Monday, March 26, 2012

How much history is too much? Part One: Language

How much history is too much?  Part One: Language.   One of the things I love about historical romance is just that - the history!  I am not the type of reader who will write an author a letter about all his/her factual errors, I just enjoy being carried out of my own place and time.  However, when writing historical romance I do think that authors have a responsibility to get it as close to the truth as possible without jeopardizing the entertainment value of their story.

For example, I had to make a firm choice about language when I started my Evolution Series.  The spoken language in Europe in the 830s was a rustic form of Latin with regional dialects.  As an author I made a choice to include a smattering of Latin terms and names to give a sense of that but tried to not overdo it.  I also did not want to fall into too-formal English.  As a compromise, I removed contractions from dialogue, but for readability I retained contractions in the non-dialogue.  I also avoided "modern" terms that might pull the reader out of the 830s and back into the 2010s.

I'd love your comments.  What approach to period-correct language is most effective for you as a reader?

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