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Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer's (& Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths [Third Edition] (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Susanne Alleyn

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This is not a book on how to write historical fiction. It is a book on how not to write historical fiction.

If you love history and you’re hard at work writing your first historical novel, but you’re wondering if your medieval Irishmen would live on potatoes, if your 17th-century pirate would use a revolver, or if your hero would be able to offer Marie-Antoinette a box of chocolate bonbons . . .

(The answer to all these is “Absolutely not!”)

. . . then Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders is the book for you.

Medieval Underpants will guide you through the factual mistakes that writers of historical fiction—both beginners and seasoned professionals—often make, and show you how to avoid them. From fictional characters crossing streets that wouldn’t exist for another sixty (or two thousand) years, to 1990s slang in the mouths of 1940s characters, to South American foods on ancient Roman plates, acclaimed historical novelist Susanne Alleyn exposes the often hilarious, always painful goofs that turn up most frequently in fiction set in the past.

Alleyn stresses the hazards to writers of assuming too much about details of life in past centuries, providing numerous examples of mistakes that could easily have been avoided. She also explores commonly-confused topics such as the important difference between pistols and revolvers, and between the British titles “Lord John Smith” and “John, Lord Smith” and why they’re not interchangeable, and provides simple guidelines for getting them right. In a wide assortment of chapters including Food and Plants; Travel; Guns; Money; Hygiene; Dialogue; Attitudes; Research; and, of course, Underpants, she offers tips on how to avoid errors and anachronisms while continually reminding writers of the necessity of meticulous historical research.

NEW third edition, revised and expanded
74,000 words — approximately 240 pages in print edition

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Susanne Alleyn has loved history all her life, aided and abetted by her grandmother, Lillie V. Albrecht, an author of historical children’s books in the 1950s and 60s. Happy to describe herself as an insufferable knowitall about historical trivia (although she lost on Jeopardy!), Susanne has been writing and researching historical fiction for nearly three decades. She is the author of the acclaimed Aristide Ravel French Revolution Mysteries; A Far Better Rest, the reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities; The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France, her latest novel, about Charles Sanson, executioner of Paris, who guillotined Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette; and A Tale of Two Cities: A Reader's Companion, an annotated edition of the classic novel.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1757 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 238 Seiten
  • Verlag: Spyderwort Press; Auflage: Third (11. Juni 2013)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00958628C
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #144.856 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

  •  Ist der Verkauf dieses Produkts für Sie nicht akzeptabel?

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Es gibt noch keine Kundenrezensionen auf
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  64 Rezensionen
33 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Must for Beginners, a Treat for All 8. September 2012
Von P. Herring - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Susanne Alleyn has done something all historical writers, fiction and nonfiction, should strive to do: she educates while entertaining.
Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders is a book packed with information that most writers of historicals will admit they should have read before beginning their careers. While trying to paint a picture of life in another time, we've all been caught in a blunder or two (one of mine was putting rhododendrons in the 1500s) The result is being chastised by a reader more tuned in to detail than ambiance.
It's frustrating and humbling.
Alleyn's approach is commendable. She doesn't gasp and sputter at errors (well, maybe a little at the really bad ones) with the arrogance of someone who thinks she's never made one. She admits to her own mistakes, cites possible reasons behind the mistakes of others (sometimes it makes a better story), and then gives helpful information on how to avoid errors in one's own work. Tons of material, all organized into easy chapters so readers/writers can look it up and get it right.
That's the other thing she recommends: look up everything. Don't assume you know because you read it in another novel or saw it in a movie.
The book is fun to read and an essential start for the beginning historical writer.
For those of us who've been at it a while, it's an entertaining reminder that we need to keep on researching. It's so easy, when the writing's going well, to slip a revolver, a cigar, or a handkerchief into the hand of someone who couldn't possibly have known what to do with it.
24 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Just the Thing to Make an Author Pull Up the Pants. 2. Oktober 2012
Von microfiche - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I wholeheartedly agree with the other reviewers' comments. This little book is a smart warning, covering the major blooper areas, and a fun read for historical fiction writers and readers. As an avid reader and history buff, I beg all historical novelists to read it.

Being a picky person, and because I work in a library (a place historical fiction writers should haunt), I was disappointed that 1) the author did not mention libraries as a resource (Archives, as primary source repositories, were indirectly implied. Take note of those valuable places, writers and researchers.)and 2) she did not impart a few lessons and tips on how to do research. Perhaps she believed it was a given that people who write know how to book, manuscript, map, ephemera, museum and web research and that they just don't do it. Or perhaps she knows that there are good instruction books on researching and did not want to re-invent the wheel. She just did not put them in the bibliography. The Craft of Research, Third Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), The Oxford Guide to Library Research, Searching and Researching on the Internet and the World Wide Web 5th Edition
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Historical fiction authors, do readers a favor and buy this book! 10. September 2012
Von slow thinker - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm an avid reader of historical fiction and, believe me, I have seen enough disturbing blunders in the genre. If you write historical fiction or, even more so, if you think of writing one, this book will prevent many embarrassments in the future. Nothing is more jarring than a picture of medieval knights eating potatoes or an 18th century character playing with a revolver. Remember, in historical fiction such details are important. Get them wrong and you'll lose readers. Well organized and written with humor, this book belongs on your reference shelf.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great tool 17. April 2013
Von Steve Bartholomew - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Both useful and amusing. As an author myself of historical novels, I have often perspired over the problem of getting historical details correct. I have also been guilty of nitpicking other writers over their mistakes. Recently I read a novel which takes place in ancient Egypt, 1300 BC. The character uses the phrase "the seconds were ticking away." In those days they didn't have clocks that ticked, nor could they measure seconds. The sort of error I try to avoid, in order not to get a red face. I especially appreciate Alleyn's discussion of period slang and figures of speech. To me, an historical novel is not history, but it should express an appreciation of history. We can't do that unless we get it right.

Steve Bartholomew, author of "The Woodcutter" and others.
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen HF Writers, Ignore This Book at Your Peril! 6. Januar 2013
Von The Just-About-Average Ms. M - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Required Reading!

On a whim I downloaded this to my Kindle this morning, about the time I poured my second cup of coffee. I finished it before dinner, celebrating my wonderful new find with a glass of champagne--the French kind, not whatever that is which comes from California. This little primer of how to write historical fiction [HF] should be required reading for anyone who even contemplates producing a work of HF, and most certainly for any author with a work in progress. It is, alas, too late to benefit some authors who have already launched their work, but if they plan to continue to write, they should read this before they write another word.

I had been plowing--no other word for it!--my way through the sixth entry on my list of The Worst HF Set during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Eras Ever Published in any Format, and I was pretty depressed. Why not, when I'd had to contend with a French heroine named Verity, a misnamed and mischaracterized empress, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette as saints--really!--and famous Jacobins unrecognizable beneath their cardboard caricatures. All of this nonsense plus truly bad French, a list of anachronisms that were as long as the Third Estates' cahiers de doléances--one 1793 character actually said "Oops!" while drinking absinthe--and some magnificently howling historical inaccuracies.

Ms. Alleyn has made the job of writing good HF easy in a three word mantra: Look it up! She also points out the pitfalls of relying on questionable source material--or none at all--and relying on other authors who write HF, thus compounding the errors. One would think her admonitions and suggestions largely unnecessary, but they are instead absolutely, positively necessary.

So do yourself a favor and read this gem of a book, and laugh while you learn. Above all, I recommend it for the sanity of all the readers out there who would really like to have some decent HF to read.
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