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The biggest writing fault I come across

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The Czar
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Post by The Czar » Thu March 8th, 2012, 6:34 pm

I hate when the author of a multi-volume series feels the need to "catch up" the guy who started with book five... by putting a forced and out of place summary of books 1-4 in there somewhere.

Dorothy Dunnett is bad about this in the Niccolo series. Its one of the reasons I stopped reading it in book five.

I also hate how most protagonists I read in HF anymore have such good, 21st century progressive morals. I read so much HF where the protagonist abhors slavery, finds pedophelia disgusting, is completely racially colorblind, and views Christianity and Islam, for example, as equally valid.

That ain't how people, even good ones, thought!
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.
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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Fri March 9th, 2012, 12:07 am

Czar, agreed. Speaking *as* a feminist, I find myself baffled and annoyed by histfic featuring Strong, Independent, Beautiful (they're always beautiful) Heroines who read like modern corporate CEOs.

It's understandable that this idea - once revolutionary, and I remember when - became a trend. Unfortunately, all these years later, it looks very dated to me - and, more to the point, it distracts from the entertainment. It also seems to me a vast disservice to the REAL women - many of them, yes, strong, and in fact even independent - who endured limitations and difficulties these SIBH/Mary Sues blithely get by without.

Thinking about it, too - I am sick to the teeth of every MC being beautiful, brilliant, and able to do everything - even making mistakes - with insight and unflagging motivation. Beauty, in particular, tires me out. Why do they all have to be (our contemporary version of) pretty? The men, the women - geez, it's a bore. I wouldn't even describe Clovis in great detail in The Ax and the Vase. (But I did have a little fun doing exactly that in the WIP!)
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"

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bevgray
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Post by bevgray » Fri March 9th, 2012, 12:55 pm

My pet peeve in reading historical fiction is what I call the prescient approach in which the author anticipates through the narrative the scholarship that effects the historical study many years later.

For example, the sinking of the Lusitania. At the time it happened, it was an attack by a U-Boat on an unarmed civilian vessel. What was worse, it was an attack without warning (even though the German Embassy had advertised their intention to engage in unrestricted submarine warfare in most of the papers in the U.S., the U-Boat captain did not announce his intent when the liner was sighted). The Germans claimed she was carrying munitions but, at the time, no one believed that argument. Later scholarship indicates that she may well have been doing so but, to the British and American citizenry of that time, it was an act of barbarism against women and children. Civilized nations just don't do such things in the mindset of the late 19th-early 20th century. Consequently, a writer has to be very careful to keep that viewpoint in perspective when writing about the sinking and not project the idea that she was somehow a valid target.
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donroc
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Post by donroc » Fri March 9th, 2012, 1:51 pm

My pet peeves for all genres are the abductions of the MCs' loved ones and villains who cannot be killed or thwarted when they should until the predictable endings.

As a writer of HF, I cannot know how each reader will react to historical info. I try my best to negotiate my craft between the Scylla of narrative info dumping and Charybdis of dialogue info and hope I have succeeded.
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SGM
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Post by SGM » Fri March 9th, 2012, 7:06 pm

[QUOTE=The Czar;98265]
I also hate how most protagonists I read in HF anymore have such good, 21st century progressive morals. I read so much HF where the protagonist abhors slavery, finds pedophelia disgusting, is completely racially colorblind, and views Christianity and Islam, for example, as equally valid.QUOTE]

I quite agree and I think this highlights the difference between an HF novel and a "classic" novel. The classic speaks with the voice of its own time and not that of a more modern time. Unless, of course, it is a "classic" HF as with Walter Scott which speaks with the voice of the 19th century or Daniel Defoe that of the 18th century, even if the action is set in a previous era.

Hence we have to put up with the prejudices of the times in which the novels were written even if we find some aspects unpalatable (for instance the anti-semitism of Tara Bulba mentioned in a previous post) to us today. But, at least we get a better understanding of the mood of those times even if we don't like it.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri March 9th, 2012, 8:39 pm

This may sound strange coming from someone who regularly beats the drum against modern slavery. But I don't think that in cultures where slavery was the norm that it always had to be a bad thing.

The slave-master dymanic is fraught with more perils that between two free people, of course, but it has in it many of the same relationship patterns that are perfectly acceptable between (stronger) male and (weaker) female, between parent and child, between rich and poor. Could turn horrible, but not necessarily so.

In today's world, where it is NOT the cultural or legal norm (give or take some miserable places we are trying very hard to change) slavery is almost always a much more negative proposition, usually involving physical destruction of one form or another.

I also find the egalitarian, class-neutral viewpoint being transported into the past. What annoys me here is that in one of my works, I have an historical character who, from his documented letters and actions, was astoundingly egalitarian for a noble of his day. And I can't make this stand out much, because the modern reader assumes that's just as he should be. :rolleyes:

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Post by annis » Fri March 9th, 2012, 10:02 pm

"The two pillars of `political correctness' are a) willful ignorance, and b) a steadfast refusal to face the truth".
George Macdonald Fraser

Although GMF could be a grumpy old sod, I agree with his opinion that political correctness and historical sensibility are incompatible.

Interesting (and robustly un-PC) article from GMF on the subject:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... tself.html
Last edited by annis on Sat March 10th, 2012, 2:55 am, edited 4 times in total.

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donroc
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Post by donroc » Sat March 10th, 2012, 12:38 am

Also agree, and thank you for the post.
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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Sun March 11th, 2012, 3:47 am

[quote=""MLE""]This may sound strange coming from someone who regularly beats the drum against modern slavery. But I don't think that in cultures where slavery was the norm that it always had to be a bad thing.

The slave-master dymanic is fraught with more perils that between two free people, of course, but it has in it many of the same relationship patterns that are perfectly acceptable between (stronger) male and (weaker) female, between parent and child, between rich and poor. Could turn horrible, but not necessarily so.

In today's world, where it is NOT the cultural or legal norm (give or take some miserable places we are trying very hard to change) slavery is almost always a much more negative proposition, usually involving physical destruction of one form or another.

I also find the egalitarian, class-neutral viewpoint being transported into the past. What annoys me here is that in one of my works, I have an historical character who, from his documented letters and actions, was astoundingly egalitarian for a noble of his day. And I can't make this stand out much, because the modern reader assumes that's just as he should be. :rolleyes: [/quote]

Past societies were certainly a good deal more place conscious. You tugged your forelock to the higher, and naturally snapped your fingers at the lower. But, as you say, that went along with a sense of paternal responsibility, and with legal restrictions. Modern slavery is something else entirely.

Here in South Africa black maids are still a social institution, but it's become a more relaxed and informal setup. I always call our maid 'Medem'.
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lauragill
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Post by lauragill » Mon March 12th, 2012, 8:31 pm

My pet peeve is self-published authors who can't take criticism regarding typos, weak plotting, etc, and insist that their work is brilliant, that naysayers are either haters or "just don't get it." If you have to explain it to me in a separate post, you didn't do your job as an author. I WANT readers to give me feedback, because I WILL listen and take a second look at a project. Fan fiction writers can be horrible about it, because they're used to having other fans gush over their work. Original writing is NOT that easy.

Plagiarism in all forms, and then denying it when the author calls them on it. No, it was NOT a coincidence. Don't play that game with me. I used to be a high school English teacher, and that excuse didn't float when my students tried it, either. (Yes, this recently happened to me, so I am peeved about it.)

Sockpuppets on Amazon forums. Dishonesty is a bad way to start your writing career. Don't insult my intelligence. Seriously. Just don't do it.
Last edited by lauragill on Mon March 12th, 2012, 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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