I recently sent my book off to a very experienced and qualified friend to do some copyediting for me. She did a fantastic job, and I have a lot of tedious work ahead of me. However, she also saw fit to comment on, and ask questions about, a good amount of content. Now, I don’t mind answering questions, but I didn’t really feel she was asking in order to learn something. She was asking because she thought I might be wrong about something. At least, that’s how it felt. Of course I’m not discounting the fact that I could just be overly sensitive.
Now, I write in a very specific time period. The Regency era was short and had a great deal of its own terminology. It would be like someone writing a 1980s novel 200 years from now. They might not be familiar with terms like “Radical!” or “Narly, dude!” However, someone who read in the genre would know these things, and if the author put in explanations of terms, words, etc…, that reader would feel like they were info-dumping all over the place.
I suppose I take it for granted, since I’ve been reading Regency for so long, that not everyone knows the terminology. But at the same time, when I started reading the genre, I read it in front of a dictionary or encyclopedia. I had to. I loved the stories; I just didn’t know all the words. Did I ever fault the author for not explaining what the ton was or why the heroine carried a reticule instead of a purse? Of course not! I saw it as an opportunity to learn something I hadn’t known before.
I do get frustrated when typically non-Regency readers ask me questions like this. I want to say, “Don’t you know how to type in www.dictionary.com?” But maybe I’m the odd one and maybe I’m being too hard on people.
What do you think? Am I the odd man out, or do you share my frustration? Do you take the initiative when you come across a word or term you don’t know and look it up? Or do you ignore it and move on?
Jerrica Knight-Catania is the author of A Gentleman Never Tells, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing!