — and which has been handed down by the women in the family for generations. My elderly aunt told me about it, and it was old when her grandmother first showed it to her. But alas, it now belongs to the women a different branch of the family, so I haven’t seen it. But I do love the story.

    Reply
  49. Suzy, I think you’re right — in some ways we prefer our historicals to be idealized in some areas.
    That book in the Chester archives sounds fascinating. We have a book in my family that’s full of medical notes and recipes —even a gypsy cure which according to legend was given to a female ancestor in exchange for help she gave to a young gypsy woman in dire labour — and which has been handed down by the women in the family for generations. My elderly aunt told me about it, and it was old when her grandmother first showed it to her. But alas, it now belongs to the women a different branch of the family, so I haven’t seen it. But I do love the story.

    Reply
  50. Suzy, I think you’re right — in some ways we prefer our historicals to be idealized in some areas.
    That book in the Chester archives sounds fascinating. We have a book in my family that’s full of medical notes and recipes —even a gypsy cure which according to legend was given to a female ancestor in exchange for help she gave to a young gypsy woman in dire labour — and which has been handed down by the women in the family for generations. My elderly aunt told me about it, and it was old when her grandmother first showed it to her. But alas, it now belongs to the women a different branch of the family, so I haven’t seen it. But I do love the story.

    Reply
  51. Lyn, I agree with you about some people being ahead of their time, though I always think there should be some consequences in a book if they are — even if it’s just other characters looking askance at them or muttering behind their backs.
    As for sloppy mistakes, I tend to agree with you — except I made one myself in my 2010 book. My only excuse was that I was so certain of my timing that I didn’t think I needed to look it up. It’s the things you think you don’t know that you research, not the ones you’re sure you know.

    Reply
  52. Lyn, I agree with you about some people being ahead of their time, though I always think there should be some consequences in a book if they are — even if it’s just other characters looking askance at them or muttering behind their backs.
    As for sloppy mistakes, I tend to agree with you — except I made one myself in my 2010 book. My only excuse was that I was so certain of my timing that I didn’t think I needed to look it up. It’s the things you think you don’t know that you research, not the ones you’re sure you know.

    Reply
  53. Lyn, I agree with you about some people being ahead of their time, though I always think there should be some consequences in a book if they are — even if it’s just other characters looking askance at them or muttering behind their backs.
    As for sloppy mistakes, I tend to agree with you — except I made one myself in my 2010 book. My only excuse was that I was so certain of my timing that I didn’t think I needed to look it up. It’s the things you think you don’t know that you research, not the ones you’re sure you know.

    Reply
  54. Lyn, I agree with you about some people being ahead of their time, though I always think there should be some consequences in a book if they are — even if it’s just other characters looking askance at them or muttering behind their backs.
    As for sloppy mistakes, I tend to agree with you — except I made one myself in my 2010 book. My only excuse was that I was so certain of my timing that I didn’t think I needed to look it up. It’s the things you think you don’t know that you research, not the ones you’re sure you know.

    Reply
  55. Lyn, I agree with you about some people being ahead of their time, though I always think there should be some consequences in a book if they are — even if it’s just other characters looking askance at them or muttering behind their backs.
    As for sloppy mistakes, I tend to agree with you — except I made one myself in my 2010 book. My only excuse was that I was so certain of my timing that I didn’t think I needed to look it up. It’s the things you think you don’t know that you research, not the ones you’re sure you know.

    Reply
  56. Thanks Jane. Yes, I think farce does lend itself to playing more fast and loose with historical fact — straight historicals, by their very nature, are implying they take their history seriously.
    Then again, IMO comedy works best when people recognize the underlying human traits and essential truths of a situation — even an outwardly crazy made up situation— that makes comedy work. It’s that recognition that will often surprise a laugh out of us when we’re least expecting it.
    And you’re absolutely right about the importance of world building. I’ve given talks on world building and have had people express surprise because I’m not a fantasy writer. But a good historical will sweep you into another time and another world in just the same way that the best fantasy writers do.

    Reply
  57. Thanks Jane. Yes, I think farce does lend itself to playing more fast and loose with historical fact — straight historicals, by their very nature, are implying they take their history seriously.
    Then again, IMO comedy works best when people recognize the underlying human traits and essential truths of a situation — even an outwardly crazy made up situation— that makes comedy work. It’s that recognition that will often surprise a laugh out of us when we’re least expecting it.
    And you’re absolutely right about the importance of world building. I’ve given talks on world building and have had people express surprise because I’m not a fantasy writer. But a good historical will sweep you into another time and another world in just the same way that the best fantasy writers do.

    Reply
  58. Thanks Jane. Yes, I think farce does lend itself to playing more fast and loose with historical fact — straight historicals, by their very nature, are implying they take their history seriously.
    Then again, IMO comedy works best when people recognize the underlying human traits and essential truths of a situation — even an outwardly crazy made up situation— that makes comedy work. It’s that recognition that will often surprise a laugh out of us when we’re least expecting it.
    And you’re absolutely right about the importance of world building. I’ve given talks on world building and have had people express surprise because I’m not a fantasy writer. But a good historical will sweep you into another time and another world in just the same way that the best fantasy writers do.

    Reply
  59. Thanks Jane. Yes, I think farce does lend itself to playing more fast and loose with historical fact — straight historicals, by their very nature, are implying they take their history seriously.
    Then again, IMO comedy works best when people recognize the underlying human traits and essential truths of a situation — even an outwardly crazy made up situation— that makes comedy work. It’s that recognition that will often surprise a laugh out of us when we’re least expecting it.
    And you’re absolutely right about the importance of world building. I’ve given talks on world building and have had people express surprise because I’m not a fantasy writer. But a good historical will sweep you into another time and another world in just the same way that the best fantasy writers do.

    Reply
  60. Thanks Jane. Yes, I think farce does lend itself to playing more fast and loose with historical fact — straight historicals, by their very nature, are implying they take their history seriously.
    Then again, IMO comedy works best when people recognize the underlying human traits and essential truths of a situation — even an outwardly crazy made up situation— that makes comedy work. It’s that recognition that will often surprise a laugh out of us when we’re least expecting it.
    And you’re absolutely right about the importance of world building. I’ve given talks on world building and have had people express surprise because I’m not a fantasy writer. But a good historical will sweep you into another time and another world in just the same way that the best fantasy writers do.

    Reply
  61. Oh, dang, Pat — You mean I have to take out the first line in my latest wip: “It is an attitude, generally acknowledged in society, that be they equally rich, a ripped duke is more desirable to a needy regency babe than a hawt baron.” Curses! 😉

    Reply
  62. Oh, dang, Pat — You mean I have to take out the first line in my latest wip: “It is an attitude, generally acknowledged in society, that be they equally rich, a ripped duke is more desirable to a needy regency babe than a hawt baron.” Curses! 😉

    Reply
  63. Oh, dang, Pat — You mean I have to take out the first line in my latest wip: “It is an attitude, generally acknowledged in society, that be they equally rich, a ripped duke is more desirable to a needy regency babe than a hawt baron.” Curses! 😉

    Reply
  64. Oh, dang, Pat — You mean I have to take out the first line in my latest wip: “It is an attitude, generally acknowledged in society, that be they equally rich, a ripped duke is more desirable to a needy regency babe than a hawt baron.” Curses! 😉

    Reply
  65. Oh, dang, Pat — You mean I have to take out the first line in my latest wip: “It is an attitude, generally acknowledged in society, that be they equally rich, a ripped duke is more desirable to a needy regency babe than a hawt baron.” Curses! 😉

    Reply
  66. Susan/DC I confess this is what I want in a historical too. “I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period.”
    I want to identify with characters in a historical story, but I want it to be historical and different from my time, not just a matter of dresses. I love the difference. And definitely when people flout the rules and conventions of their day, they need to experience the consequences — what’s the point of it being a historical otherwise?

    Reply
  67. Susan/DC I confess this is what I want in a historical too. “I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period.”
    I want to identify with characters in a historical story, but I want it to be historical and different from my time, not just a matter of dresses. I love the difference. And definitely when people flout the rules and conventions of their day, they need to experience the consequences — what’s the point of it being a historical otherwise?

    Reply
  68. Susan/DC I confess this is what I want in a historical too. “I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period.”
    I want to identify with characters in a historical story, but I want it to be historical and different from my time, not just a matter of dresses. I love the difference. And definitely when people flout the rules and conventions of their day, they need to experience the consequences — what’s the point of it being a historical otherwise?

    Reply
  69. Susan/DC I confess this is what I want in a historical too. “I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period.”
    I want to identify with characters in a historical story, but I want it to be historical and different from my time, not just a matter of dresses. I love the difference. And definitely when people flout the rules and conventions of their day, they need to experience the consequences — what’s the point of it being a historical otherwise?

    Reply
  70. Susan/DC I confess this is what I want in a historical too. “I want a sense of how people faced issues of love, marriage, ambition, etc. within the constraints of their class and time period.”
    I want to identify with characters in a historical story, but I want it to be historical and different from my time, not just a matter of dresses. I love the difference. And definitely when people flout the rules and conventions of their day, they need to experience the consequences — what’s the point of it being a historical otherwise?

