The Use of Language
Hello again to all of you Soul Mate Publishing readers and new friends. Thanks for sharing a little of your precious time with me today. For the new readers, I write historical romance with a twist of suspense, mostly Regency, Victorian, and my latest is a historical western. I have four published, After She Became a Lady, Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman, A Lady’s Vanishing Choices, and An Enduring Love. The historical western Bittersweep is set for release May 30, 2018.
Together we have explored the different aspects of writing from how to set a scene, characteristics of a hero, a heroine, even a villain all the way to world building. We discussed many other subjects as well. Today, I would like to discuss word usage.
The language back in historical Regency and Victorian period was much different from today. I have discovered not all readers appreciate the difference. Some have even complained about the complicated, or rather, the unfamiliar language usage. I now do my best to explain my references to today’s reader.
Example from An Enduring Love
“If you were certain of that, why did you let me bring her to Wakefield when you knew I wanted to be alone with Rebecca?”
With a sheepish grin, William shrugged. “I met the foot-soldier while gathering information for you. Until that moment, I didn’t realize he can barely speak the King’s English. Not much in the way of education there. Little sister may be dazzled by a jack-a-dandy uniform, but she expects more in a mate.”
“That girl is apt to drive me crazed, but if you’re certain, I will return to London as soon as Rebecca is fully recovered. I have a couple of friends, both Observing Officers sent behind enemy lines because both are very capable of ferreting out information. If we put our heads together, we should be able to solve this mystery.”
William raised his brows. “Why Observing Officers? Why not spies?”
“They wore uniforms behind enemy lines so ‘spy’ did not apply. Brave souls all. I must return to London so I’ll be at the heart of the situation and in contact with seasoned investigators.” Possibly he could pick up a lead at one of his clubs—White’s perhaps.
The rank of Observing Officers is new to today’s readers, thus the explanation. I failed in the first of my books, particularly in Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman. I thought everyone knew all about the Regency period. Wow, I was a completely uninformed hopeful author at that time. To my cost, it has taken me a few years to learn that valuable lesson. Simply because the author is aware of a certain thing does not mean the reader knows of it. If the author is in the scene internally, does he or she pass the knowledge to the reader?
The descriptions of the Regency era are necessarily different from the historical western view as you will witness below.
Rebecca wasn’t looking forward to the ball however, she adored her new frock. She held the gown of patterned crepe in the deepest shade of green against her body. The high waist, complimented by a ribbon of velvet, would emphasize her bosom to perfection and the flounce at the hem added distinction to the creation. Glancing into the mirror, she decided the gown was all she could have wished, and she stroked the material as she laid the garment across the bed. Rebecca wanted her appearance to be perfect for her husband at the ball.
For whatever reason, parliament and politics were all important to him. She’d learned of his deep interest in politics in bits and pieces, usually from something he let slip. Tonight, she would meet the people he most wanted to impress, members of parliament and the political establishment.
Although she shared his bed, occasionally she doubted they would ever grow as close as first love again. He never discussed his deepest thoughts with her as had been his want in Latvia. Rebecca rolled her lips inward and curled her fingers. Of course that had been more than four years ago. Now he was a mature man with full responsibilities for not only his son and wife, but the entire family.
She sighed and called for her maid. Little more than two hours later, she descended the stairs. Rhys stood in the hall below gazing up at her, his eyes filled with gratifying admiration. More pleased than she could say, Rebecca beamed at him.
He presented his arm and led her to the carriage. This was the first time since her arrival she and her husband would attend a gathering without his mother and sister. She studied Rhys dressed to the nines in a finely tailored gray jacket and buff trousers. His cravat, tied to perfection, was snowy white against his tanned complexion. The faint spice scent he wore floated to her. This honorable, handsome man was her husband and pride washed over her. He would set every female heart aflutter tonight including her own.
Rebecca entered the Lethebridge’s establishment on Rhys’ arm. She glanced at the host a little apprehensively. “Rhys, who is that lady and gentleman standing next to Lord Lethebridge?”
A little above a whisper, he answered, “The lady is Lord Lethebridge’s sister, and I believe the young gentleman to be his grandson. I’m not positive of that, however.”
