Friday, March 30, 2012

Historic Accuracy? Part Two: Modern Conveniences

Historic Accuracy?  Part Two: Modern Conveniences  

One of my major challenges in writing in 830s  Europe is making clear to the reader what is NOT there.  As an example, stirrups had not been added to saddles yet.  For modern readers, the stirrup is an integral part of every saddle they have ever seen or sat on but as an author I cannot just come out and tell them the saddle had no stirrups because the concept of a stirrup -- much less the term for it -- did not exist.  There is a scene in Unbidden, 
where my heroine has a difficult time mounting her horse under duress because she has become accustomed to the hero helping her.  The reason she struggles is because she has no stirrups and did not look around for a stump or log when she dismounted.  In my historical notes I mention the stirrup-less saddle but I am still not entirely satisfied with the actual scene because I did not find a way to tell the reader there are no stirrups.

Household fixtures that were not as hard to deal with but did require some thought.  Chimneys were not yet in use so I had to describe the hearth in the middle of the floor and the hole in the roof nor could I have those wonderful love scenes in front of the bedroom fireplace because there were no fireplaces.  Toilets were generally housed in outhouses though I chose to use the term "latrine".  Even something as universal as money requires research.  What denominations of currency were in use?  What did the coins looks like and what were they made of?

As a reader,  how much detail regarding everyday items do you like to have in historical romances you read?

1 comment:

  1. I love details, accurate details. They make the story more real, until they start to bog it down. When explaining how different things are becomes the point of the page, then I skip it. All that research unread.