    Reply
  71. I can allow a historical author a lot of leeway to make up things of conversation, daily life, habits, dress, circumstances, surroundings and all that IF she doesn’t contravene something that I think of as an established fact. She’s welcome to use her imagination but she can’t go against commonly accepted historical fact, unless she can make a darn good case that she’s right and the historians are wrong – which would certainly bring the story to an abrupt halt while the reader wades through a infodump.
    It’s a fine line, I guess.
    Mostly what annoys me are 21st century sexual attitudes foisted onto 18th and 19th century characters. Women were much afraid of losing their reputations, yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook. No, it could mean being shunned and cast out – no money, no friends, no home that would admit you, permanent exile, or descent into the halfworld of prostitution, life on the streets, early death – for the woman and her child, if one resulted, as well. It didn’t happen in all cases, of course, but it was a real risk and a real fear for many. Deliberately ignoring it makes me think the heroine is a total airhead, and who wants to identify with a total airhead? And the man who would expose his woman to such danger is no hero to me.
    Finer points of history such as the date of a specific invention, which I wouldn’t know without looking up, can be finagled. I wouldn’t know and it wouldn’t spoil the story if I did know. And too any author could make an innocent error about that sort of thing. But ahistorical social attitudes yank me out of the story and invalidate the book for me. As does language that is *too* modern.
    Preaching to the choir (of authors) here, I know.

    Reply
  72. I can allow a historical author a lot of leeway to make up things of conversation, daily life, habits, dress, circumstances, surroundings and all that IF she doesn’t contravene something that I think of as an established fact. She’s welcome to use her imagination but she can’t go against commonly accepted historical fact, unless she can make a darn good case that she’s right and the historians are wrong – which would certainly bring the story to an abrupt halt while the reader wades through a infodump.
    It’s a fine line, I guess.
    Mostly what annoys me are 21st century sexual attitudes foisted onto 18th and 19th century characters. Women were much afraid of losing their reputations, yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook. No, it could mean being shunned and cast out – no money, no friends, no home that would admit you, permanent exile, or descent into the halfworld of prostitution, life on the streets, early death – for the woman and her child, if one resulted, as well. It didn’t happen in all cases, of course, but it was a real risk and a real fear for many. Deliberately ignoring it makes me think the heroine is a total airhead, and who wants to identify with a total airhead? And the man who would expose his woman to such danger is no hero to me.
    Finer points of history such as the date of a specific invention, which I wouldn’t know without looking up, can be finagled. I wouldn’t know and it wouldn’t spoil the story if I did know. And too any author could make an innocent error about that sort of thing. But ahistorical social attitudes yank me out of the story and invalidate the book for me. As does language that is *too* modern.
    Preaching to the choir (of authors) here, I know.

    Reply
  73. I can allow a historical author a lot of leeway to make up things of conversation, daily life, habits, dress, circumstances, surroundings and all that IF she doesn’t contravene something that I think of as an established fact. She’s welcome to use her imagination but she can’t go against commonly accepted historical fact, unless she can make a darn good case that she’s right and the historians are wrong – which would certainly bring the story to an abrupt halt while the reader wades through a infodump.
    It’s a fine line, I guess.
    Mostly what annoys me are 21st century sexual attitudes foisted onto 18th and 19th century characters. Women were much afraid of losing their reputations, yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook. No, it could mean being shunned and cast out – no money, no friends, no home that would admit you, permanent exile, or descent into the halfworld of prostitution, life on the streets, early death – for the woman and her child, if one resulted, as well. It didn’t happen in all cases, of course, but it was a real risk and a real fear for many. Deliberately ignoring it makes me think the heroine is a total airhead, and who wants to identify with a total airhead? And the man who would expose his woman to such danger is no hero to me.
    Finer points of history such as the date of a specific invention, which I wouldn’t know without looking up, can be finagled. I wouldn’t know and it wouldn’t spoil the story if I did know. And too any author could make an innocent error about that sort of thing. But ahistorical social attitudes yank me out of the story and invalidate the book for me. As does language that is *too* modern.
    Preaching to the choir (of authors) here, I know.

    Reply
  74. I can allow a historical author a lot of leeway to make up things of conversation, daily life, habits, dress, circumstances, surroundings and all that IF she doesn’t contravene something that I think of as an established fact. She’s welcome to use her imagination but she can’t go against commonly accepted historical fact, unless she can make a darn good case that she’s right and the historians are wrong – which would certainly bring the story to an abrupt halt while the reader wades through a infodump.
    It’s a fine line, I guess.
    Mostly what annoys me are 21st century sexual attitudes foisted onto 18th and 19th century characters. Women were much afraid of losing their reputations, yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook. No, it could mean being shunned and cast out – no money, no friends, no home that would admit you, permanent exile, or descent into the halfworld of prostitution, life on the streets, early death – for the woman and her child, if one resulted, as well. It didn’t happen in all cases, of course, but it was a real risk and a real fear for many. Deliberately ignoring it makes me think the heroine is a total airhead, and who wants to identify with a total airhead? And the man who would expose his woman to such danger is no hero to me.
    Finer points of history such as the date of a specific invention, which I wouldn’t know without looking up, can be finagled. I wouldn’t know and it wouldn’t spoil the story if I did know. And too any author could make an innocent error about that sort of thing. But ahistorical social attitudes yank me out of the story and invalidate the book for me. As does language that is *too* modern.
    Preaching to the choir (of authors) here, I know.

    Reply
  75. I can allow a historical author a lot of leeway to make up things of conversation, daily life, habits, dress, circumstances, surroundings and all that IF she doesn’t contravene something that I think of as an established fact. She’s welcome to use her imagination but she can’t go against commonly accepted historical fact, unless she can make a darn good case that she’s right and the historians are wrong – which would certainly bring the story to an abrupt halt while the reader wades through a infodump.
    It’s a fine line, I guess.
    Mostly what annoys me are 21st century sexual attitudes foisted onto 18th and 19th century characters. Women were much afraid of losing their reputations, yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook. No, it could mean being shunned and cast out – no money, no friends, no home that would admit you, permanent exile, or descent into the halfworld of prostitution, life on the streets, early death – for the woman and her child, if one resulted, as well. It didn’t happen in all cases, of course, but it was a real risk and a real fear for many. Deliberately ignoring it makes me think the heroine is a total airhead, and who wants to identify with a total airhead? And the man who would expose his woman to such danger is no hero to me.
    Finer points of history such as the date of a specific invention, which I wouldn’t know without looking up, can be finagled. I wouldn’t know and it wouldn’t spoil the story if I did know. And too any author could make an innocent error about that sort of thing. But ahistorical social attitudes yank me out of the story and invalidate the book for me. As does language that is *too* modern.
    Preaching to the choir (of authors) here, I know.

    Reply
  76. Excellent point, Janice. I completely agree with you about the sexual mores —and I loved this bit: “yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook.” LOL
    But it’s something I struggle with as an author. I’m very aware of the real life consequences for women — even the rich ones would find themselves completely ostracized if they were known to have had a child out of wedlock.
    Yet readers and publishers want sexy books. For the most part I’ve dealt with this by writing marriage of convenience stories, but you can’t write them forever. Well, I can’t.

    Reply
  77. Excellent point, Janice. I completely agree with you about the sexual mores —and I loved this bit: “yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook.” LOL
    But it’s something I struggle with as an author. I’m very aware of the real life consequences for women — even the rich ones would find themselves completely ostracized if they were known to have had a child out of wedlock.
    Yet readers and publishers want sexy books. For the most part I’ve dealt with this by writing marriage of convenience stories, but you can’t write them forever. Well, I can’t.

    Reply
  78. Excellent point, Janice. I completely agree with you about the sexual mores —and I loved this bit: “yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook.” LOL
    But it’s something I struggle with as an author. I’m very aware of the real life consequences for women — even the rich ones would find themselves completely ostracized if they were known to have had a child out of wedlock.
    Yet readers and publishers want sexy books. For the most part I’ve dealt with this by writing marriage of convenience stories, but you can’t write them forever. Well, I can’t.

    Reply
  79. Excellent point, Janice. I completely agree with you about the sexual mores —and I loved this bit: “yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook.” LOL
    But it’s something I struggle with as an author. I’m very aware of the real life consequences for women — even the rich ones would find themselves completely ostracized if they were known to have had a child out of wedlock.
    Yet readers and publishers want sexy books. For the most part I’ve dealt with this by writing marriage of convenience stories, but you can’t write them forever. Well, I can’t.

    Reply
  80. Excellent point, Janice. I completely agree with you about the sexual mores —and I loved this bit: “yet some authors fling ‘ruin’ around like it was the equivalent of being unfriended on Facebook.” LOL
    But it’s something I struggle with as an author. I’m very aware of the real life consequences for women — even the rich ones would find themselves completely ostracized if they were known to have had a child out of wedlock.
    Yet readers and publishers want sexy books. For the most part I’ve dealt with this by writing marriage of convenience stories, but you can’t write them forever. Well, I can’t.

    Reply
  81. I want the wrapping paper and the interior packing tissue to be close to accurate, but I want the gift inside to be written in such a way that I don’t care if something doesn’t quite jive with the ‘facts.’ Does that even make sense? I want characters I can love, identify in some way with, cry and rejoice with and in the end, be happy that they have a satisfying ending to the story.
    I write historical paranormal. I’ve run the gamut from critiques and contest comments that tell me the Hn wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be interested in anything slightly scientific or have any desire to run her own household (those women who managed to commit extraordinary accomplishments must be figments, I guess) to those who wanted to know, in another story, why it didn’t only take a day to get from London to Gretna Green and both are set in the early 1800’s. I meticulously researched that one, drawing a map and plotting the whole thing out based on how many horses per what kind of carriage. Yes, I was a bit anal about it, but I wanted to get it right.
    I understand critique partners and judges are supposed to be helping, but quite often, I’ve found they’re rewriting the story the way *they* would do it and that doesn’t help me at all. And I think that there are readers out there who do the same thing. The ones who complain and nitpick the historical aspects as far as place, custom, attitude, etc are not the audience I think most historical authors want. Those readers almost need to just stick to history books (which also aren’t always so accurate!) But I digress…
    All I can do is roll my eyes and hope the reader loves my characters enough to not question every single little thing in the story. If most readers are doing that, I need to reassess my characters and to heck with the wrapping paper and tissue!

