Frederica and the twenty first century


Written on Sunday, January 25, 2009 by haleigh

Monday, January 26th

So one part of my upcoming classes is to critically examine other books within the genre. Last week I read Frederica, and while it wasn't technically on my list of books to examine, there were bits which intrigued me.

So Frederica was published by Gerogette Heyer in 1965, and kicked off the modern romance genre. It reads much like classical literature, rather than books which are published by today's standards. For instance, every instance of dialog was followed by an exclamation point.

Don't pick on the dog, Felix! I won't, Frederica!

And then there were the dialog tags. Oh, the dialog tags. Not only were there explanations and adverbs, Heyer didn't follow the "said and said only" rule. Not even close.

"You don't say!" exclaimed the Duke. "Oh yes!" shouted Frederica.

And then it got worse. On four occasions - four! - the dialog tag was......wait for it......ejaculated. That's right, the Duke ejaculated his praise. "My Lord!" ejaculated the Duke. Seriously. He ejaculated.

So there were things about this book which clearly, would not be acceptable by today's standards. And Heyer broke other cardinal rules too. She wrote entirely in omniscient pov, and switched between people's heads as fast as she changed paragraphs. Hell, she even dipped into the dog's pov once!

And there was no showing going on in this novel - only telling.

So here's the weird thing. There was no pov depth, and I was told everything instead of shown. And there was a lot of words being ejaculated. But still, I could not put down this book. I loved it. The agnst was phenomonal, and my heart broke over and over for these characters, only to be perfectly taped back together.

I have no idea how Heyer accomplished this, as it's been drilled into my head that they only way to convey emotion is to show it, with the necessary deep pov. But she accomplished it. I guess it goes to show that in the hands of a very talented author, any rule can be broken. And telling, while not as strong or effective as showing, can work if used correctly.

Anybody else have a book that broke all the rules, but you loved it anyway?

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  1. Jessica |

    I probably do have books like that but I read them before I was a "writer" so I didn't realize the rules were broken.
    Rules, schmules.
    The main thing is to get the job done and write an awesome story. And this can be done all sorts of ways.
    btw, you almost made me choke on my cookie dough when you wrote about ejaculation.

  2. haleigh |

    It is much harder to just enjoy a book now, after writing so much, isn't it?

    I agree, rules can be broken, as long as it's done well :) (now I just have to figure out the "well" part of that equation!)

  3. Kelly Krysten |

    Okay...are you sure that the ejaculation wasn't actual I mean saying 'My Lord' at the time of ejaculation sounds very much like a proper historical era exclamation from a person.LOL!
    Sorry I totally went there!!

    Hmmmmm...books that break the rules? I can't really think of any. And to be perfectly honest...I usually just don't notice. People later tell me all of the errors and I'm like, Huh?

    So, yeah, I have no

  4. haleigh |

    Hi Kelly! "My Lord" would fit the time period in terms of, um, responses, wouldn't it? LMAO! But no, I'm sure it wasn't *actual* ejaculation. They didn't even kiss!

    I think that's great you can still read just to read - I've gotten so critical I struggle to just enjoy a story anymore, which I find sad, because I adore reading.


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