Does historical accuracy really matter?

carriageI was down much of this week due to a stomach bug, but I’ve had a great time catching up today.  What an interesting week we’ve had at the Riskies!

Diane started out with Real Research? a discussion of whether it’s OK to base one’s research on that of popular authors in your genre. Then Amanda posted on Real Things (objects from Jane Austen’s life), Carolyn posted an Interview with Susan Broadwater of the Regency Library and Janet brought us the fascinating story of Anne Lister in Same Sex Marriage, 1834.

Diane’s original post reminded me of a recent writers’ loop discussion of historical accuracy. Some people were shocked when I put forward my belief that HISTORICAL ACCURACY IS NOT IMPORTANT when it comes to having a successful career writing Regency era romance.

I’ve read enough bestsellers, RITA finalists and even RITA winners in the genre that include errors of title usage, people traveling from London to Cornwall in the matter of a few hours, horses galloping for hundreds of miles without dropping dead, etc… to know this is true. Their popularity proves that there are vast numbers of romance readers out there who don’t care much about such things.

I don’t even mean this as a criticism of these authors. Not at all. Their popularity proves that they are consummate professionals. They are providing good entertainment for their loyal readers, they are supporting themselves, putting their kids through college, etc… All things I want to do. And they’re doing it by writing good STORIES.

The lesson I take away is that the story (in this case, the romance) comes first.

Does this mean I don’t research any more? Not at all, for several reasons. First, why annoy the smaller percentage of readers who are knowledgeable enough to be annoyed by things that can be checked relatively easily?

But the main reason I research is because it’s part of my process. It helps ME write MY stories. I have never gotten reader mail complimenting me on my meticulous research (and heck, I make mistakes too). But I have gotten mail and reviews saying my stories were a bit different, in a good way.

The point is, research inspires me.

I’m feeling more inspired this week, having added some books to my TBR list and resolved to subscribe to the Regency Library!

What inspires you?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
This entry was posted in Research, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Does historical accuracy really matter?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.