    Reply
  82. I want the wrapping paper and the interior packing tissue to be close to accurate, but I want the gift inside to be written in such a way that I don’t care if something doesn’t quite jive with the ‘facts.’ Does that even make sense? I want characters I can love, identify in some way with, cry and rejoice with and in the end, be happy that they have a satisfying ending to the story.
    I write historical paranormal. I’ve run the gamut from critiques and contest comments that tell me the Hn wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be interested in anything slightly scientific or have any desire to run her own household (those women who managed to commit extraordinary accomplishments must be figments, I guess) to those who wanted to know, in another story, why it didn’t only take a day to get from London to Gretna Green and both are set in the early 1800’s. I meticulously researched that one, drawing a map and plotting the whole thing out based on how many horses per what kind of carriage. Yes, I was a bit anal about it, but I wanted to get it right.
    I understand critique partners and judges are supposed to be helping, but quite often, I’ve found they’re rewriting the story the way *they* would do it and that doesn’t help me at all. And I think that there are readers out there who do the same thing. The ones who complain and nitpick the historical aspects as far as place, custom, attitude, etc are not the audience I think most historical authors want. Those readers almost need to just stick to history books (which also aren’t always so accurate!) But I digress…
    All I can do is roll my eyes and hope the reader loves my characters enough to not question every single little thing in the story. If most readers are doing that, I need to reassess my characters and to heck with the wrapping paper and tissue!

    Reply
  83. I want the wrapping paper and the interior packing tissue to be close to accurate, but I want the gift inside to be written in such a way that I don’t care if something doesn’t quite jive with the ‘facts.’ Does that even make sense? I want characters I can love, identify in some way with, cry and rejoice with and in the end, be happy that they have a satisfying ending to the story.
    I write historical paranormal. I’ve run the gamut from critiques and contest comments that tell me the Hn wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be interested in anything slightly scientific or have any desire to run her own household (those women who managed to commit extraordinary accomplishments must be figments, I guess) to those who wanted to know, in another story, why it didn’t only take a day to get from London to Gretna Green and both are set in the early 1800’s. I meticulously researched that one, drawing a map and plotting the whole thing out based on how many horses per what kind of carriage. Yes, I was a bit anal about it, but I wanted to get it right.
    I understand critique partners and judges are supposed to be helping, but quite often, I’ve found they’re rewriting the story the way *they* would do it and that doesn’t help me at all. And I think that there are readers out there who do the same thing. The ones who complain and nitpick the historical aspects as far as place, custom, attitude, etc are not the audience I think most historical authors want. Those readers almost need to just stick to history books (which also aren’t always so accurate!) But I digress…
    All I can do is roll my eyes and hope the reader loves my characters enough to not question every single little thing in the story. If most readers are doing that, I need to reassess my characters and to heck with the wrapping paper and tissue!

    Reply
  84. I want the wrapping paper and the interior packing tissue to be close to accurate, but I want the gift inside to be written in such a way that I don’t care if something doesn’t quite jive with the ‘facts.’ Does that even make sense? I want characters I can love, identify in some way with, cry and rejoice with and in the end, be happy that they have a satisfying ending to the story.
    I write historical paranormal. I’ve run the gamut from critiques and contest comments that tell me the Hn wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be interested in anything slightly scientific or have any desire to run her own household (those women who managed to commit extraordinary accomplishments must be figments, I guess) to those who wanted to know, in another story, why it didn’t only take a day to get from London to Gretna Green and both are set in the early 1800’s. I meticulously researched that one, drawing a map and plotting the whole thing out based on how many horses per what kind of carriage. Yes, I was a bit anal about it, but I wanted to get it right.
    I understand critique partners and judges are supposed to be helping, but quite often, I’ve found they’re rewriting the story the way *they* would do it and that doesn’t help me at all. And I think that there are readers out there who do the same thing. The ones who complain and nitpick the historical aspects as far as place, custom, attitude, etc are not the audience I think most historical authors want. Those readers almost need to just stick to history books (which also aren’t always so accurate!) But I digress…
    All I can do is roll my eyes and hope the reader loves my characters enough to not question every single little thing in the story. If most readers are doing that, I need to reassess my characters and to heck with the wrapping paper and tissue!

    Reply
  85. I want the wrapping paper and the interior packing tissue to be close to accurate, but I want the gift inside to be written in such a way that I don’t care if something doesn’t quite jive with the ‘facts.’ Does that even make sense? I want characters I can love, identify in some way with, cry and rejoice with and in the end, be happy that they have a satisfying ending to the story.
    I write historical paranormal. I’ve run the gamut from critiques and contest comments that tell me the Hn wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be interested in anything slightly scientific or have any desire to run her own household (those women who managed to commit extraordinary accomplishments must be figments, I guess) to those who wanted to know, in another story, why it didn’t only take a day to get from London to Gretna Green and both are set in the early 1800’s. I meticulously researched that one, drawing a map and plotting the whole thing out based on how many horses per what kind of carriage. Yes, I was a bit anal about it, but I wanted to get it right.
    I understand critique partners and judges are supposed to be helping, but quite often, I’ve found they’re rewriting the story the way *they* would do it and that doesn’t help me at all. And I think that there are readers out there who do the same thing. The ones who complain and nitpick the historical aspects as far as place, custom, attitude, etc are not the audience I think most historical authors want. Those readers almost need to just stick to history books (which also aren’t always so accurate!) But I digress…
    All I can do is roll my eyes and hope the reader loves my characters enough to not question every single little thing in the story. If most readers are doing that, I need to reassess my characters and to heck with the wrapping paper and tissue!

    Reply
  86. Theo, I think you’ve hit on an excellent point — readers often think they know “the history” — and if an author contradicts that, even if the author has reams of historical evidence, it doesn’t matter. And hey, of course it only takes a day to get to Gretna — I drove there once. And it’s only 6 inches on the map. LOL.
    But I agree, if I love the characters and care about what happens to them, I don’t mind straying off the historical pathway too much.
    But as for “The ones who complain and nitpick . . . snip . . . are not the audience I think most historical authors want.” I’m afraid I have to confess that we want ALL readers, even the nitpickiest. 🙂

    Reply
  87. Theo, I think you’ve hit on an excellent point — readers often think they know “the history” — and if an author contradicts that, even if the author has reams of historical evidence, it doesn’t matter. And hey, of course it only takes a day to get to Gretna — I drove there once. And it’s only 6 inches on the map. LOL.
    But I agree, if I love the characters and care about what happens to them, I don’t mind straying off the historical pathway too much.
    But as for “The ones who complain and nitpick . . . snip . . . are not the audience I think most historical authors want.” I’m afraid I have to confess that we want ALL readers, even the nitpickiest. 🙂

    Reply
  88. Theo, I think you’ve hit on an excellent point — readers often think they know “the history” — and if an author contradicts that, even if the author has reams of historical evidence, it doesn’t matter. And hey, of course it only takes a day to get to Gretna — I drove there once. And it’s only 6 inches on the map. LOL.
    But I agree, if I love the characters and care about what happens to them, I don’t mind straying off the historical pathway too much.
    But as for “The ones who complain and nitpick . . . snip . . . are not the audience I think most historical authors want.” I’m afraid I have to confess that we want ALL readers, even the nitpickiest. 🙂

    Reply
  89. Theo, I think you’ve hit on an excellent point — readers often think they know “the history” — and if an author contradicts that, even if the author has reams of historical evidence, it doesn’t matter. And hey, of course it only takes a day to get to Gretna — I drove there once. And it’s only 6 inches on the map. LOL.
    But I agree, if I love the characters and care about what happens to them, I don’t mind straying off the historical pathway too much.
    But as for “The ones who complain and nitpick . . . snip . . . are not the audience I think most historical authors want.” I’m afraid I have to confess that we want ALL readers, even the nitpickiest. 🙂

    Reply
  90. Theo, I think you’ve hit on an excellent point — readers often think they know “the history” — and if an author contradicts that, even if the author has reams of historical evidence, it doesn’t matter. And hey, of course it only takes a day to get to Gretna — I drove there once. And it’s only 6 inches on the map. LOL.
    But I agree, if I love the characters and care about what happens to them, I don’t mind straying off the historical pathway too much.
    But as for “The ones who complain and nitpick . . . snip . . . are not the audience I think most historical authors want.” I’m afraid I have to confess that we want ALL readers, even the nitpickiest. 🙂

    Reply
  91. Let me rephrase that because you’re right of course, we want all readers, regardless. But we can’t *write* to all readers meaning, we can’t please everyone. We’re going to have the reader who thinks they’re the authority and everything we’ve written is inaccurate, to the reader who skips any kind of description and concentrates on the conversations. In the end, all we can do is write the best book we can. Because if we try to write to everyone, we lose ourselves and our voice in the process.

    Reply
  92. Let me rephrase that because you’re right of course, we want all readers, regardless. But we can’t *write* to all readers meaning, we can’t please everyone. We’re going to have the reader who thinks they’re the authority and everything we’ve written is inaccurate, to the reader who skips any kind of description and concentrates on the conversations. In the end, all we can do is write the best book we can. Because if we try to write to everyone, we lose ourselves and our voice in the process.

    Reply
  93. Let me rephrase that because you’re right of course, we want all readers, regardless. But we can’t *write* to all readers meaning, we can’t please everyone. We’re going to have the reader who thinks they’re the authority and everything we’ve written is inaccurate, to the reader who skips any kind of description and concentrates on the conversations. In the end, all we can do is write the best book we can. Because if we try to write to everyone, we lose ourselves and our voice in the process.

    Reply
  94. Let me rephrase that because you’re right of course, we want all readers, regardless. But we can’t *write* to all readers meaning, we can’t please everyone. We’re going to have the reader who thinks they’re the authority and everything we’ve written is inaccurate, to the reader who skips any kind of description and concentrates on the conversations. In the end, all we can do is write the best book we can. Because if we try to write to everyone, we lose ourselves and our voice in the process.

    Reply
  95. Let me rephrase that because you’re right of course, we want all readers, regardless. But we can’t *write* to all readers meaning, we can’t please everyone. We’re going to have the reader who thinks they’re the authority and everything we’ve written is inaccurate, to the reader who skips any kind of description and concentrates on the conversations. In the end, all we can do is write the best book we can. Because if we try to write to everyone, we lose ourselves and our voice in the process.

    Reply
  96. I was slightly tongue in cheek about wanting all readers, (wordwenches—taking over the worrrrrld, hahahaha!) but yes, I completely agree — in the end, we just have to tell the best story we can in the best way we can and hope readers like it.
    Actually I often tell people to take critique groups and competitions with more than a grain of salt — that what can happen, if you’re not careful, and are too willing to please others, is that the most interesting aspects of your unique author voice could be “polished” away. Yet an author’s unique voice is their best selling point. For instance our own Joanna Bourne has a very individual way of putting words on the page, and I could easily imagine some well-meaning not-very-clever crit partner telling her she need to write more conventionally, with more ordinary phrasing or she’d never get published. So wrong.

    Reply
  97. I was slightly tongue in cheek about wanting all readers, (wordwenches—taking over the worrrrrld, hahahaha!) but yes, I completely agree — in the end, we just have to tell the best story we can in the best way we can and hope readers like it.
    Actually I often tell people to take critique groups and competitions with more than a grain of salt — that what can happen, if you’re not careful, and are too willing to please others, is that the most interesting aspects of your unique author voice could be “polished” away. Yet an author’s unique voice is their best selling point. For instance our own Joanna Bourne has a very individual way of putting words on the page, and I could easily imagine some well-meaning not-very-clever crit partner telling her she need to write more conventionally, with more ordinary phrasing or she’d never get published. So wrong.

    Reply
  98. I was slightly tongue in cheek about wanting all readers, (wordwenches—taking over the worrrrrld, hahahaha!) but yes, I completely agree — in the end, we just have to tell the best story we can in the best way we can and hope readers like it.
    Actually I often tell people to take critique groups and competitions with more than a grain of salt — that what can happen, if you’re not careful, and are too willing to please others, is that the most interesting aspects of your unique author voice could be “polished” away. Yet an author’s unique voice is their best selling point. For instance our own Joanna Bourne has a very individual way of putting words on the page, and I could easily imagine some well-meaning not-very-clever crit partner telling her she need to write more conventionally, with more ordinary phrasing or she’d never get published. So wrong.

    Reply
  99. I was slightly tongue in cheek about wanting all readers, (wordwenches—taking over the worrrrrld, hahahaha!) but yes, I completely agree — in the end, we just have to tell the best story we can in the best way we can and hope readers like it.
    Actually I often tell people to take critique groups and competitions with more than a grain of salt — that what can happen, if you’re not careful, and are too willing to please others, is that the most interesting aspects of your unique author voice could be “polished” away. Yet an author’s unique voice is their best selling point. For instance our own Joanna Bourne has a very individual way of putting words on the page, and I could easily imagine some well-meaning not-very-clever crit partner telling her she need to write more conventionally, with more ordinary phrasing or she’d never get published. So wrong.

    Reply
  100. I was slightly tongue in cheek about wanting all readers, (wordwenches—taking over the worrrrrld, hahahaha!) but yes, I completely agree — in the end, we just have to tell the best story we can in the best way we can and hope readers like it.
    Actually I often tell people to take critique groups and competitions with more than a grain of salt — that what can happen, if you’re not careful, and are too willing to please others, is that the most interesting aspects of your unique author voice could be “polished” away. Yet an author’s unique voice is their best selling point. For instance our own Joanna Bourne has a very individual way of putting words on the page, and I could easily imagine some well-meaning not-very-clever crit partner telling her she need to write more conventionally, with more ordinary phrasing or she’d never get published. So wrong.

    Reply
  101. You posted all the reasons I read historical romance. I suppose the best example of a book I enjoy written by a dearly loved author is An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer clearly an example of good historical fact and research. Then I also have to pull in Mary Balogh with her series of Bedwyns, all excellent reads. But, I read a lot of historical romance. Light- hearted tales are going to be much more prolific and that is fine by me. I just want to be entertained with a story. Really I would like to have the chance to get to know the characters. I do not enjoy handsome, beautiful couples who bounce around in a coach, garden, parlor, gaming rooms, Unless, I have a invested interest in them. In otherwords, if I want to read porn I can do so…elsewhere Not in my historical fiction Regency Style. Give me a description of an enjoyable love scene and I’m fine with it as long as I have a Story. Titillate, enthrall, give me the tapestry of the scene make me disappear into the Historical World. I laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters and I won’t be satisfied with less. So saying all this, I have over 600 books loaded on a few reading programs..And only about 4 I couldn’t finish or enjoy. Not listing those Someone else is enjoying them and thats fine with me. Thank you for the opportunity to add to the discussion. I’m a Reader not a Writer difficult for me to get my points accross.

    Reply
  102. You posted all the reasons I read historical romance. I suppose the best example of a book I enjoy written by a dearly loved author is An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer clearly an example of good historical fact and research. Then I also have to pull in Mary Balogh with her series of Bedwyns, all excellent reads. But, I read a lot of historical romance. Light- hearted tales are going to be much more prolific and that is fine by me. I just want to be entertained with a story. Really I would like to have the chance to get to know the characters. I do not enjoy handsome, beautiful couples who bounce around in a coach, garden, parlor, gaming rooms, Unless, I have a invested interest in them. In otherwords, if I want to read porn I can do so…elsewhere Not in my historical fiction Regency Style. Give me a description of an enjoyable love scene and I’m fine with it as long as I have a Story. Titillate, enthrall, give me the tapestry of the scene make me disappear into the Historical World. I laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters and I won’t be satisfied with less. So saying all this, I have over 600 books loaded on a few reading programs..And only about 4 I couldn’t finish or enjoy. Not listing those Someone else is enjoying them and thats fine with me. Thank you for the opportunity to add to the discussion. I’m a Reader not a Writer difficult for me to get my points accross.

    Reply
  103. You posted all the reasons I read historical romance. I suppose the best example of a book I enjoy written by a dearly loved author is An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer clearly an example of good historical fact and research. Then I also have to pull in Mary Balogh with her series of Bedwyns, all excellent reads. But, I read a lot of historical romance. Light- hearted tales are going to be much more prolific and that is fine by me. I just want to be entertained with a story. Really I would like to have the chance to get to know the characters. I do not enjoy handsome, beautiful couples who bounce around in a coach, garden, parlor, gaming rooms, Unless, I have a invested interest in them. In otherwords, if I want to read porn I can do so…elsewhere Not in my historical fiction Regency Style. Give me a description of an enjoyable love scene and I’m fine with it as long as I have a Story. Titillate, enthrall, give me the tapestry of the scene make me disappear into the Historical World. I laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters and I won’t be satisfied with less. So saying all this, I have over 600 books loaded on a few reading programs..And only about 4 I couldn’t finish or enjoy. Not listing those Someone else is enjoying them and thats fine with me. Thank you for the opportunity to add to the discussion. I’m a Reader not a Writer difficult for me to get my points accross.

    Reply
  104. You posted all the reasons I read historical romance. I suppose the best example of a book I enjoy written by a dearly loved author is An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer clearly an example of good historical fact and research. Then I also have to pull in Mary Balogh with her series of Bedwyns, all excellent reads. But, I read a lot of historical romance. Light- hearted tales are going to be much more prolific and that is fine by me. I just want to be entertained with a story. Really I would like to have the chance to get to know the characters. I do not enjoy handsome, beautiful couples who bounce around in a coach, garden, parlor, gaming rooms, Unless, I have a invested interest in them. In otherwords, if I want to read porn I can do so…elsewhere Not in my historical fiction Regency Style. Give me a description of an enjoyable love scene and I’m fine with it as long as I have a Story. Titillate, enthrall, give me the tapestry of the scene make me disappear into the Historical World. I laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters and I won’t be satisfied with less. So saying all this, I have over 600 books loaded on a few reading programs..And only about 4 I couldn’t finish or enjoy. Not listing those Someone else is enjoying them and thats fine with me. Thank you for the opportunity to add to the discussion. I’m a Reader not a Writer difficult for me to get my points accross.

    Reply
  105. You posted all the reasons I read historical romance. I suppose the best example of a book I enjoy written by a dearly loved author is An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer clearly an example of good historical fact and research. Then I also have to pull in Mary Balogh with her series of Bedwyns, all excellent reads. But, I read a lot of historical romance. Light- hearted tales are going to be much more prolific and that is fine by me. I just want to be entertained with a story. Really I would like to have the chance to get to know the characters. I do not enjoy handsome, beautiful couples who bounce around in a coach, garden, parlor, gaming rooms, Unless, I have a invested interest in them. In otherwords, if I want to read porn I can do so…elsewhere Not in my historical fiction Regency Style. Give me a description of an enjoyable love scene and I’m fine with it as long as I have a Story. Titillate, enthrall, give me the tapestry of the scene make me disappear into the Historical World. I laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters and I won’t be satisfied with less. So saying all this, I have over 600 books loaded on a few reading programs..And only about 4 I couldn’t finish or enjoy. Not listing those Someone else is enjoying them and thats fine with me. Thank you for the opportunity to add to the discussion. I’m a Reader not a Writer difficult for me to get my points accross.

