Adventures in Writing a Novel

How dare you be Historical!?!? #writing #amwriting #historicalfiction #historicalromance #author

Jamie-Fraser-outlander-2014-tv-series-37463435-245-245In the last few weeks, I’ve stumbled across Outlander. Yes I know I’m far behind, and we are now on season two, but with season one on DVD, I was able to catch up on the first season before the second even started.

Of course, while I’ve been addicted to this TV show airing on Starz every week,  I know that the series originally came from novels, so with that in mind I’m even farther behind—especially, since the novels are all like 600 pages. Yikes!

But back to the point, while researching a little about the books and the plot lines of each of the stories, I looked into the reviews. Of course, I’ve never based my opinions on the 1 star reviews, but I still like to read them. Call it curiosity, call it entertainment, call it whatever. I like to read them.

So there I was smack dab in the middle of the 1 Star reviews for Outlander when I started noticing a rather consistent trend in the reasons that women hated this novel. At first I thought it was just a few, but then it became pretty much every single one. Over and over again, I’d read the same complaints: “It’s so gruesome it makes the novel not believable.” “It’s too graphic, people back then didn’t act like that at all (Really? Are  you sure about that?).” “It’s got too much sexual violence and beatings. Oh, the beatings.” “She should have never forgiven him for beating her that one time.”

1 star after 1 star it was the same grievances said dozens of times in dozens of different ways.

Now, while I should be shocked to see these sort of reviews, I have to admit that I’m not. Not in the slightest.

Jamie-Fraser-outlander-2014-tv-series-37650324-500-508As a historical author, I find that with a lot of readers, especially those who aren’t privy to historical facts, tend to complain about anything that was normal back in the day, but is now considered taboo.

Why do they do it?

Because they expect the hero or heroine to act and perform as though they were living in modern day society.

Having dealt with it first hand with reviews on my own novel about slaves during the civil war, I can tell you it’s rather annoying. I wish I could grab their shoulders through the computer and shake them. But I can’t.

So instead, I’ll put this here . . .

tumblr_nb6asp9bn31qcmbd6o9_250Dear Readers,

Just because you, living in this day and era feel that certain behaviors are outrageous, gruesome, and unbelievable because they don’t happen nowadays, doesn’t mean that back in historical time periods people didn’t do these things or feel that they were in the wrong for it.

When you feel that a certain character couldn’t forgive a loved one for beating her up, that’s your mindset and it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen back then. Not to mention, when you read further and dive into the deep crux of a relationship, you will probably find how she forgave him. Jamie and Claire loved each other immensely, which is why she forgave him.

As for my own novel, when you feel that a certain character couldn’t have compassion for another human being because she may be a different race or have a difference social standing, that’s your mindset and it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen back then.

You have never lived back in that time period, and while I have never lived back in that time period, either, I’ve done immense research before writing my novel. When we, as historical authors, put certain events in our books we aren’t being mean spirited against women, nor are we being over dramatic for the sake of writing a best seller. We are being true to the time period because we all know the wrath we will face if we don’t.

Sincerely,

A Historical Author

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13 thoughts on “How dare you be Historical!?!? #writing #amwriting #historicalfiction #historicalromance #author

  1. Wonderful!! Thank you! I’m dealing with the same thing right now. As I tell other writers and readers, it’s history, deal with it. You can’t change the past.

  2. Oh Angela, you’re going to get me started, aren’t you? Ha. You know they are changing history now, right? Many in today’s society want any offensive words and/or behaviors from history removed from historical novels, movies or tv shows. I’ve heard they want the N word removed from historical movies during the period of slavery because it’s offensive to people today.

    What gets me is that we have to tell the truth about history, otherwise we can fall back into repeating patterns, which we’re doing right now. So, I’m done. That wasn’t too long of a soapbox … at least for me. 😛

    1. I have no words for the culture of today wanting to change history. Somewhere people have got it in their heads that embracing = believing. You can embrace the past as it’s our past, and the past of this country, but that doesn’t mean you believe in all that they did. Just as all of a sudden disagreement = hate. Ugh.

  3. Oh! I was so infuriated a while back when I read some of the comments on “The Woman on the Painted Horse”. I had to really temper my reply at one person, because I was so incredibly aggravated by it! It’s been a while since I read it, but it was something along the lines of, “This book is outlandish because that stuff would never happen in real life”. So I responded with, “You realize that it actually did happen right?”
    I was so aggravated, it’s one of my newest favorite books. The one I go back to all the time when I need a good read. It’s incredibly researched, absolutely believable and just a damn good book. So I got mad. lol, I know what you mean!

    1. 🙂 Thank you for the support. All I can do is shrug off the reviews. I knew coming into it that the topic was controversial and that I’d have some who wouldn’t like it. Topic aside, though, when it comes to historical facts, I tend not to shrug so easy. I had one reviewer “correct” me with historical facts and she was actually wrong (it was through a service and her review never published because she gave it a 1 star—she didn’t like it because they drank). I spent four years writing and researching that novel. I even still have all my research books and about 20 pages of written notes, which include a Creek Indian Dictionary. Lol. Oh well. Everyone is different and like/dislike different things.

  4. Excellent analysis. I’d like to add that while these 1-star readers expect historical characters to act with modern morals, that is part of the whole point of these novels. Could you, as a modern person (especially a woman), even survive in that time period? Claire has a unique problem– she doesn’t “fit in”. Her 1940s behavior makes her stick out like a sore thumb. She knows things that will happen, and some of her decision making is based on that knowledge. Indeed, if someone came from the future to OUR time, we would probably institutionalize them as Mentally Ill.

    1. Hi Patsy! Thank you for stopping by! I totally wouldn’t fit in if I was in Claire’s shoes. I would have died within the first day. LOL. However, if you put me in like maybe the late 1800’s or early 1900’s I’d probably do okay. 🙂

  5. I don’t understand the dislike of history! I am a major history buff and read historical novels for that reason. Then, if I like the subject matter/era, I will read non-fiction books regarding the era. Until I found Outlander again, I had not read romance in a long time. Diana puts all the pieces together, and as she says, it is not a romance novel, it is about marriage. If you don’t care about history, what are you doing reading historical fiction! Geez! I also don’t understand the dislike about the war pieces or the other characters. I keep seeing remarks like “let’s get back to Jamie and Claire”. What is a marriage without the family, friends, community, etc? What is a story about marriage and how you survive the bad times if you don’t have conflicts, problems, wars and whatnot? If all you want is romance and happily ever after, go see a Disney movie! Thanks for giving me a place to rant! I don’t know your work but I will certainly check it out.

    1. LOL. No problem. Rant away! I could have gone on for much longer in this post, believe me. I’m about half way into the first book. They are going to take me forever, but I’m determined to finish them. I’m enjoying them so far. Lots of detail and history. 🙂 If you do check out my stories, I hope you enjoy them! 🙂

  6. I loved all of the outlander books. The series is excellent. The characters are so real. Never once have I thought someone out if place or misrepresented. These are historical novels with the poetic license of the writer. I am glad it was written as it was. Could not imagine it any other way

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