Thursday, August 25, 2011

Historical Language in Books

**Sorry for posting late, had kindergarten orientation all morning...**

Yesterday, my mother came to visit. Recently, she purchased one of my new releases, which happens to be a medieval.  She said it took her awhile to get the "language" of the story.  Contemporaries are her normal genre of choice, so to her it was a whole new world reading a medieval.

I'd never really thought about it before. I know when I'm writing, I do have my characters speak in a particular way, depending on era, sex, class, etc... But since I'm so engrained in history the majority of the time, I don't have to "get into the language" as she put it.

Now, luckily, after the first chapter, she fully understood the language and quickly sped through subsequent chapters.

Looking at the chapter, some of the words that were used that may be considered historical were: headdress, mayhap, border holding, Hadrian's Wall (a historical site), broke their fast, walls (as in the high walls surrounding the castle), keep (castle), etc... It was interesting to go through and see they words, and realize that to someone unused to seeing them, they might sound odd.

Question for writers: How do you write? I know for myself, my editors will say "sounds too modern" if I use a word or phrase that wasn't used in the era I'm writing. How do you keep your book "in character" so to speak, since the history truly is a main character.

Question for readers: Do you find the language confusing at times? Do you enjoy the historical language?

Can't wait to see your answers!

Cheers,
Eliza

2 comments:

Jaye Viner said...

I write often in a historic period. Tends to work that I read novels from the period I'm writing in. Usually I read several before writing anything.

Wendy Soliman said...

I think it's a fine balance. Yes, you need period language for authenticity but too much and it puts readers off.