    Reply
  106. As long as there aren’t blatant historical inaccuracies, I’m usually fine with a book. I would like there to be enough historical detail that I can tell when the story is taking place, though, as well as capturing the “feel” of a time period. Georgians that read like Regencies are, alas, all too common.
    For me, it’s the little details that annoy rather than the big picture. One thing that absolutely drives me crazy is title misuse. Titles really aren’t that hard, and yet they get mangled quite often. It’s such a simple thing, but referring to a character by the wrong title can completely pull me out of the story. (I just read a book where an earl was repeatedly referred to as “Your Grace”. No, just no!)

    Reply
  107. As long as there aren’t blatant historical inaccuracies, I’m usually fine with a book. I would like there to be enough historical detail that I can tell when the story is taking place, though, as well as capturing the “feel” of a time period. Georgians that read like Regencies are, alas, all too common.
    For me, it’s the little details that annoy rather than the big picture. One thing that absolutely drives me crazy is title misuse. Titles really aren’t that hard, and yet they get mangled quite often. It’s such a simple thing, but referring to a character by the wrong title can completely pull me out of the story. (I just read a book where an earl was repeatedly referred to as “Your Grace”. No, just no!)

    Reply
  108. As long as there aren’t blatant historical inaccuracies, I’m usually fine with a book. I would like there to be enough historical detail that I can tell when the story is taking place, though, as well as capturing the “feel” of a time period. Georgians that read like Regencies are, alas, all too common.
    For me, it’s the little details that annoy rather than the big picture. One thing that absolutely drives me crazy is title misuse. Titles really aren’t that hard, and yet they get mangled quite often. It’s such a simple thing, but referring to a character by the wrong title can completely pull me out of the story. (I just read a book where an earl was repeatedly referred to as “Your Grace”. No, just no!)

    Reply
  109. As long as there aren’t blatant historical inaccuracies, I’m usually fine with a book. I would like there to be enough historical detail that I can tell when the story is taking place, though, as well as capturing the “feel” of a time period. Georgians that read like Regencies are, alas, all too common.
    For me, it’s the little details that annoy rather than the big picture. One thing that absolutely drives me crazy is title misuse. Titles really aren’t that hard, and yet they get mangled quite often. It’s such a simple thing, but referring to a character by the wrong title can completely pull me out of the story. (I just read a book where an earl was repeatedly referred to as “Your Grace”. No, just no!)

    Reply
  110. As long as there aren’t blatant historical inaccuracies, I’m usually fine with a book. I would like there to be enough historical detail that I can tell when the story is taking place, though, as well as capturing the “feel” of a time period. Georgians that read like Regencies are, alas, all too common.
    For me, it’s the little details that annoy rather than the big picture. One thing that absolutely drives me crazy is title misuse. Titles really aren’t that hard, and yet they get mangled quite often. It’s such a simple thing, but referring to a character by the wrong title can completely pull me out of the story. (I just read a book where an earl was repeatedly referred to as “Your Grace”. No, just no!)

    Reply
  111. Always a juicy debate, Anne! You raise the two points I have learned over and over in my writing(and history)career: That all history is interpretation and that it doesn’t matter how accurate your research can be, if a reader (or reviewer!) thinks they know the facts better than you do they will probably put you right!
    I think there can definitely be a tension between what some publishers and some readers want – modern characters in Regency dress – and the real morals and mores of the times. Finding a way and a plot through that can be tricky. And I agree with Theo that you certainly can’t please all the readers all the time.
    On the other hand we know there were some trail-blazing women out there so if I can find as an example someone who travelled, or ran a business I’ll happily write a character who reflects that.
    Titles, hmm. That’s one of my bugbears too. There’s no excuse for addressing an earl as your grace. Yet I think that the finer points of titles can be quite confusing eg: Prince and Princess Michael. I went to a National Trust stately home recently and the guide consistently referred to the wife of the late owner Sir John Baronet as Lady Susan Baronet. I was almost at screaming pitch by the end of the tour yet also aware that maybe I was being a tiny tad too anal about it!

    Reply
  112. Always a juicy debate, Anne! You raise the two points I have learned over and over in my writing(and history)career: That all history is interpretation and that it doesn’t matter how accurate your research can be, if a reader (or reviewer!) thinks they know the facts better than you do they will probably put you right!
    I think there can definitely be a tension between what some publishers and some readers want – modern characters in Regency dress – and the real morals and mores of the times. Finding a way and a plot through that can be tricky. And I agree with Theo that you certainly can’t please all the readers all the time.
    On the other hand we know there were some trail-blazing women out there so if I can find as an example someone who travelled, or ran a business I’ll happily write a character who reflects that.
    Titles, hmm. That’s one of my bugbears too. There’s no excuse for addressing an earl as your grace. Yet I think that the finer points of titles can be quite confusing eg: Prince and Princess Michael. I went to a National Trust stately home recently and the guide consistently referred to the wife of the late owner Sir John Baronet as Lady Susan Baronet. I was almost at screaming pitch by the end of the tour yet also aware that maybe I was being a tiny tad too anal about it!

    Reply
  113. Always a juicy debate, Anne! You raise the two points I have learned over and over in my writing(and history)career: That all history is interpretation and that it doesn’t matter how accurate your research can be, if a reader (or reviewer!) thinks they know the facts better than you do they will probably put you right!
    I think there can definitely be a tension between what some publishers and some readers want – modern characters in Regency dress – and the real morals and mores of the times. Finding a way and a plot through that can be tricky. And I agree with Theo that you certainly can’t please all the readers all the time.
    On the other hand we know there were some trail-blazing women out there so if I can find as an example someone who travelled, or ran a business I’ll happily write a character who reflects that.
    Titles, hmm. That’s one of my bugbears too. There’s no excuse for addressing an earl as your grace. Yet I think that the finer points of titles can be quite confusing eg: Prince and Princess Michael. I went to a National Trust stately home recently and the guide consistently referred to the wife of the late owner Sir John Baronet as Lady Susan Baronet. I was almost at screaming pitch by the end of the tour yet also aware that maybe I was being a tiny tad too anal about it!

    Reply
  114. Always a juicy debate, Anne! You raise the two points I have learned over and over in my writing(and history)career: That all history is interpretation and that it doesn’t matter how accurate your research can be, if a reader (or reviewer!) thinks they know the facts better than you do they will probably put you right!
    I think there can definitely be a tension between what some publishers and some readers want – modern characters in Regency dress – and the real morals and mores of the times. Finding a way and a plot through that can be tricky. And I agree with Theo that you certainly can’t please all the readers all the time.
    On the other hand we know there were some trail-blazing women out there so if I can find as an example someone who travelled, or ran a business I’ll happily write a character who reflects that.
    Titles, hmm. That’s one of my bugbears too. There’s no excuse for addressing an earl as your grace. Yet I think that the finer points of titles can be quite confusing eg: Prince and Princess Michael. I went to a National Trust stately home recently and the guide consistently referred to the wife of the late owner Sir John Baronet as Lady Susan Baronet. I was almost at screaming pitch by the end of the tour yet also aware that maybe I was being a tiny tad too anal about it!

    Reply
  115. Always a juicy debate, Anne! You raise the two points I have learned over and over in my writing(and history)career: That all history is interpretation and that it doesn’t matter how accurate your research can be, if a reader (or reviewer!) thinks they know the facts better than you do they will probably put you right!
    I think there can definitely be a tension between what some publishers and some readers want – modern characters in Regency dress – and the real morals and mores of the times. Finding a way and a plot through that can be tricky. And I agree with Theo that you certainly can’t please all the readers all the time.
    On the other hand we know there were some trail-blazing women out there so if I can find as an example someone who travelled, or ran a business I’ll happily write a character who reflects that.
    Titles, hmm. That’s one of my bugbears too. There’s no excuse for addressing an earl as your grace. Yet I think that the finer points of titles can be quite confusing eg: Prince and Princess Michael. I went to a National Trust stately home recently and the guide consistently referred to the wife of the late owner Sir John Baronet as Lady Susan Baronet. I was almost at screaming pitch by the end of the tour yet also aware that maybe I was being a tiny tad too anal about it!

    Reply
  116. Peggy, I think you got your point across beautifully. I, too, want more than happy bonking in glamorous historical settings – for me the characters and the story matter most, and as I said, I’ll forgive a lot if the story is good.
    Heyer and Balogh are favorite authors for me. I must confess, though, in the Infamous Army I do skip a lot of the battle scenes to get back to what, for me, is the real story — the romance.

    Reply
  117. Peggy, I think you got your point across beautifully. I, too, want more than happy bonking in glamorous historical settings – for me the characters and the story matter most, and as I said, I’ll forgive a lot if the story is good.
    Heyer and Balogh are favorite authors for me. I must confess, though, in the Infamous Army I do skip a lot of the battle scenes to get back to what, for me, is the real story — the romance.

    Reply
  118. Peggy, I think you got your point across beautifully. I, too, want more than happy bonking in glamorous historical settings – for me the characters and the story matter most, and as I said, I’ll forgive a lot if the story is good.
    Heyer and Balogh are favorite authors for me. I must confess, though, in the Infamous Army I do skip a lot of the battle scenes to get back to what, for me, is the real story — the romance.

    Reply
  119. Peggy, I think you got your point across beautifully. I, too, want more than happy bonking in glamorous historical settings – for me the characters and the story matter most, and as I said, I’ll forgive a lot if the story is good.
    Heyer and Balogh are favorite authors for me. I must confess, though, in the Infamous Army I do skip a lot of the battle scenes to get back to what, for me, is the real story — the romance.

    Reply
  120. Peggy, I think you got your point across beautifully. I, too, want more than happy bonking in glamorous historical settings – for me the characters and the story matter most, and as I said, I’ll forgive a lot if the story is good.
    Heyer and Balogh are favorite authors for me. I must confess, though, in the Infamous Army I do skip a lot of the battle scenes to get back to what, for me, is the real story — the romance.

