Monday, October 12, 2009

Vive la différence!

By Jenna Byrnes

Passages from historical romance books and stories can be lyrical and beautiful. They can also make my eyes glaze over faster than someone reading to me from the Dow Jones Average. For some reason, I'm not big on historical stuff.

I don't care for the stilted speech. Hell, I can't understand some of it.

The stuffy clothing of the times doesn't suit me.

Flowery descriptive passages bore me to tears.

Elmore Leonard once said something about writing, and leaving out the parts people tend to skip. That's totally my philosophy.


The original LOL cat: 1905 cat postcard by Harry Whittier Frees


I know there are zillions of fans of historical romance, and plenty of people who are happy to write it. I think that's great. Different strokes, folks. I don't judge what anybody likes to read or write. I like gay erotic romance, some people might not. I prefer third person point of view over first person. Again, merely my preference. Different is good.

If we were all the same, I'd worry about a shortage of Little Debbie chocolate brownies. That could be bad.


  1. Hi, Jenna,

    Thanks for your honest, to-the-point assessment. Different strokes indeed!

    Do you like historical fiction in any genre?

    Love the kitty btw... I don't know where you dig this stuff up.


  2. Hi Lisabet,

    I do not like it on a boat. I do not like it with a goat. I do not like green eggs and--oops,I mean, historical fiction in any genre. *G*

    When I was a young woman I enjoyed Danielle Steel, but I'd never read her novels set overseas. I prefer contemporary stuff with fairly common locations. I know, sounds boring. But I'm a simple, Midwestern girl. LOL

    Thanks for commenting,

    ~ Jenna

  3. I enjoy some historical fict iona nd some I do not. I am really not fond of time travel but others are. There are so many different people inthis workd and that is why there are so many different forms of writing. If we all liked everything the same, it would be boring.

  4. Oh, do Get a Grip! Historical fiction doesn't have to be flowery or overly descriptive. I've read many that are right to the point in all departments, sexual scenes included. I've also read many contemporaries that have bored me to tears because I'm reading about *my present world* and I don't particularly find that thrilling.

    What's amazing about historicals is that they allow the reader to travel to another time and place simply by turning the pages. A good writer will leave the reader with a piece of history etched in her/his mind forever and possibly enlighten them about a portion of our past.

    I write contemporary and historical, so indeed, different strokes and all that. While contemporaries have their place in fiction, I find most of the plots remarkably similar, i.e., shiek this, having his baby that (and thus mundane.)

    I leave you with some very wise words that ring true. "If you don't know what happened in the past, you can't possibly know a thing about the future."

    It gets back to that *knowledge is power* thingie. Woe are those who don't know the history of our great country.

    Hugs, Keta

  5. Jenna,

    Telling it like it is :-) I can understand why you say you don't care for historical fiction. However, have you ever deliberately sought out any historical fiction from a time period that interests you on a personal level?

    Just curious ;-)


  6. Hi Jenna,

    I think Keta needs a slap. Just sayin' she's pretty mouthy up there. LOL

    Honestly, I'm with you to a very large degree and my post for tomorrow will sound much like yours. I've never been a huge historical fan. I don't have anything against it, I just prefer other genres.

    Vive la différence indeed!


  7. Hi Debby,

    You're so right, lots of people just love time travel. I'm glad there are books available to suit everyone's tastes! Thanks for popping in.

    ~ Jenna

  8. Hey Keta,

    Of course, there are as many types of historicals as there are contemporaries. I won't say I like all contemps either, it's not possible for one person to make such a claim. I've read some historicals and many of them have been wonderful, just not my cup of tea.

    I was a straight 'A' student, so I did all right in history. I continue to read and learn about lots of subjects. But when I read for pleasure I have certain things I prefer, and I have a pretty firm grip on that.

    *G* Thanks for commenting!

    ~ Jenna

  9. Hi Ashley,

    I'm busy enough that seeking out books in other than my preferred genres isn't high on my list. I'm a huge fan of contemporary romance and there are plenty of titles I've yet to get to.

    Actually, romantic suspense is my real favorite. And there doesn't even have to be a shiek or secret baby. LOL

    Thanks for commenting!

    ~ Jenna

  10. Hi Jude,

    Another thing we have in common. Thank Heavens! You know I'd have trouble editing your stuff if you wrote historicals.

    If you hold Keta down, I'll get a red marking pen and we can edit her a bit! LOL

    (Just kidding Keta!)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jude and family!

    ~ Jenna

  11. Hey, Jenna, Jude, no mouthiness intended.

    Since my love of history enters in here, I'm biased and admit it. I meant only to point out that there are good and bad books in all genres, historical included. Woodiwiss, for example, the *Queen* of historical is flowery and I don't care for that necessarily, but admire the inroads she paved. I've also seen many writers who try to capture the dialect of the time and fail. I think historical is much more taxing to write than contemporary. (and yes, I do write contemporary but only male/male).

    In fact, I just checked my enormous shelves of books and my file on downloads, and could not find ONE single contemporary I purchased. Like you with historicals, contemporary would be the last thing I'd choose given my druthers. Anything paranormal, futuristic, sci-fi, even horror would come before contemporary for me.

    I've just seen to many blurbs and excerpts in this genre that could have been used for so many titles. The themes, characters and plots are oh, so similar to the point of B-O-R-I-N-G.

    Again, no nastiness intended. Thank goodness we all have different tastes.


  12. I'm with Keta here in that I prefer historical fiction over contemporary. I can write contemporary, and in fact enjoy writing contemporary fiction when I do it, but I do not read it. For some reason, this is especially true of mysteries. Aside from Sue Grafton, I won't read contemporary mystery authors, but if a mystery is set in Medieval England or turn-of-the-century Egypt or ancient Rome, I'm there.

  13. Except for mysteries, I don't generally like contemporaries... and I'm getting really tired of even contemp mysteries where the author slaps in a load of brand names as a substitute for character development. If I want product placement, I'll watch a movie.

    I was just wondering... since you seem so averse to historicals, WHY did you bother blogging on historicals just to gripe about what you don't like (and demonstrate that you haven't read many, because what you object to really isn't universal.) I couldn't imagine taking the time to blog about "I hate syrupy inspirationals" or "I can't stand the way vamp erotica tries to pretend that an animated corpse is sexay..." Just... why bother?

  14. Hello Lee,

    On this blog, each of the six authors rotates choosing a weekly a topic. We each post on that topic on our scheduled day. Saturday we invite a guest blogger to discuss the same topic.

    Obviously not every topic is going to be of interest to each author, but we do the best we can. Actually, I was going for humor instead of griping. Guess that fell flat! LOL

    ~ Jenna


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