Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beheaded by bad research! The perils of writing historicals

Losing one's head to historically savvy readers and reviewers when writing historical fiction is always a possibility if your research is sloppy.
Anachronisms can behead you.
Bad chronology can destroy your theme, premise and moral, to say nothing of your heroes' and heroines' motivations.
So what has gone wrong in novels of yesteryear?
A woman turning a faucet of running water in the 17th century. (Where was the copy editor?)
Dialogue that hums with Kardashian-Speak. Ex: "She did what?" Or: "And that means what?"
Drawers, underthings in the wrong century.  In particular, bras.
People doing odd things in odd settings. For ex: The frontier woman who never works a plow. A medieval woman who does not do some sort of work in her castle, domain or cottage/shack.
Having taught history in high school and college, I am a firm believer in suggesting and even assigning the reading of historical fiction to my students to interest them and make the period come ALIVE.
Good research means an author does more than entertain. They inform, they inspire, they educate, they foster critical thinking.
My latest Great Historical Read is NOT BETWEEN BROTHERS by David Marion Wilkinson.

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