    Reply
  121. Margot I think atmosphere is important no matter which time period — with any book I read, I want to disappear into the world of the story.
    Titles can be a real bugbear, I know. I can’t believe people still get the most obvious ones wrong. That said, I’ve had several characters who are Lady Firstname when their husband is Lord Surname, because Lady Firstname was the daughter of an earl, and wanted to keep her courtesy title, as is her right. But it’s not all that common, and probably annoys some readers.

    Reply
  122. Margot I think atmosphere is important no matter which time period — with any book I read, I want to disappear into the world of the story.
    Titles can be a real bugbear, I know. I can’t believe people still get the most obvious ones wrong. That said, I’ve had several characters who are Lady Firstname when their husband is Lord Surname, because Lady Firstname was the daughter of an earl, and wanted to keep her courtesy title, as is her right. But it’s not all that common, and probably annoys some readers.

    Reply
  123. Margot I think atmosphere is important no matter which time period — with any book I read, I want to disappear into the world of the story.
    Titles can be a real bugbear, I know. I can’t believe people still get the most obvious ones wrong. That said, I’ve had several characters who are Lady Firstname when their husband is Lord Surname, because Lady Firstname was the daughter of an earl, and wanted to keep her courtesy title, as is her right. But it’s not all that common, and probably annoys some readers.

    Reply
  124. Margot I think atmosphere is important no matter which time period — with any book I read, I want to disappear into the world of the story.
    Titles can be a real bugbear, I know. I can’t believe people still get the most obvious ones wrong. That said, I’ve had several characters who are Lady Firstname when their husband is Lord Surname, because Lady Firstname was the daughter of an earl, and wanted to keep her courtesy title, as is her right. But it’s not all that common, and probably annoys some readers.

    Reply
  125. Margot I think atmosphere is important no matter which time period — with any book I read, I want to disappear into the world of the story.
    Titles can be a real bugbear, I know. I can’t believe people still get the most obvious ones wrong. That said, I’ve had several characters who are Lady Firstname when their husband is Lord Surname, because Lady Firstname was the daughter of an earl, and wanted to keep her courtesy title, as is her right. But it’s not all that common, and probably annoys some readers.

    Reply
  126. Nicola, there certainly were some amazing trail-blazing women, and I love it that so many of your books are inspired by real life incidents or people.
    i also think it’s wonderful that digital publishing is making available letters and journals from history that previously were only available in some dusty archive deep in some university or library basement. When I think of the trouble I went to to research for Tallie’s Knight, with inter-library loans from the State Library’s rare book collection, and reading it in a special reading carrell, and no photocopying, and now you can get those sources from a click on the web.
    I’m wondering whether Lady Susan Baronet was one of my earl’s daughters.

    Reply
  127. Nicola, there certainly were some amazing trail-blazing women, and I love it that so many of your books are inspired by real life incidents or people.
    i also think it’s wonderful that digital publishing is making available letters and journals from history that previously were only available in some dusty archive deep in some university or library basement. When I think of the trouble I went to to research for Tallie’s Knight, with inter-library loans from the State Library’s rare book collection, and reading it in a special reading carrell, and no photocopying, and now you can get those sources from a click on the web.
    I’m wondering whether Lady Susan Baronet was one of my earl’s daughters.

    Reply
  128. Nicola, there certainly were some amazing trail-blazing women, and I love it that so many of your books are inspired by real life incidents or people.
    i also think it’s wonderful that digital publishing is making available letters and journals from history that previously were only available in some dusty archive deep in some university or library basement. When I think of the trouble I went to to research for Tallie’s Knight, with inter-library loans from the State Library’s rare book collection, and reading it in a special reading carrell, and no photocopying, and now you can get those sources from a click on the web.
    I’m wondering whether Lady Susan Baronet was one of my earl’s daughters.

    Reply
  129. Nicola, there certainly were some amazing trail-blazing women, and I love it that so many of your books are inspired by real life incidents or people.
    i also think it’s wonderful that digital publishing is making available letters and journals from history that previously were only available in some dusty archive deep in some university or library basement. When I think of the trouble I went to to research for Tallie’s Knight, with inter-library loans from the State Library’s rare book collection, and reading it in a special reading carrell, and no photocopying, and now you can get those sources from a click on the web.
    I’m wondering whether Lady Susan Baronet was one of my earl’s daughters.

    Reply
  130. Nicola, there certainly were some amazing trail-blazing women, and I love it that so many of your books are inspired by real life incidents or people.
    i also think it’s wonderful that digital publishing is making available letters and journals from history that previously were only available in some dusty archive deep in some university or library basement. When I think of the trouble I went to to research for Tallie’s Knight, with inter-library loans from the State Library’s rare book collection, and reading it in a special reading carrell, and no photocopying, and now you can get those sources from a click on the web.
    I’m wondering whether Lady Susan Baronet was one of my earl’s daughters.

    Reply
  131. I’m in the historical accuracy camp. Little mistakes, just like small editing errors, I can let slide but I want the story to feel right or else it just jars me out of the story. Titles and sexual mores are biggies, too. And, series-itis where heroine and every female relative/ friend marries a rich hottie who worships them. Really? Personally, some secondary supporting characters with more typical relationships or without them (there were only so many financially stable men to go around, the church/life of service was important too) who are reasonably happy in their choice would also be interesting. These days it seems the previously-unhappily-married widow is a big trope. Elizabeth Bennet was a unusual, Jane was very realistic, and Charlotte very representative. And, that novel was the stronger for it.
    That Roman/Welsh documentary sounds interesting. Don’t suppose you remember the name or when it was out?

    Reply
  132. I’m in the historical accuracy camp. Little mistakes, just like small editing errors, I can let slide but I want the story to feel right or else it just jars me out of the story. Titles and sexual mores are biggies, too. And, series-itis where heroine and every female relative/ friend marries a rich hottie who worships them. Really? Personally, some secondary supporting characters with more typical relationships or without them (there were only so many financially stable men to go around, the church/life of service was important too) who are reasonably happy in their choice would also be interesting. These days it seems the previously-unhappily-married widow is a big trope. Elizabeth Bennet was a unusual, Jane was very realistic, and Charlotte very representative. And, that novel was the stronger for it.
    That Roman/Welsh documentary sounds interesting. Don’t suppose you remember the name or when it was out?

    Reply
  133. I’m in the historical accuracy camp. Little mistakes, just like small editing errors, I can let slide but I want the story to feel right or else it just jars me out of the story. Titles and sexual mores are biggies, too. And, series-itis where heroine and every female relative/ friend marries a rich hottie who worships them. Really? Personally, some secondary supporting characters with more typical relationships or without them (there were only so many financially stable men to go around, the church/life of service was important too) who are reasonably happy in their choice would also be interesting. These days it seems the previously-unhappily-married widow is a big trope. Elizabeth Bennet was a unusual, Jane was very realistic, and Charlotte very representative. And, that novel was the stronger for it.
    That Roman/Welsh documentary sounds interesting. Don’t suppose you remember the name or when it was out?

    Reply
  134. I’m in the historical accuracy camp. Little mistakes, just like small editing errors, I can let slide but I want the story to feel right or else it just jars me out of the story. Titles and sexual mores are biggies, too. And, series-itis where heroine and every female relative/ friend marries a rich hottie who worships them. Really? Personally, some secondary supporting characters with more typical relationships or without them (there were only so many financially stable men to go around, the church/life of service was important too) who are reasonably happy in their choice would also be interesting. These days it seems the previously-unhappily-married widow is a big trope. Elizabeth Bennet was a unusual, Jane was very realistic, and Charlotte very representative. And, that novel was the stronger for it.
    That Roman/Welsh documentary sounds interesting. Don’t suppose you remember the name or when it was out?

    Reply
  135. I’m in the historical accuracy camp. Little mistakes, just like small editing errors, I can let slide but I want the story to feel right or else it just jars me out of the story. Titles and sexual mores are biggies, too. And, series-itis where heroine and every female relative/ friend marries a rich hottie who worships them. Really? Personally, some secondary supporting characters with more typical relationships or without them (there were only so many financially stable men to go around, the church/life of service was important too) who are reasonably happy in their choice would also be interesting. These days it seems the previously-unhappily-married widow is a big trope. Elizabeth Bennet was a unusual, Jane was very realistic, and Charlotte very representative. And, that novel was the stronger for it.
    That Roman/Welsh documentary sounds interesting. Don’t suppose you remember the name or when it was out?

    Reply
  136. Dee, you inspired me to go searching the internet to see if I could find any reference to the program — it was 20 years ago I saw it. And I think I’ve found it — I’m pretty sure it was called The Dragon Has Two Tongues and it was a 13 part BBC Wales documentary. The two commentators were Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and Gwyn Williams. In my blog I was only talking about one episode — Roman Wales — and I can’t find that particular episode, but here’s the first episode of the series:
    http://tinyurl.com/bqkdons

    Reply
  137. Dee, you inspired me to go searching the internet to see if I could find any reference to the program — it was 20 years ago I saw it. And I think I’ve found it — I’m pretty sure it was called The Dragon Has Two Tongues and it was a 13 part BBC Wales documentary. The two commentators were Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and Gwyn Williams. In my blog I was only talking about one episode — Roman Wales — and I can’t find that particular episode, but here’s the first episode of the series:
    http://tinyurl.com/bqkdons

    Reply
  138. Dee, you inspired me to go searching the internet to see if I could find any reference to the program — it was 20 years ago I saw it. And I think I’ve found it — I’m pretty sure it was called The Dragon Has Two Tongues and it was a 13 part BBC Wales documentary. The two commentators were Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and Gwyn Williams. In my blog I was only talking about one episode — Roman Wales — and I can’t find that particular episode, but here’s the first episode of the series:
    http://tinyurl.com/bqkdons

