Fun with Critiques

I joined Scibophile ( in order to get feedback on my Regency Romance manuscript. The problem is that few people actually know the language and history of the Regency period. Even if they know tons of details about any one area of history, there may be some tidbit they missed.

In my story, I describe the hero as wearing a coat of “superfine.” This one phrase created more negative input than almost anything else. Superfine was a general term for wool cloth that was made to be thin and fine. One critique said it sounded like something from a rap song. Most just said they had no idea what that referred to.

My favorite is a person who is an expert in historical fabrics. Lucky woman, she works in a historical house built around 1820, and has to wear fashions of that time. Mind you, the Regency period ended about 1820. The expert had never heard the term “superfine”, and came just short of saying I made it up. I gave her links to my resources, and she replied that much of what is available on-line is apocryphal. I switched to private messages with her because I didn’t like all her negativity on my scratchpad. I pointed out that my links had primary sources. She said that Georgette Heyer had made things up. No idea why she said that as I did not link to any of Ms. Heyer’s novels. Well, the expert planned to discuss this with her boss, on Monday. I never heard from her again on this issue.

It’s not that I wanted to gloat. Okay, it’s not only that I wanted to gloat. This expert made statements demeaning my writing in a public forum, but didn’t have the backbone to admit if she was wrong.

Overall, Scribophile is a great place for input, but you have to find like-minded people who know the subject.
Other Regency words that critiquers had issues with were: curricle, wrapper, incomparable, posting inn, Quality, and fustian*. I have MCs of a rake and a plain woman on her way to her first post as a governess. Too cliché, was said over and over. As bad as a sparkly vampire?

But going back over the critiques and ignoring what just wasn’t understood, I find the good input outweighs the bad or stupid. I rewrote the first chapter and came away with something much better. And I am looking at the second chapter wishing for an easy fix for it as well, But it’s not happening yet.

If I can get the first couple chapters to where I really like them, there’s a contest through Romance Writers of America (THE best thing any writer can do is join RWA. Honestly, contests that get the attention of editors, agents attending meetings, and super-supportive fellow members renew my drive every day.) for a historical romance that I can enter for some very important polish. I just have to stop participating in writing prompts at Scribophile and stick to the stuff that will sell.

I have to admit, writing and reading erotica at Scribophile has helped me relax and be more at home with the terms and sequences. While most of my Romances will have rare sexual encounters, due to the mode of the day and the extreme penalties for women who were caught having sex before marriage or with someone not their husband, I think I could have a career writing erotica as well as Regencies. But then, I would have to come up with a pseudonym because let’s face it. If my 88 year old sincerely Christian father ever read some of what I write and recognized my name, I would be in a world of hurt. Even more embarrassing would be if my 20 year old son read it!

So which name should I use? Trixie Turner? Rosie Palmer? Nomi DePlumme? Just kidding, I will probably use the pen name I came up with back when I first joined RWA. That was before I learned that copyrights are different depending on use of real name or pseudonym. My serious writing will be under my own name.

Well, there you have it. The beginning of the adventure of being a writer again. Once a week I’ll be sharing my writing history, my progress, and my concerns. I hope you are interested enough to stick around.

* curricle, A fashionable open-air owner-driven two-wheeled sporting vehicle designed for a pair of horses and seating for no more than two (ie the Regency equivalent of a two-seater convertible sports car).
wrapper, a thin gown or robe worn for modesty
incomparable, an incredibly beautiful woman. Also known as a “diamond of the first water” which makes NO sense at all. (I disagree, and will see if I can find the source of this phrase next time.)
posting inn, The English posting system began about 1500 as a royal message service. By Austen’s time it had evolved into a network of posting stations, post-horses, and post-chaises spread all over England. Posting stations and posting inns were located from six to fifteen miles apart, depending on terrain and road conditions.
Quality, High society; the fashionable elite. Also known as the Beau Monde, the Bon Ton, the Haut Monde, High Society, and the Ton.
fustian, rubbish
, Usually black woollen coat fabric much fulled and sheared for a soft finish; may also refer to kerseymere with silk or mohair included.


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