How NOT to write a historical romance…or any book for that matter.

ImageEarlier today I finished reading a historical romance set during the Regency period. And I hated it. I usually only discuss books that I enjoy–I believe in supporting other writers, especially if I enjoy their books. I am not going to name the book or the author. I will just say it was one of the most poorly written historical novels I’ve ever read. 

So what bugged me about this book? I’ll give you the short version of the list–the top ten things that pissed me off while reading. I am still amazed I even forced myself to finish reading it.

  1. There was no sense of place. The descriptions were so flat. It made me feel like the person writing it had never even seen pictures of London or the English countryside. 
  2. The characters were all talking heads. And you could barely tell them apart. A little description helps. Give me an idea of where the character is in a room, tell me some distinguishing feature they have. Hell, make them sound different!
  3. Get your colloquialisms right. For instance, a peer of the realm in 1811 should not use modern-day Americanisms. I cannot imagine a duke in 1811 saying “You know, I’m down with that.” And neither can you.
  4. Know your historical period. If you’re going to set a novel during the Regency period, you should at least mention the political uncertainty…yet in this book no one seemed concerned about King George III or his son, the Prince of Wales, taking over as regent…no one mentioned the royal family at all–and yet all of the characters were supposed to be part of the upper echelons of British society. And not a word was mentioned of the Peninsular War…very strange.
  5. Do not use flashbacks to over-explain. I don’t need five+ pages of a rambling flashback that goes nowhere and adds nothing to the story. 
  6. Too many coincidences spoil a story. And pisses off your reader.
  7. Please, don’t add sex scenes that read like something out of a sex education textbook. If you really must add one, then read a bit of well-written erotica first to get some ideas.
  8. Brooding heroes only work when they have something worth brooding over. Otherwise they are just jerks. And the hero of this book was a Grade-A jerk.
  9. Stop head-hopping! If you are going to have more than one point-of-view character in a chapter, it helps to start a new paragraph so the reader can tell we are in someone else’s head. 
  10. Overusing the word “beautiful”. There are so many other words that could be used to describe a person’s attractiveness. Just check out visualthesaurus.com for ideas. 

Okay, that is my rant for today. I am heading to the US on Monday and will report back to you with details of my book buying bonanza and the winners of The Circle giveaway. You still have time to enter–next Friday–24 August–is the last day to send me details of your spookiest experience ever. 🙂 I’ve already got a few good entries…:)

6 thoughts on “How NOT to write a historical romance…or any book for that matter.

  1. would have been nice to know that this book was on the best-seller list or…more probably not?! Anyway, I enjoyed this gloves off review, was only glad that on this occasion I wasn’t the author!

    • Weirdly enough this book was on the bestseller’s list for historical romance. I didn’t want to mention the author or the title simply because I prefer to keep my review page about recommending books I enjoy. I just couldn’t understand how a book that supposedly went through the editing process and was published by a major publishing company could be published in such a lousy state. Well, it just confirms a lot of what has been said about traditional publishing companies.

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