Historical Romance (Mine and Other People’s)

I finished reading “The Other Boleyn Girl” this weekend. Having fictionalized history before in a short story, I am always in awe of people who can do it for novels. It’s very hard to translate dry, non-fictional history into something interesting. I am even more in awe of people who can write a novel where the outcome is known, yet you keep turning the pages with your breath held, because you want to see how it turns out.

That being said, I had one major disappointment with the novel: it was riddled with grammatical mistakes. Every page seemed to lack commas were they are necessary (as opposed to the ones which are optional). There were numerous run-on sentences/comma splices, plus incomplete sentences.

I’ll allow for run-on sentences and incomplete sentences in dialogue, because people do not speak with perfect grammar, but these errors were not in dialogue; they were in the regular text.

I don’t fault Philippa Gregory that much, because she is clearly a good writer–not everyone who can tell a good story also has impeccable grammar (especially if you have a large book to write in a short amount of time)–but this is why agents and publishers employ editors. Did no one go through the book with a red pen before it was sent to publishing? Even worse, I was reading a new edition. Even if the book was rushed to print the first time, these errors should have been corrected before subsequent editions went to press.

This made me pick up Acceptance and get back to work on making my grammatical/typo corrections. I’ve been procrastinating too long; I need to finish it and start sending it out to publishers.

I also have to do some major rewriting of The Flames of Prague. My husband and a friend both read it, and while they liked the characters, they both said it was too quick and I didn’t spend enough time with the characters, especially in the second half of the book, where I have two main characters, not just one. So I am going to go back to my original idea, which is to have it as two separate books. I originally combined the two because I didn’t think I had enough material to support two separate books, but having completed it–and gotten attached to my characters–I think I can push both of them out to the 70,000-75,000 count necessary.

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2 comments on “Historical Romance (Mine and Other People’s)

  1. Wallace says:

    I’ve always found that, tho you and I and a few others may know history very well, most people don’t. Therefore an historical novel that doesn’t involve historical characters commonly taught in World History 101 can do very well in keeping the reader wrapt up in what is going on. This is especially true if the writer includes a number of minor characters in history and makes them major characters in the book. Everybody knows about King Henry VIII and his wives, not everybody knows about the family of his wives and what happened to them. A Man For All Seasons was an excellent book and movie for precisely this reason. Most people didn’t know much about Moore and knew even less about the other characters of the King’s court.

    As to the grammar and punctuation errors in the book, most of the time a reprint is just that, a reprint, not a newly edited edition. And since most books these days are set and printed by computer, any error in the first edition will just keep propagating thru all subsequent editions until the author acutally re-edits the book for a “new, improved, expanded” edition, which seldom ever happens with a novel.

    I’m reminded of a funny story told by Anne McCaffrey about her book, Get Off The Unicorn. The original title was Get Of The Unicorn, but the editor didn’t know that get is another word for offspring and “corrected” the title to be grammatically “correct” and substituted Off for Of. By the time McCaffrey found out about the “correction” it had already gone to press and has remained that way ever since. Sometimes errors just creep into books and the author is just stuck with them, it being either to late or too costly to fix them.

    • keripeardon says:

      I do worry that if my Acceptance trilogy ever makes it to a traditional publisher, the editor will try to un-Southern Kalyn’s speech. While she’s not heavy in Southernese, she’ll end sentences with a preposition in a heartbeat and say other things which are particularly Southern (like “coke” instead of “soda”).

      I have to be careful that Rob, Norma, Anselm, Micah, and Isaac do not speak Southernese (as they are not Southern by birth), but that Kalyn, Alice, Rose, and Jeremy do. Ciaran has to occasionally pop out something uniquely Irish, while Marie curses in French and speaks very precise English (almost never using a contraction).

      And, in the midst of all of that dialogue craziness, the narrative has to proper English. So I definitely want to review the editor’s corrections before print.

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