My first day of Book in a Week went pretty well, with a little more than 6,000 words for the day. I’m going to try to top that today.
Meanwhile, in reading, I suppose I’ve been on a Regency kick, reading Jane Austen and other books set during that period. There was Sorcerer to the Crown, then I read a modern author’s sequel to Sense and Sensibility (about Margaret when she’s grown up), and now I’m reading a Georgette Heyer book from the To Be Read shelf.
One thing I’m finding interesting is that the actual Austen was easier to get through than the modern books set in that time. The language is more florid than in most of our modern literature, but it’s still simpler and more straightforward than the modern books that are trying to imitate that style. I suspect it’s because the more modern authors are attempting “worldbuilding” in re-creating a time and place they aren’t actually experienced with. They’re trying to mimic the style of the time. Austen was just writing contemporary books without trying to build anything. She was writing about her own time and place, using the language she used in everyday life.
I think another difference with the Heyer may be that she’s writing about a different kind of people. Austen focused on the country gentry while Heyer tends to deal with the titled nobility, those who go to London for the Season, and all that. She’s trying to use the flash slang of the upper class. In the book I’m reading (Cousin Kate) she’s also dealing with a heroine who’s the daughter of a soldier and who grew up around the military, so she’s picked up a lot of that slang. And then there are the lower-class characters who use their slang. I’m having to practically translate as I read. I can’t help but wonder quite how accurate her use of language is — does it really come from the period, or is she making up something to give an impression?
The straightforward language may be one reason Austen is still so widely read today. It’s a bit more difficult than reading modern books, but it’s not as though it’s almost a foreign language.
When I write in historical-type settings (whether alternate history or another world in a period similar to our history), I try to do just enough to give a sense of flavor without making it hard to decipher. I don’t want my language to throw anyone out of the story.