The Howl of the Weather,
Remington Art Memorial,
Ogdensburg, New York.
I can hear the snow plows grumbling along the street.
After I post I will have to gird myself in woollies and thinsulate and break out the snow shovel to clear our walk and drive.
In a storm of comments on historical novels over the weekend at Dear Author, one comment stuck up from the snow drifts like the handle of a snow shovel ( see above.)
The poster wondered how writers could best deal with the expectation of common ignorance.
I've often wondered about that, but have never been able to sum up the syndrome in such a succinct phrase.
Let me assert that "ignorance" was clearly meant in the context of the simple lack of information -- the urban legend sort that results in a common and erroneous acceptance of, and assumptions about, historical material -- and did not suggest stupidity.
The weight of swords and other hackers and stabbers was cited as one example.
Some wondered if it is better to play to the the air of authenticity in a historical romance as separate from strict (and possibly footnoted) accuracy demanded of a straight historical novel; and where does that division become a question of semantics.
If one writes to an audience who desire an escapist fantasy rather than a history lesson, does it matter how you split the hares on the lord's table?
I prefer accuracy myself, but that's a personal taste. I can still enjoy a well-told story even if some details may make me wince.
Writers cannot hope to persuade those readers who snort and throw books about when their understanding/perception of facts and events collides with yours. Especially if they do not publically reproach you for your errors, real or otherwise.
Should they challenge you, your research notes are your defence, but I don't think it's a good idea to imply that readers are stupid because their information does not coincide with yours. Or dismiss their objection(s) as unimportant.
Someone mentioned that this problem arises in contemporary stories as often as it does in historical romances.
I can understand reader irritation regarding an incorrect building situated on the NW corner of Holywood and Vine -- even though a reader who has never been there won't give a hoot.
But I wonder if there are more general and current misconceptions floating about to trip up a writer -- a kind of informational prejudice.
Since my WIP features ghosts and apparations as substantial shapes, perhaps I am wise to describe it as an urban fantasy, rather than romantic suspense, based on the simple assumption that many readers may automatically picture ghosts as whispy, drifty, foggy thingies that go woooo.