    Reply
  139. Dee, you inspired me to go searching the internet to see if I could find any reference to the program — it was 20 years ago I saw it. And I think I’ve found it — I’m pretty sure it was called The Dragon Has Two Tongues and it was a 13 part BBC Wales documentary. The two commentators were Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and Gwyn Williams. In my blog I was only talking about one episode — Roman Wales — and I can’t find that particular episode, but here’s the first episode of the series:
    http://tinyurl.com/bqkdons

    Reply
  140. Dee, you inspired me to go searching the internet to see if I could find any reference to the program — it was 20 years ago I saw it. And I think I’ve found it — I’m pretty sure it was called The Dragon Has Two Tongues and it was a 13 part BBC Wales documentary. The two commentators were Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and Gwyn Williams. In my blog I was only talking about one episode — Roman Wales — and I can’t find that particular episode, but here’s the first episode of the series:
    http://tinyurl.com/bqkdons

    Reply
  141. As has been said, this discussion never gets old. *G* I aim for a rousing good story within the confines of historical plausibility. I try to be accurate where I can, without getting into those areas that look really ugly to modern sensibilities. It’s a constantly moving tightrope. But fun. *g*

    Reply
  142. As has been said, this discussion never gets old. *G* I aim for a rousing good story within the confines of historical plausibility. I try to be accurate where I can, without getting into those areas that look really ugly to modern sensibilities. It’s a constantly moving tightrope. But fun. *g*

    Reply
  143. As has been said, this discussion never gets old. *G* I aim for a rousing good story within the confines of historical plausibility. I try to be accurate where I can, without getting into those areas that look really ugly to modern sensibilities. It’s a constantly moving tightrope. But fun. *g*

    Reply
  144. As has been said, this discussion never gets old. *G* I aim for a rousing good story within the confines of historical plausibility. I try to be accurate where I can, without getting into those areas that look really ugly to modern sensibilities. It’s a constantly moving tightrope. But fun. *g*

    Reply
  145. As has been said, this discussion never gets old. *G* I aim for a rousing good story within the confines of historical plausibility. I try to be accurate where I can, without getting into those areas that look really ugly to modern sensibilities. It’s a constantly moving tightrope. But fun. *g*

    Reply
  146. I love little historical tidbits in my books. One story I read was nothing but facts that I found very distracting. I’ll never buy that author again.

    Reply
  147. I love little historical tidbits in my books. One story I read was nothing but facts that I found very distracting. I’ll never buy that author again.

    Reply
  148. I love little historical tidbits in my books. One story I read was nothing but facts that I found very distracting. I’ll never buy that author again.

    Reply
  149. I love little historical tidbits in my books. One story I read was nothing but facts that I found very distracting. I’ll never buy that author again.

    Reply
  150. I love little historical tidbits in my books. One story I read was nothing but facts that I found very distracting. I’ll never buy that author again.

    Reply
  151. Lady Susan Baronet definitely wasn’t an earl of a duke’s daughter, Anne. I checked that out before I started to do my “anal about titles” thing! I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust
    However I do have some sympathy with people getting it wrong simply because I think things like courtesy titles and the wives of the younger sons of peers being called Lady Peter Manners rather than Lady Susan Manners is very tricky!

    Reply
  152. Lady Susan Baronet definitely wasn’t an earl of a duke’s daughter, Anne. I checked that out before I started to do my “anal about titles” thing! I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust
    However I do have some sympathy with people getting it wrong simply because I think things like courtesy titles and the wives of the younger sons of peers being called Lady Peter Manners rather than Lady Susan Manners is very tricky!

    Reply
  153. Lady Susan Baronet definitely wasn’t an earl of a duke’s daughter, Anne. I checked that out before I started to do my “anal about titles” thing! I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust
    However I do have some sympathy with people getting it wrong simply because I think things like courtesy titles and the wives of the younger sons of peers being called Lady Peter Manners rather than Lady Susan Manners is very tricky!

    Reply
  154. Lady Susan Baronet definitely wasn’t an earl of a duke’s daughter, Anne. I checked that out before I started to do my “anal about titles” thing! I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust
    However I do have some sympathy with people getting it wrong simply because I think things like courtesy titles and the wives of the younger sons of peers being called Lady Peter Manners rather than Lady Susan Manners is very tricky!

    Reply
  155. Lady Susan Baronet definitely wasn’t an earl of a duke’s daughter, Anne. I checked that out before I started to do my “anal about titles” thing! I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust
    However I do have some sympathy with people getting it wrong simply because I think things like courtesy titles and the wives of the younger sons of peers being called Lady Peter Manners rather than Lady Susan Manners is very tricky!

    Reply
  156. Anne, I want some real history in my historical romance, not a costume drama. If I want all contemporary attitudes, I’ll read a contemporary. Many will disagree with me. Well, they can read the costume dramas.
    But the main characters shouldn’t be just a leading man and leading lady. They should be a hero and heroine, which makes them better than the everyday person on the street. As such, they should have some enlightened attitudes, especially as regards the roles and status of women. A lot of historicals fail in that regard. I think the really nasty attitudes should go to the villains.
    And I like some period language. Not all period phrasing and words make the text impossible to read. “Is something amiss?” instead of “What’s wrong?” is perfectly understandable. And if the reader comes across a word or two she doesn’t understand, she can use the dictionary. I do, and I learn something, too.

    Reply
  157. Anne, I want some real history in my historical romance, not a costume drama. If I want all contemporary attitudes, I’ll read a contemporary. Many will disagree with me. Well, they can read the costume dramas.
    But the main characters shouldn’t be just a leading man and leading lady. They should be a hero and heroine, which makes them better than the everyday person on the street. As such, they should have some enlightened attitudes, especially as regards the roles and status of women. A lot of historicals fail in that regard. I think the really nasty attitudes should go to the villains.
    And I like some period language. Not all period phrasing and words make the text impossible to read. “Is something amiss?” instead of “What’s wrong?” is perfectly understandable. And if the reader comes across a word or two she doesn’t understand, she can use the dictionary. I do, and I learn something, too.

    Reply
  158. Anne, I want some real history in my historical romance, not a costume drama. If I want all contemporary attitudes, I’ll read a contemporary. Many will disagree with me. Well, they can read the costume dramas.
    But the main characters shouldn’t be just a leading man and leading lady. They should be a hero and heroine, which makes them better than the everyday person on the street. As such, they should have some enlightened attitudes, especially as regards the roles and status of women. A lot of historicals fail in that regard. I think the really nasty attitudes should go to the villains.
    And I like some period language. Not all period phrasing and words make the text impossible to read. “Is something amiss?” instead of “What’s wrong?” is perfectly understandable. And if the reader comes across a word or two she doesn’t understand, she can use the dictionary. I do, and I learn something, too.

    Reply
  159. Anne, I want some real history in my historical romance, not a costume drama. If I want all contemporary attitudes, I’ll read a contemporary. Many will disagree with me. Well, they can read the costume dramas.
    But the main characters shouldn’t be just a leading man and leading lady. They should be a hero and heroine, which makes them better than the everyday person on the street. As such, they should have some enlightened attitudes, especially as regards the roles and status of women. A lot of historicals fail in that regard. I think the really nasty attitudes should go to the villains.
    And I like some period language. Not all period phrasing and words make the text impossible to read. “Is something amiss?” instead of “What’s wrong?” is perfectly understandable. And if the reader comes across a word or two she doesn’t understand, she can use the dictionary. I do, and I learn something, too.

    Reply
  160. Anne, I want some real history in my historical romance, not a costume drama. If I want all contemporary attitudes, I’ll read a contemporary. Many will disagree with me. Well, they can read the costume dramas.
    But the main characters shouldn’t be just a leading man and leading lady. They should be a hero and heroine, which makes them better than the everyday person on the street. As such, they should have some enlightened attitudes, especially as regards the roles and status of women. A lot of historicals fail in that regard. I think the really nasty attitudes should go to the villains.
    And I like some period language. Not all period phrasing and words make the text impossible to read. “Is something amiss?” instead of “What’s wrong?” is perfectly understandable. And if the reader comes across a word or two she doesn’t understand, she can use the dictionary. I do, and I learn something, too.

    Reply
  161. “I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust”
    Nicola, I quite agree. I’ve always found NT guides wonderfully knowledgable, so I understand your frustration — especially since as a guide yourself, as well as a writer, you put so much work into getting it right.

    Reply
  162. “I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust”
    Nicola, I quite agree. I’ve always found NT guides wonderfully knowledgable, so I understand your frustration — especially since as a guide yourself, as well as a writer, you put so much work into getting it right.

    Reply
  163. “I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust”
    Nicola, I quite agree. I’ve always found NT guides wonderfully knowledgable, so I understand your frustration — especially since as a guide yourself, as well as a writer, you put so much work into getting it right.

    Reply
  164. “I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust”
    Nicola, I quite agree. I’ve always found NT guides wonderfully knowledgable, so I understand your frustration — especially since as a guide yourself, as well as a writer, you put so much work into getting it right.

    Reply
  165. “I felt that a NT guide should have got that right because if you can’t trust them who can you trust”
    Nicola, I quite agree. I’ve always found NT guides wonderfully knowledgable, so I understand your frustration — especially since as a guide yourself, as well as a writer, you put so much work into getting it right.

