Sunday, January 11, 2015

Historical Romance

THE SCORE SHEET
~ SPECIFIC SECTION

Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve only been in the business 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind. Thanks, Angi

~If you have an additional question regarding your specific category, please send it directly to GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Some of the explanations are the same for general questions which require some expected knowledge of the sub-genre. If you require a more in-depth definition of the genre...please send an email for additional information. Additional resources are being posted this week.


~For your convenience we’ve included a description of each category as described on our FINAL EDITORS page.


PLEASE NOTE: Historical judges received entries on Saturday 1/10

*HISTORICAL ROMANCE*
Romantic novels with non-contemporary settings, including regency & gothic romances. An example is the 2014 RWA RITA winner: NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED by Sarah MacLean.

SPECIFIC TO THE HISTORICAL CATEGORY
Possible 20 point total to award, 5 points per question
        Do the protagonists act appropriately for the time period? If not, has their difference been noted in the manuscript (i.e.: The heroine may be deliberately outspoken.)
        Is the historical information provided pertinent to the story?        
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?
        Does the author capture the tone of a historical romance without overwhelming the reader with historical phrasing?

Breaking Down the Questions
        Do the protagonists act appropriately for the time period? If not, has their difference been noted in the manuscript (i.e.: The heroine may be deliberately outspoken.)     
Dialogue in historical romances has been modernized a bit, but there are words that will draw the reader directly out of the story. OK is that word for me. (In case you’re wondering when its use began.) Movie or book, it jerks me back to modern civilization. Some words may be modern, but not have that effect on you. The reader must decide if a heroine in 1776 is going to be afraid of a gun during the American Revolution. It would depend on her circumstances. (Or it depends on the story.) As long as the author is providing the appropriate back story and circumstances…anything goes.
        Is the historical information provided pertinent to the story?            
Writing an accurate historical romance is challenging all on its own. Then there’s the fine balance of interesting setting and description that can challenge the best paced book.  When is the balance perfect? When readers don’t skip ahead or feel like they’re getting a history lesson. But even historical readers know when the setting may be pertinent and when it may be filler. As with any manuscript, there needs to be a reason the setting is being described. It needs to fit in the story.
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?
As with any length and any sub-genre of romance, the secondary characters must have a purpose in the scene. One point to watch out for is if they’re info-dumping. Now, a second character in the room is the perfect way to give the reader information without the POV character just thinking about it. Dialogue is always better (in my humble opinion). A dialogue (or mental note that the secondary character is talking a lot LOL) gives purpose and makes the character necessary.
        Does the author capture the tone of a historical romance without overwhelming the reader with historical phrasing?
Tone. If you don’t read several types of romance, this question may be a mystery to you. Please contact the coordinator for help. But each type and length of a historical romance has its own feel. It’s what a reader would expect when picking up a book not only on a designated/tagged bookshelf, but also by an author.

A WORD OF CAUTION
Many judges of historical romance are writers of historical romance. And many of them know a lot about history. There is a strong temptation to correct an apparent historical inaccuracy. PLEASE do not simply assume that you are correct and the contestant is wrong. If nothing else, a curt (or, worse, inaccurate) “correction” about history will cause the author to shut down and ignore all of your statements, advice, or opinions throughout the entire entry. If you really believe the author has made an historical error, look it up and provide the author with a reference ... and make the correction tactfully.

If you have specific questions regarding this section, please contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.
Additional help tips for this category may be available through the coordinator or on our blog.

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