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Thread: Modern ways in a Medieval Time...

  1. #1

    Question Modern ways in a Medieval Time...

    Hey everyone! I'm in the process of writing a novel at the time and I've been working on it for a good two years. Everything has been flowing naturally from ideas that have been popping into my head right and left. The characters are considerably well thought out and the plot is fairly captivating in my personal opinion but upon reading back in it something caught my eye that I'm not sure could be taken as a riff or not.

    The setting, place, and time is all Medieval. A somewhat Feudal era with small villages, old worldly occupations, well developed chivalry, manners, and old fashioned ways of thinking. Events and things exist that don't seem as prevalent and well accepted in today's 'typical' society such as arranged marriages, dowries, metal and blacksmithing jobs, and aged methods of fighting, elemental ability magic and swords and spears for weaponry. The setting and style of the story seems to heavily embedded into the time period that it would be considered nigh impossible to revamp to such an extent.

    Yet, when I've read back through some of the work I've noticed something that I can't decide my own thoughts on yet. The dialogue used by some of the characters as well as some words to describe specific concepts are very... modern. Naturally, I've been born and bred into a typical modern life. These words and expressions are things I don't even think about as I'm writing them down yet when I think about it they aren't necessarily things that would be often heard in the old world time period.

    In short, and stepping away from the backstory for a moment, is it unacceptable to use modern words and phrases in description and character dialogue when the setting of the story is ingrained in the Medieval lifestyle? If so, is there any ways of remedying that problem without going so far as to modernize the story since I don't have the extensive knowledge of the required phrases and descriptions of concepts from back then. Let me know your thoughts, please!

  2. #2
    Registered User Three Sparrows's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Hique et ubique?
    I don't find it exactly 'unacceptable', it might actually be interesting. you could take a hint from Sir Walter Scott and in the conversation use words like thee and thou sometimes. Dialect from a different time is difficult, but I think you can make it work, as medieval with a hint of modernism, maybe. I am sorry I am not much help, but I rather like the idea of a modern person trying to write about a time that was seven hundred years ago. Keep trying.
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    All things both great and small;
    For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all.

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  3. #3
    pessimist more or less Veva's Avatar
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    well one of the hints that Chuck Palahniuk once gave out on his blog, was to listen to people, just to listen to the way they talk and then write it down that way. But I guess that it would be a problem for you. But, what you should do, is that try to watch some films and read some books. I would suggest that you try Geoffrey Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales.
    Stop asking where is God and keep asking where the hell is human!

  4. #4
    Registered User balehead's Avatar
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    I think that it's fine to have modern day speech, seeing as a lot of people I know wouldn't be able to get drawn into a world where they weren't entirely sure what was being said.
    What age group is your book aimed at? I'm commenting from the opinion of someone who reads adult fantasy and teen fiction, and the book which you are describing (everything medievil and true to history except the speech) sounds like it would be quite popular.
    I doubt that it would attract many readers if it was written in old english, because people won't be able to connect with it. I know that I love reading Shakespeare etc. but would not be put off by modern English within old-style setting.
    I was wondering if you could post part of your work, so it would be possible to see if it flows with the story??

    Anyway, if you wrote it in old-style I'm sure that it wouldn't fit with your writing style. My question is: do you write as they would have back then? I'm sure you don't.

    I repeat that I think your book would be better with modern english, mainly because no-one will be deterred from reading it if it is in modern, but many will avoid it if the characters speak in old-style english.

    hope that was helpful
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  5. #5
    Very helpful comments, thank you all!
    As for some of the questions you posed, my book is most certainly aimed for an older audience, adults, /maybe/ some teenagers... But the theme as well as specific events are rather 'mature' I suppose is the term. As for posting an excerpt from it I'd be more than happy to I would assume though as I'm a bit new to this site I wouldn't know exactly where to do such a thing.
    It really is a fine line and I can tell that. No, I don't write in the way they would have back then so part of me sees that if I were to try and make the characters speak that way that it would do nothing but distract from the story and the characters. The plot is very character driven as its revolved around emotion and the reactions the character have from the conflicts of the novel. I can see that if they were to speak from an entirely different time period as the rest of my writing it would confuse readers. From my own experience, if characters speak in an entirely different way then it kills the flow of the story and turns the characters into nothing but words on a page, nothing that can be related to very easily.

    I can see the points from all of you, as I've had other writers (friends) of mine, review some of the chapters, it has been mentioned that the dialect isn't the same as how it would have been in such a time period. I wasn't sure if it was considered a problem or not. I figured the more opinions I could get on this matter the better it would be for me.

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