Sunday, April 7, 2013

Historical Writing: Not as Easy as you may Think!

Today's rant is about accuracy!


Luckily for me, I have a passion for history. Not only that, but I taught Ancient History through the

Medieval Times for five years. To top it off, I taught Middle School! Just as a taste, "But why?" and "How?" were questions I was asked on a daily basis... like every twenty minutes.  I believe that my love and my "training" has given me a profound edge in my historical writing. And I will forever be grateful to all of my students who questioned me, and made me dig deeper. " But Why?" do you ask.

Historical novel research is critical

Names and Clothing,

From the name of your characters to the clothes that they wear, every aspect of the historical novel must be accurate. You would find someone named "Septimus" (Ancient Roman) living say in Scotland in the 1600's.  He wouldn't speak with a English accent, and wouldn't wear jeans either. (Now, I know I'm taking things a bit far. If someone were to write about our dear Septimus in Rome, I'm sure they wouldn't put him in jeans. But, you may be surprised.)

But my biggest gripe? LANGUAGE!

There are a great many words that we use today that are variants of previous words and cultures. Many weren't even used until the 18th and 19th centuries. So to speak of a "tramp" in Ancient Roman times... She would have been called a "lupa".  The literal translation of this is "She-wolf". (Yep, a pretty good start to someone being a prostitute.) 

So where is this going? 

The other day, while complaining on twitter about not being able to find a word while I was editing, a great writing friend of mine, @CairnRodrigues, lead me to a wonderful site for word genealogy. So without further ado.....

Online Etymology Dictionary!

Look It Up!


  1. Thanks for the shout out. We women of letters need to stick together :)

    1. Agreed! Couldn't have done it without you and this link! Thanks so much Cairn!