They were next to be greeted by Lord Lethebridge. He nodded to Rhys. “Sudduth.” Then his entire attention shifted to Rebecca. Lord Lethebridge caught his breath and stared. “You resemble my Anna.”
Rebecca laughed nervously. “Anna was my mother’s name. It is said that I am much like her in appearance.”
“Anna,” Lord Lethebridge croaked and his face crumpled for a second. He firmed his lips and blinked.
“Ed, what on earth…” the lady beside him demanded then gasped. “Anna come to life.”
“My granddaughter,” Lord Lethebridge whispered.
Whatever the author is trying to convey, there is a question. Did the author actually write what was apparent to him/her? A good critique partner can often ask that very question. ‘What did you mean by that?’
There is quite a difference in the Regency books and the historical western. I don’t have a cover for Bittersweep yet, but here is a short excerpt:
After fifteen years, can I find my mother’s box? Can I remember exactly where she tucked the chest away? I was only five. Will her box still be there, hidden, or will it be destroyed?
Elizabeth Campbell peered out the window of the passenger car as the locomotive puffed into the station at Bittersweep, Texas belching ash from the smokestack. The train came to a screeching halt beside the station. She folded the newspaper dated August 10, 1897 and positioned it under her arm slowly rising from her seat. Drawing a deep breath, she curled her fingers around the handle of her carpetbag. Tension bunched her neck and shoulder muscles as she stepped out onto the wooden platform.
The warm mid-day sun of late summer washed the scene in heat and vivid light, but did nothing to lessen the dark apprehension or the pain in her heart. Perhaps I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t want to return, but I’m back. I need this teaching position, desperately.
She followed her shadow into the shade afforded by the overhang of the roof to the train station’s ticket office. At least I may have a chance to discover what really happened all those years ago.
Allowing her gaze to survey the little settlement nestled deep in the piney woods of East Texas, she found much had changed. The sleepy community had grown into a small township. The once familiar dry dust kicked up by horses’ hooves, the creak of saddle leather, the rumble of wagon wheels rolling past, and boots tramping along the boardwalk remained relatively the same, only more so—more of everything—noise, people, and shops. Faint odors of roasting meat floated out from the inn dining room across the street and pummeled her with memories. Memories she couldn’t shake. Memories were one of the reasons she’d been afraid to return to Bittersweep. Still, now that she had returned, she must find answers.
Tormenting glimpses from fifteen years ago flashed inside her head. The sounds of crackling, consuming fire and the acrid smell of smoke rising above the trees from where her home once stood roared through her mind. The noise of rattling wheels beneath the wagon carrying her away from Bittersweep ripped through her memories dragging her back into the past. Her stomach knotted and she fought down the need to heave up the few bites of apple she’d eaten on the train. She swallowed forcing herself to relax.
Conscious of her long hair flowing down her back in waves, always admired for the shiny thickness and rich dark color, she ducked her head. Elizabeth hoped nobody remembered the larkspur blue color of her eyes, a dead give-away as to her identity. After fifteen years, none would recall a five-year old child. She avoided direct eye contact with the people on the walkway to cover the trepidation roaming free in her heart.
Although from here she couldn’t possibly see where her home once stood, she avoided looking to the South. An overwhelming urge to gaze in that direction finally claimed her, and she stepped off the platform coming to a dead-still stop. Lost in memories, she stared at the distant trees. For a brief moment, the noise faded, smells ceased to exist for her, and even the heat failed to penetrate. Tremors of pounding hooves vibrated through her feet coming closer and harder until the rattling of wagon wheels jerked her out of her reverie with a start, but in that confused instant she couldn’t move. The hammering of her heart obliterated all sounds again and the air swooshed from her lungs when she saw the out-of-control team bearing down on her. She tried to move out-of-the-way, but she remained paralyzed with fright.
Gloved hands grasped her shoulders jerking her back against a hard, lean body as the crazed horses stampeded past. Weak with relief and trembling from head to toe, she gradually gained control enough to realize she rested against a muscled male chest. The pounding of his heart echoed in her ears and against her back matching the rapid beat of her own. She glanced over her shoulder and looked up—way up into his hazel eyes, grim, hard and sparking with cold anger.
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