Thursday, April 19, 2012

How did people communicate over long distance in the middle ages?

If you want instant and painless access to my ebook Unbidden, it is FREE on Amazon Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20.

Instant Access - I don't know about you but many people expect that I should be available for communication all the time.  As in NOW!  My husband will call two phone numbers and text me within minutes trying to track me down.  His customers will call him nights and weekends, and some are offended that he does not answer business calls during those times.  Everyone wants us and the fascinating information from our brains NOW!

I am old enough to remember when phones were attached to wall jacks and mail came on paper so sympathizing  and understanding the limitations in communication in the historical romances I read and write might be less of a stretch than it is for the younger generation.  Nonetheless, it is something that has to be considered when creating a timeline and plot, and can be used to enrich the story.

How did people communicate over long distance?  How reliable was it?  (We have all read stories in which the disappearance of a single letter changed the course of a relationship.  Or worse, when the wrong person reads the letter....)  How could a young heroine survive for months without any word from the man she adored from afar?  Poor Elizabeth Bennett could not even send Darcy a text saying "Sorry dude <3" after he revealed his life history to her in a long hand-written letter.  Yet somehow Jane Austen makes us continue to care what Elizabeth is doing and believe that somehow she and Darcy will get their happy ending.

In the book I am currently writing (not medieval), telegraph service is working its way westward which helps resolve some conflict quickly at the end while adding a little historical background to help anchor the reader in the 1880s.  This book covers about a two year period because of communication and transportation challenges, while in our time the hero and heroine would never even have met, much less had to drag out their courtship.  But my hero needed that time to grow up and find out what he really wants in life ----> heroine.  NOW!

While the constant demands for instant access is sometimes draining, I do not think I would move backward to a time of slower communication.  How about you?

By the way, if you want instant and painless access to my ebook Unbidden, it is FREE on Amazon Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20.

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