Writing Historical Novels, Part Eight: Rules – Personal Beliefs and Authenticity #historicalromance #romance

When I first became obsessed with Outlander, I went online to read some of the reviews on the books. Why, I don’t know, but curiosity always drives me.

Perhaps, it’s because I like to see that no matter how much of a blockbuster a book is, it will still have a broad range of reviews from the five-star to even the one star.

Oh yes, even books that are LOVED by millions and millions of people, are still hated by some.

Psst, which is why you shouldn’t put too much stock in a one-star review on your own novel.

But back to the point, while I knew that Outlander would probably have some bad reviews on how much history was written between the pages, I have to say I was a bit surprised at the reason why. It wasn’t because readers felt it too long and boring (even if there were several that stated such), but it was because . . . the author stuck to historical accuracy when it came to the relationship—and proper submissiveness—between Jamie and Claire as husband and wife.

Wait, what?

Several years ago I wrote a blog on readers complaining that a historical author was being, well, historical. How dare we!

You can read the blog HERE.

The jest of the blog is this, though, people acted differently in the past, whether you like it or not. They did. Period. It’s our past. It’s our history. Does it make it right? No. I never said that. However, it being wrong, doesn’t erase the fact that it happened.

I refuse to get political on this post, so for those wanting to debate on the atrocities of history and how we should not teach certain events in school or remove any offending monument from the earth, you can just keep on scrolling. Don’t even both commenting. That is not the purpose nor is this the space to climb up on your soapbox and vent.

So where am I going with this if it’s not just that?

Writing historical novels takes a level of responsibility to maintain historical accuracy whether you believe in what people did back then or not. Sure, you can take slight liberty here and there, say for example of having a woman character perhaps act in a matter that could have been rather brazen for that time period.

However, to white-wash history for your own beliefs . . .

I have to ask why even write historical novels?

  • Characters need to act and talk authentically to the era
  • Don change character behavior for the sake of political correctness in another era
  • They can have different thoughts and opinions on controversial matters, but don’t make them too modern
Personal Beliefs
  • Just because you don’t believe people should have done certain things doesn’t mean your characters shouldn’t too.
  • Don’t whitewash history
  • Don’t use your novel to push your political agenda – it’s fiction, and people read as a way to escape what’s going on in the real world

Be sure to check out the other parts of this series:

What is the difference?

Elements to Historical Fiction and Historical Romance

Rules for Historical Fiction and Historical Romance

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