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Thursday, March 27, 2008
1:30 AM | Posted by MsHellion | | Edit Post
I’m the only historical writing pirate on this boat, so I thought perhaps it was time I stop shirking my duties and start representing (er, representin’?) with some historical appropriate bloggage. One of our lovely wenches, Kelly Krysten, blogged on her personal blog this week about historical historicals and how much accuracy is really necessary for a historical to pass the “historical” test. That got me thinking about why there has to be a historical test in the first place.
*Gunner Marnee clears her throat and attempts to look sheepish*. So far, despite the fact that I am writing a Regency novel and I have done some research, I haven’t been killing myself with research or gotten myself all twisted up over it.
*The Captain sashays to her feet, searching for an empty rum bottle to throw at her gunner. Finding all of the bottles still have some rum left in them, she settles for placing her hands on her hips and scowling fiercely*. Not stressing about research?! What sort of half-ass approach to writing are you pulling around here?
*Her gunner gives a cheeky grin*. I’m a PIRATE. I’m relying on wit and sass.
*The crew grumbles a bit, but can’t find any fault to GM’s logic. They fall silent as the gunner continues.*
Personally, I think it’s more important right now to focus on just spitting my story out. I assume that I’ll start pulling it apart for historical inaccuracies later. But in first draft, I am just focusing on writing my characters and plot. I’ll deal with the colors of petticoats, fabric types for nightgowns, and all that other craziness later.
To continue my historical writing confessions, I have to say that my heroine and hero tend more towards the post-modern than what would have been appropriate back then. I know we’ve chatted before about historical heroines feeling too contemporary, as if they spent a healthy amount of time burning their bras and reading Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan. That bothers
some, but to be perfectly honest, I prefer it.
*The Captain does grab the nearest rum bottle now, without regard to the inch of liquid still left in it. The Boatswain hurries forward to pacify her in her ire but more likely attempting to save the booze. Sin and Lissa watch the proceedings as if such occurrences happen aboard the RWR all the time. (They do, you say?) Gunner scurries behind a nearby cannon, ducking before she continues.*
In fact, the things I love about novels set in the historical settings are things that have primarily been made up by romance authors. They are the lovely character types historical novel readers have grown to love. But, the reformed rake, the bluestocking who finds someone to love her for her mind, and the governess who gets the lord all feel like the stuff of fantasy. From what I know of history, these sorts of things didn’t happen in reality. At least they didn’t happen often.
The women and men of those time periods would have made the women I know get out their “slap some sense into these people” sticks. I did a report in grad school about medical care (or lack thereof) for women and it made my feminist sensibilities howl in protest. Feisty women who attempted to rebel could easily find their ways into insane asylums. Women were not permitted their own property. Nothing about that is romantic to me.
My heroine’s a witch and she has magical powers. She hardly seems the sort to let anyone push her around.
With all of this said, you might be wondering why I bother writing in a historical setting at all.
For one, I like the tension inherent in male/female relationships back then. If people were caught in compromising situations, they had to get married. Unmarried sex was more risky without the advances we have today in birth control. In contemporary novels, the stakes don’t feel as high to me and the situations don’t feel as dire.
I also like that I’ll never REALLY know what it was like back then. It lets me make parts of it up, though admittedly not all. In order to give historical romances their historical flare I admit that there needs to be enough accuracy to convince the reader that it could have happened. But, I’m not convinced it has to be completely authentic. Leave out the excrement floating in the streets, please.
But, because my characters are destined to have a contemporary feel (as I would argue most historical heroes and heroines do in recent historicals because of authorial bias), I approach my writing more as if I’m writing fantasy and that historical detail needs only to give it authenticity.
In the end, I hope my characters keep my readers reading and that said readers don’t even
notice they are missing out on all the historic details.
What do you think about historical details in novels? Do you think they should be as authentic as possible or are the post-modern historicals ok by you? If you write historical, why and why not some other genre? If you don’t write historical, how comes why not?
P.S. I was looking for test images and this is the best I could do. Don't be a hater.