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Writing means different things to me. I'm a storyteller, a book editor, and a songwriter. For me, it's like breathing.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Writing and stylistic preferences

When writing stories set in historical settings, a writer needs to make a choice between using historically accurate dialogue or dialogue that compromises between modern phrasing and historically accurate words so the readers can best understand the dialogue. This was a choice I had to make and I know I will take some flack for it.

My books, though set in historical settings, are not true historicals. They lean more toward fantasy. To gain a wider range of readers, I have opted for the latter choice. I avoid any modern slang from slipping into the story, but my phrasing is more modern and simple. I admit that I even have a hard time reading a historical novel that uses "historically accurate dialogue." I realize by not sticking to the historically accurate diologue that it could discolor the atmosphere somewhat, but I make up for this by writing detailed descriptions to pull the reader into the story. I realize that some readers (especially those that are sticklers for accuracy and those that read straight historicals) may not agree with my stylistic choice. But maybe these readers would not be interested in my book anyway.

Hopefully, readers will still enjoy my stories. So far I have received favorable reviews. I stick by my choice, but I welcome comments related to this topic.


Charli Cole said...

I believe the way you're doing it is great.

I write historical fiction as well...if you're only counting the setting.

Everything else is quite modernized.

I mean...I make certain to use words that were in existence and steer clear from modern slang...but you won't find too much of that historical jargon within my writing.


Contemporary readers don't have the patience for it anymore.

It was probably all fine and dandy when there wasn't a such thing as television or whatever.

But now...you have to play by the readers' rules.

And the number one thing I try to make sure of...is that they don't get bored.

Writing in the traditional fashion will almost guarantee that.

But doing it the way you're doing it...it'll soar.

Just my two cents.

Kelley Heckart said...

Thanks Cali! I agree with what you said about reader's not having the patience for historical jargon. I am included in that group. There is nothing more frustrating than having to re-read a sentence more than once because you can't understand what they mean. Grrr!

Charli Cole said...

Tell me about it. That's the primary reason I set out to write history a bit differently.