Sunday, 29 April 2012

There's a trouble with language.  Especially with historical crime fiction.

When a story is set in a historical period, there are two things that authors have been given the "warning" about. 
Firstly it's anachronisms.  These are easy to make and the first thing that critics select to criticise.  You don't want the errors - obvious when pointed out - that come from bad research.  To put it bluntly, you don't want a Roman to receive a telegram!  Anachronisms like this are a bummer and, when you spot 'em, they're difficult to get past.  Then again, a good author - who's done their research - shouldn't fall at this hurdle.  Let's face it, if you want to write a novel set in a historical period then you should know, at least in part, the setting in which you write.

The second "warning" given to authors is about "voice" and this is where I must nail my colours to the mast.

We look at history.  We - hopefully - know (roughly) what went on.  We are - I assume - intelligent folk.  Thus do we honestly expect an Elisabethan character NOT to swear, using a ... ahem ... base phrase such as "He couldn't give a fuck!"?  Now, I don't want to get into the derivatives of swearing but the use of such in writing a believable work of fiction is important.
We, as readers, are made to enter a past time - a past life, if you prefer.  We swear (as much as we'd like to think we don't) and so we must assume that our ancestors did too.

People are people.  Around the world and, I think, obviously throughout the years.  We use phrases, expressions, idioms that (from the outside) sound nonsensical.  But, in the context of the world they live in, some phrases are perfectly understandable.


Literally, in Latin, this means "The wolf of the story".  The idea is that two people are gossiping and the subject of their gossip walks in, restricting further tales.  One says "Ah, here is The Wolf of The Story!"  The language and setting is "foreign" - Latin - but the phrase and the concept is easy.
So why is it so hard for "purists" to not baulk against slang or "less than classical"?  Do they want writing to be set in Roman times and the characters sound like Shakespeare on his most priggish?  Our playwrights - while clever - were writing plays.  They were not writing verbatim what was said.  If, say, the hero Leander turned around and said "I've got to go to the privvy!" it's not what would've been recorded.  This was not real - this was manufactured.
So where does this leave us with our modern interpretation?  Should authors only use phrases or idiom only "found" for that period or can it be assumed - in my own interpretation - that "native" phrases can replace that which is read?

   Where an author writes (a quote):  "How  else would  you describe something that waits for the perfect psychological moment and then pisses all over your living-room floor?  Jupiter, even a Gallic wolfhound wouldn't do this much damage.  For a parallel you'd need to go the length of a fucking elephant."

Firstly - just because we're not with the idea that a Roman ( of Tiberius' reign) would use the phrase "psychological", doesn't mean they couldn't have the concept.
Secondly - Using phrases such as "pissing" and "fucking" were perhaps not polite but used.
Thirdly - There is a lot of evidence to show that the Romans used Gallic Wolfhounds, now known as Irish Wolfhounds.  As an owner of one, I can attest that they can - in play - cause a lot of damage to furniture and so on.

Thus, the above quote - while sounding too modern - is, actually, perfectly acceptable.  Apart from those who  think all Romans should talk like great orators.  Who need to get out more.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Ho hum!  In the midst of drought, the Nottingham desert is blessed with several inches of rain ... each day.  Here in my secret lair I can hear it gently drumming on the roof; a sound I find quite calming and cosy.
Trouble is, the business of dog treats is going so well we're having to move to larger premises - while continuing sales, markets and so on.  My "speciality" is fitting out the new business unit and arranging everything - we should be able to even do over-the-counter sales!  This, of course, will restrict my Facebook presence ... er ... writing and reading time.  But I shall soldier on!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

At last, "concrete" proof that my reading habit is actually good for me!
I was sent a link to a blog from Tim Handorf for the Best Colleges Online blog - the subject being "Your Brain on Books: 20 Proven Benefits of Being an Avid Reader". Linky-thing Here
I couldn't resist it - a list of benefits for avid reading!

They all sound pretty darned good to me!  As if I needed a reason anyway!

I'm off to some more brain improvement!

Friday, 6 April 2012

I'm a simple soul, me.  Anyone who knows me will tell you this.  Lately, I've found the "arrows of outrageous misfortune" pretty uncomfortable, I can tell you.  What with an expected yet inflated bill concerning the car (which we need for our work), more vet bills - who can predict how much one's treasured pets will become ill?
Everyone (who isn't a multimillionaire) has been shafted in the latest Budget but, personally, what hurt was the "slight adjustment" of working tax credits.  Of course, this was useful to deflect any interest in the breakdown and sale of the UK's NHS public health service (which the multimillionaire PM's selling off to the friends he may - with discretion - entertain on premises paid for by the public), the complete "mission stasis" as opposed to "mission creep" of the national troops in Afghanistan and other, equally irrelevant warzones and the blatant self-interested cronyism encouraged by this Prime Minister who has no real contact, or relationship, with the general populace that is bound by his smug sales patter to various private companies he has school chums bidding for.
Financially the country is in a hole and those who might be forced to dig out the mess they created are being tickled and bribed (at public expense) with no real result.  Banks were bailed out and "politely asked" to circulate the extra funds (that we, the tax payer, are suffering having given) while the Bank's are blatantly restricting cash flow ... on the grounds that the current economic climate is not a good gamble.  Damnit, they made the current cash problem and are using it to perpetuate it!

Meanwhile I start to watch documentaries on the Wall Street crash of the '20's and wonder if the same hasn't happened but with a controlled, restricted press coverage.  After all, those who present us the news have investors and bills to pay too!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Well, I've finally updated my website for this month!  I have so many people looking on it, especially because of the competition, I wish it'd pay!  At least I've knuckled down and started offering advertising rates - I mean, considering the traffic on it, it's only fair!