Saturday, July 2, 2016
WRITING GREAT HISTORICAL ROMANCE - MARGARET TANNER
HISTORICAL ROMANCE - DO'S AND DON'TS - 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 trying 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.
The internet (use with caution as you can’t be 100% sure that the person who posted knows what they are talking about).
Library reference books – a great place to start.
Quizzing elderly relatives (depending, of course, which era you are writing about)
Great Depression – all o.k. because they would have lived during these times. World
Reading family diaries and/or letters.
Actually visiting places where you story takes place or somewhere similar.
e.g. I visited the old
jail for my novel, Daring Masquerade, set during the 1st World War, 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
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.
Pte. Danny Williamson shivered in the chilly air as he waited on the deck of the troopship.
A. 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 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
Within 5 minutes she had dusted the kitchen and was sitting down having a cup of hot milky tea?
A. Where did she get the milk? 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 for it. This would certainly take more than 5 minutes.
In Daring Masquerade 1916. The heroine goes to ring Colonel Andrew Smith. She punches in the telephone number and waits for him to pick up the phone? No.
A. She rang the operator, dialled the 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.
Beware of modern language and slang.
A poor, uneducated person wouldn’t speak the same way as a rich, educated person.
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.
When Harriet Martin masquerades as a boy to help her shell-shocked brother in 1916, falling in love with her boss wasn’t part of the plan.
I am an award winning multi-published Australian author. I love delving into the pages of history as I carry out research for my historical romance novels. I pride myself on being historically correct. Many of my novels are inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of my pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia. Outside of my family and friends, writing is my passion.