    Reply
  166. LilMissMolly, that sounds like an odd sort of novel — studded with facts. I can see how it could be quite disconcerting. I want a story.
    Linda, I’m so glad there are people around who do love a good amount of history in their novels. I also like your take on a hero and heroine being that little bit more enlightened, and leaving the bad attitudes to the villains. I also like to throw in an occasional bit of political incorrectness (in today’s terms) through my minor characters.
    Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    Reply
  167. LilMissMolly, that sounds like an odd sort of novel — studded with facts. I can see how it could be quite disconcerting. I want a story.
    Linda, I’m so glad there are people around who do love a good amount of history in their novels. I also like your take on a hero and heroine being that little bit more enlightened, and leaving the bad attitudes to the villains. I also like to throw in an occasional bit of political incorrectness (in today’s terms) through my minor characters.
    Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    Reply
  168. LilMissMolly, that sounds like an odd sort of novel — studded with facts. I can see how it could be quite disconcerting. I want a story.
    Linda, I’m so glad there are people around who do love a good amount of history in their novels. I also like your take on a hero and heroine being that little bit more enlightened, and leaving the bad attitudes to the villains. I also like to throw in an occasional bit of political incorrectness (in today’s terms) through my minor characters.
    Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    Reply
  169. LilMissMolly, that sounds like an odd sort of novel — studded with facts. I can see how it could be quite disconcerting. I want a story.
    Linda, I’m so glad there are people around who do love a good amount of history in their novels. I also like your take on a hero and heroine being that little bit more enlightened, and leaving the bad attitudes to the villains. I also like to throw in an occasional bit of political incorrectness (in today’s terms) through my minor characters.
    Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    Reply
  170. LilMissMolly, that sounds like an odd sort of novel — studded with facts. I can see how it could be quite disconcerting. I want a story.
    Linda, I’m so glad there are people around who do love a good amount of history in their novels. I also like your take on a hero and heroine being that little bit more enlightened, and leaving the bad attitudes to the villains. I also like to throw in an occasional bit of political incorrectness (in today’s terms) through my minor characters.
    Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    Reply
  171. Even the best documentary histories are riddled with inaccuracies because, as someone famous once said, history is written by the winners. But in historical romance/mystery fiction you need to set a scene, an atmosphere: the river stank, the air was foul, and people were dirty. But when a character uses a modern slang phrase instead of a contemporary phrase, it’s a turnoff and the editor should have caught it. I was on a Heyer website and they had decided Georgette was anti-Semitic because of a character in one of the books. I don’t know if she was and don’t care, but don’t judge an author by a character just because you think it is a stereotype. At that place and time the stereotype was as true as all enlightened doctors being Scottish. Which brings me back to words and phrasing. Excessive use of any dialect gets in the reader’s way. An author discovered that “writ” and “et” were acceptable as past tense of “write” and “eat” and used them constantly to the reader’s distraction. If it gets in the way of the plot and slows down the narrative, I don’t need to know the details. If it interests me, I go look it up.

    Reply
  172. Even the best documentary histories are riddled with inaccuracies because, as someone famous once said, history is written by the winners. But in historical romance/mystery fiction you need to set a scene, an atmosphere: the river stank, the air was foul, and people were dirty. But when a character uses a modern slang phrase instead of a contemporary phrase, it’s a turnoff and the editor should have caught it. I was on a Heyer website and they had decided Georgette was anti-Semitic because of a character in one of the books. I don’t know if she was and don’t care, but don’t judge an author by a character just because you think it is a stereotype. At that place and time the stereotype was as true as all enlightened doctors being Scottish. Which brings me back to words and phrasing. Excessive use of any dialect gets in the reader’s way. An author discovered that “writ” and “et” were acceptable as past tense of “write” and “eat” and used them constantly to the reader’s distraction. If it gets in the way of the plot and slows down the narrative, I don’t need to know the details. If it interests me, I go look it up.

    Reply
  173. Even the best documentary histories are riddled with inaccuracies because, as someone famous once said, history is written by the winners. But in historical romance/mystery fiction you need to set a scene, an atmosphere: the river stank, the air was foul, and people were dirty. But when a character uses a modern slang phrase instead of a contemporary phrase, it’s a turnoff and the editor should have caught it. I was on a Heyer website and they had decided Georgette was anti-Semitic because of a character in one of the books. I don’t know if she was and don’t care, but don’t judge an author by a character just because you think it is a stereotype. At that place and time the stereotype was as true as all enlightened doctors being Scottish. Which brings me back to words and phrasing. Excessive use of any dialect gets in the reader’s way. An author discovered that “writ” and “et” were acceptable as past tense of “write” and “eat” and used them constantly to the reader’s distraction. If it gets in the way of the plot and slows down the narrative, I don’t need to know the details. If it interests me, I go look it up.

    Reply
  174. Even the best documentary histories are riddled with inaccuracies because, as someone famous once said, history is written by the winners. But in historical romance/mystery fiction you need to set a scene, an atmosphere: the river stank, the air was foul, and people were dirty. But when a character uses a modern slang phrase instead of a contemporary phrase, it’s a turnoff and the editor should have caught it. I was on a Heyer website and they had decided Georgette was anti-Semitic because of a character in one of the books. I don’t know if she was and don’t care, but don’t judge an author by a character just because you think it is a stereotype. At that place and time the stereotype was as true as all enlightened doctors being Scottish. Which brings me back to words and phrasing. Excessive use of any dialect gets in the reader’s way. An author discovered that “writ” and “et” were acceptable as past tense of “write” and “eat” and used them constantly to the reader’s distraction. If it gets in the way of the plot and slows down the narrative, I don’t need to know the details. If it interests me, I go look it up.

    Reply
  175. Even the best documentary histories are riddled with inaccuracies because, as someone famous once said, history is written by the winners. But in historical romance/mystery fiction you need to set a scene, an atmosphere: the river stank, the air was foul, and people were dirty. But when a character uses a modern slang phrase instead of a contemporary phrase, it’s a turnoff and the editor should have caught it. I was on a Heyer website and they had decided Georgette was anti-Semitic because of a character in one of the books. I don’t know if she was and don’t care, but don’t judge an author by a character just because you think it is a stereotype. At that place and time the stereotype was as true as all enlightened doctors being Scottish. Which brings me back to words and phrasing. Excessive use of any dialect gets in the reader’s way. An author discovered that “writ” and “et” were acceptable as past tense of “write” and “eat” and used them constantly to the reader’s distraction. If it gets in the way of the plot and slows down the narrative, I don’t need to know the details. If it interests me, I go look it up.

    Reply
  176. If I come across words, actions or almost anything that is out of period, it makes me want to throw the book across the room. There are very few writers whose writing is strong enough to compensate. I actually don’t know why we are having this discussion. It’s not a matter of being historically accurate for the story. People are infinitely variable. Some people were ahead of their time, some stuck in the past and many in between the two. One can write a great story and be accurate as long as the author has taken time to learn the customs, language and mores of the time, one is then able to explain why your character might not behave as the norm. I also think that historical written English, is much like written German, it was not necessarily written as it was spoken.

    Reply
  177. If I come across words, actions or almost anything that is out of period, it makes me want to throw the book across the room. There are very few writers whose writing is strong enough to compensate. I actually don’t know why we are having this discussion. It’s not a matter of being historically accurate for the story. People are infinitely variable. Some people were ahead of their time, some stuck in the past and many in between the two. One can write a great story and be accurate as long as the author has taken time to learn the customs, language and mores of the time, one is then able to explain why your character might not behave as the norm. I also think that historical written English, is much like written German, it was not necessarily written as it was spoken.

    Reply
  178. If I come across words, actions or almost anything that is out of period, it makes me want to throw the book across the room. There are very few writers whose writing is strong enough to compensate. I actually don’t know why we are having this discussion. It’s not a matter of being historically accurate for the story. People are infinitely variable. Some people were ahead of their time, some stuck in the past and many in between the two. One can write a great story and be accurate as long as the author has taken time to learn the customs, language and mores of the time, one is then able to explain why your character might not behave as the norm. I also think that historical written English, is much like written German, it was not necessarily written as it was spoken.

    Reply
  179. If I come across words, actions or almost anything that is out of period, it makes me want to throw the book across the room. There are very few writers whose writing is strong enough to compensate. I actually don’t know why we are having this discussion. It’s not a matter of being historically accurate for the story. People are infinitely variable. Some people were ahead of their time, some stuck in the past and many in between the two. One can write a great story and be accurate as long as the author has taken time to learn the customs, language and mores of the time, one is then able to explain why your character might not behave as the norm. I also think that historical written English, is much like written German, it was not necessarily written as it was spoken.

    Reply
  180. If I come across words, actions or almost anything that is out of period, it makes me want to throw the book across the room. There are very few writers whose writing is strong enough to compensate. I actually don’t know why we are having this discussion. It’s not a matter of being historically accurate for the story. People are infinitely variable. Some people were ahead of their time, some stuck in the past and many in between the two. One can write a great story and be accurate as long as the author has taken time to learn the customs, language and mores of the time, one is then able to explain why your character might not behave as the norm. I also think that historical written English, is much like written German, it was not necessarily written as it was spoken.

    Reply
  181. I like both, but I do enjoy a smattering of non-fiction reading. I find the trivia (science, customs, word origins, cooking, dying fabric, etc.) the most interesting. I enjoy the “what was true” author’s notes. Amanda Scott does a nice job with those.

    Reply
  182. I like both, but I do enjoy a smattering of non-fiction reading. I find the trivia (science, customs, word origins, cooking, dying fabric, etc.) the most interesting. I enjoy the “what was true” author’s notes. Amanda Scott does a nice job with those.

    Reply
  183. I like both, but I do enjoy a smattering of non-fiction reading. I find the trivia (science, customs, word origins, cooking, dying fabric, etc.) the most interesting. I enjoy the “what was true” author’s notes. Amanda Scott does a nice job with those.

    Reply
  184. I like both, but I do enjoy a smattering of non-fiction reading. I find the trivia (science, customs, word origins, cooking, dying fabric, etc.) the most interesting. I enjoy the “what was true” author’s notes. Amanda Scott does a nice job with those.

    Reply
  185. I like both, but I do enjoy a smattering of non-fiction reading. I find the trivia (science, customs, word origins, cooking, dying fabric, etc.) the most interesting. I enjoy the “what was true” author’s notes. Amanda Scott does a nice job with those.

    Reply

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