Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Getting the history right...
Every year I judge a few contests. It's one of the ways I like to give back to RWA. And every year I find myself so frustrated by people who don't seem to do their research. Now there are some things that are obscure and hard to find out, and that's fine.
But there are basic things that can be found easily with a quick search that just seem to be ignored. And words that get used that yank me right out of the story. And it frustrates me. Why bother writing a historical if you're not going to do the research? Now obviously, we can't write in Middle English, but don't use words that are so clearly out of period. And again, a quick check at Etymonline and Dictionary.com (which seems to have added some etymological entries) will tell you whether or not you're way off base.
And don't assume you know something about a period. Really - that's very dangerous. I can't even count the number of times I've been caught out by that - thinking I KNOW something, when in fact I'm dead wrong.
But I still go back to my question - why write a historical if you don't want to at least make a half-decent attempt at recreating that world? Is it the pretty costumes? The heroes in armour? What?
This is a plea to all those who want to write a historical romance - do your research. Please. Even if it's just a wall paper historical, you need to get the basics right.
Ok - rant over.
Currently Reading: The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch
Link of the Day: History Buff - Author Michelle Moran's blog