RULES FOR WRITING HISTORICAL ROMANCE – MARGARET TANNER
Why do I write historical romance: Because I love history.
The most important aspects are:You must be passionate about your subject in a historical novel. You might get away
without this passion in a contemporary but you won’t in a historical:
Historical Accuracy. Without that, your novel is doomed and so are you.
Write about an era that you are interested in.
I am not into Medieval or Regency, so it would be tedious tyring to do the research required for this, and I wouldn’t have the passion about it, and I am sure this would show in my writing.
Library reference books – a great place to start.
Quizzing elderly relatives (depending, of course, which era you are writing about)
2ndReading family diaries and/or letters.
Great Depression – all o.k. because they would have lived during these times. World
Actually visiting places where you story takes place or somewhere similar.
e.g. I visited the old
jail for my novel, Daring Masquerade, because my heroine was jailed for being a
spy. I wanted to see what it was like. The walls were solid bluestone, and
cold, even on a warm day. The cell was small etc. Melbourne
Settings:Name towns: Know the area. What grows etc. I always set most of my stories in N.E. Victoria because I know the area well. Mention a few main towns, but I never be too specific, because you can get easily caught out. I always make up a fake town near a main town or city.
In my novel, Allison’s War, set in 1916, I said the heroine lived at Dixon’s Siding (made up name) i.e The left the farm at Dixon’s Siding, and after an hours riding (horses) reached Wangaratta.
I PURPOSELY DID NOT SAY Dixon’s Siding was (10 miles west of Wangaratta on the Greta/Myrtleford Road, because I didn’t know for sure, that there wasn’t a giant lake there or a massive quarry at that time (1916).
QUIZ: WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE STATEMENT?
1.30a.m., 25th April 1915.
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
Private Danny Williamson shivered in the chilly air as he waited on the deck of the troopship. In the darkness he couldn’t see land, even though someone said it was less than three miles away. When his turn came, he climbed down the rope ladder and found himself in an open boat. Excitement surged through him. He had travelled halfway around the world for this moment and was keen to give a good account of himself.
A. Landing at Gallipoli 0130 hrs – not 1.30a.m. No soldier would say 1.30a.m. The army always uses the 24 hour clock
My novel, A Wicked Deception is set in 1854 on the goldfields.
On arrival at the homestead, Melanie unsaddled the mare and let her loose in the stockyards James had constructed from split logs. Surprising how neglected a house became after being left empty for a few days.
Where did she get the milk?
- Not out of the refrigerator that is for sure. She would have had to milk the cow. Water would have to be boiled on wood stove? She would have had to light the stove, maybe even cut the wood.
A. She dialled the operator at the telephone exchange etc. And she certainly didn’t use her mobile phone.
On her wedding night, her nightgown was exquisite, a soft, white polyester, lavishly trimmed with lace.
A. No polyester in those days.
Know the area you are writing about: In my novel, A Rose In No-Man’s Land, the heroine is in England. It was December, the sun streamed down from a cloudless blue sky and Amy felt so hot didn’t know how she would be able to walk back to the railway station.
A. It would be winter in England in December.
Beware of modern language and slang.
So, as you can see there are many pitfalls to writing historical fiction, but if you have a genuine love of history it is a pleasure to write in this genre.
Margaret's Website: http://www.margarettanner.com
Margaret's Author Page on Amazon:
All the books mentioned have been published by Books We Love and are available at Books We Love or Amazon