Rant Alert: ‘It’s Too Modern’ and Other Things

I am so sick of hearing how modern my wording is for my historicals.  First of all, those were my earlier works, so I wish people would keep in mind that there’s a learning curve involved here. 

Second, how many historical books have I read that are traditionally published that use modern language as well?  Seriously, I can’t count all the modern use of language I’ve run across, and yet those books average 4 to 5 stars.  I read a book by a popular author who is through Harlequin now (started off with another publisher) and the hero was saying words like ‘shit’ and ‘bitch’ right in front of the heroine.  Back then, a hero would know better than to say such offensive words to ears of the fairer sex, wouldn’t he?  Esp. if he was marrying her?  I can’t imagine men doing a lot of cussing back then in general.  Not like we cuss today. 

And yes, I’ve seen modern expressions used in historicals.  I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I imitated what I was reading when I started writing historicals.  The only thing I wasn’t hip on was what had and had not been invented yet, but I don’t get clowned for that, so I assume my research paid off.


And onto other modern things I’ve found in historicals…

Sex before marriage, esp. for the woman, was greatly frowned upon.  The US was a sexually restrictive nation back in the old times.  Sure, they had brothels, but prostitutes weren’t women you took home to meet your family and you certainly didn’t marry one.  Respectable women didn’t have sex before marriage, and if they did and it was discovered, the whole town would have looked down on her.  But according to the majority of historical romances I read, everyone and their sister was out having sex without any repercussions from it.  How historically accurate is that?

And back then, church was a big deal to people.  They used Scripture from the Bible and prayed in schools.  God was a focal point.  But I don’t see these things being mentioned in historical romances.  (Talking secular romances.)  I’ve looked at some letters written back in the late 1800s and saw many references to God’s providence, so they not only employed God in the classroom but that is how they talked and wrote.  But I can’t find that anywhere, and the watered down Christian romances miss it too.  In large, God was a big deal to these people.

And another thing, these gay and lesbian and threesome romances I’ve seen popping up in historical context wouldn’t have been condoned back then either.  I understand that these things might have happened behind closed doors, but it wasn’t in the open and it surely wasn’t as ‘permittable’ as those books make it seem.  The gay 90’s back in the 1800s referred to being ‘happy’, not being a homosexual.

So if we’re going to get our panties knotted up in a bunch over the use of modern language in a historical romance, let’s get them knotted up all across the board.  Fair is fair, right?

Seriously, people need to relax.  It’s just a book.  Fiction is fiction.  I’m not writing a documentary.  If I was, then 1) it would be boring because I hate documentaries and 2) I’m learning as I go.  Give me some grace, huh?  We don’t all start out walking.  We have to learn to roll and sit first.  Some people crawl first.  Some people get up one day and just walk.  But it’s really not a big deal.  I can’t believe people would get so bent out of shape over this kind of thing.  It’s just a story.  And I’m not kidding.  I’ve read traditionally published historical romances that were modern.  So….give me a freakin’ break.  I wish the nitpickers of the world would never read anything I wrote. 

And while I’m ranting…

I am sick and tired of the same group of people following me all over the Internet.  I’m aware they are trolls.  People who, for one reason or another, I managed to piss off along the way.  Not that I was trying to piss them off but hey, you can’t please everyone all the time. 

I wish those people would get a life.  This is why I don’t answer every email I get anymore.  Apparently, when I nicely said no to a couple of people, it pissed them off enough to become my personal stalkers.  I don’t do anything to them, and I certainly don’t retaliate because I have more important things to do, like watch the grass grow.  I know the trolls aren’t worth it.   

And this takes me to another tangent.  I don’t know where this idea that just because you ask someone for something, it means that person is entitled to give it to you came from.  When I was growing up, I was taught that if you ask someone for a favor, you had to be prepared for them to say no, and if they said no, you were to be gracious about it.  These authors who go up to other authors and ask for something should understand that authors are busy people who have families of their own to take care of. 

It is not my responsibility to make sure you get a book reviewed.  It is not my responsibility that your work is critiqued.  It is not my responsibility to give you an interview or tell other people about you.  I can’t count how many authors I don’t know who’ve come up to me expecting something, and dare I mention a review in exchange for giving them a review, they all into a huff about how busy they are.  Hello.  I’m busy too.  And if you come to me asking for a favor, the least you can do is be willing to return the favor.  But these people (who later turn into trolls with a personal vendetta) expect to get something for nothing.  I now ignore all emails from these people I don’t know who come to me asking for something.  What’s the point?  At least if you ignore them, they’re more likely to not take personal offense when you say no.  I’ve learned no matter how polite you are, some people will get nasty.

I wonder if other authors get this kind of grief or if it’s just me.  Knowing my luck, it would be ‘just me’. 

I tried to hold off and be more pleasant on this blog, but I had to get that stuff off my chest.  If I upset people because of my rants, oh well.  I can’t control how you all interpret what I write.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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6 Responses to Rant Alert: ‘It’s Too Modern’ and Other Things

  1. Mary says:

    Block the trolls. Keep writing! More people love you than stalk you! I know, the stalkers are creepy. They are probably creepy for real, in every facet of their lives. I’m sure every writer has someone leaning over his/her shoulder second guessing the content. Nothing would ever be written, if the writer followed someone else’s heart! Tell them to write their own novel, and leave yours alone.

  2. rmriegel says:

    Tell it like it is, sister! You’re entitled to a rant every now and again if it’s something that really gets under your skin. And I don’t blame you for a bit of it. You just write your stories how you want them to be written. Plenty of people love your work, so there are bound to be people with complaints. I guess that’s the world balancing things out. =/

    • Thanks. I look at other writers and think they must have it easy because I look at their books that average 4 or 5 stars out of 20+ reviews. I wish I could get that, but I end up averaging 3 stars when the book is reviewed enough. I think something in my books pisses a lot of people off, and they are using the ‘too modern’ and ‘needs editing’ excuses to cover up what their real gripe is. That’s what I suspect anyway.

      But as Mary says, every writer probably does deal with it to some extent. I’m probably the only one I know of who dares to mention it on a popular forum.

  3. I need to find a way to comment from my phone…. I read these on it then forget to log in on the PC and comment :p

    I can go for super historical with run on sentences, or I can go for the more modernized language – but the second is a much faster, easier read. For instance, I recently read a medieval fantasy series where the characters use just a handful of “oldy” phrases (like they use “good frith” when they “curse”, but for the most part they talk pretty modern. i think that actually opens the genre up more to casual readers. A lot of people turn away from fantasy – or hostoric – novels because they find the language confusing. sure, a few diehards are going to be unhappy, but I think it’s worth it to broaden the audience.

    • I’m with you there. People wonder why I can’t get into Austen who is ‘so wonderful’. It’s because I get tired of reading her use of written language. Same with Shakespeare. I’ve read enough classics and enjoyed them enough, but the books I reread and keep on my shelves are those that speak to me on a modern level. I think a few expressions, like the one you mentioned, are good to get a feel for the period, but I see no reason to be hit over the head with it. I read a good book, but the character spoke hillbilly in every sentence he spoke and it drove me nuts. I started skimming him.

      I agree that the diehards will never be satisfied, and typically when I check the books they loved, those books didn’t sell well anyway. I think a ‘true historical’ will bore most.

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