Writing Historical Romance

Historical romance is one of my favorite genres to read. I love to be drawn back to an earlier time through description, language, and events that make me feel like I’m right there with the character. If it’s done well, it’s a learning experience about that time, and a romance that introduces a new emotional experience with totally different rules, mostly taboos. I recently competed a time travel romance in which the hero, living in 1881, accidentally invents a time travel carriage which carries him to the twenty first century where he meets the heroine. Challenge number one was getting their voices right, down to the “Okay” versus “Very well,” and “damn thing” versus “bloody device.” Challenge number two was separating what was acceptable behavior (and language) in her time versus his. And of course there’s the whole quandary of how they react to certain stimuli, not to mention, to one another. Making sure you have adequately researched the inventions, and lack of, for that period is essential if you don’t want to lose your reader. Your heroine isn’t going to hop into her convertible and drive away in a huff in the seventeenth century. But the big items like whether or not cars had been invented are usually not the things that trip up the writer, and hence the reader. It’s usually the smaller things that the writer overlooks…like he hopped into the shower. Wait, no he didn’t, he ordered his housekeeper to boil water and fill his tub. Research is key in writing good historical fiction, as is reading in that genre to get the feel for it. Finally, if you’re incorporating actual events from the period, make sure you know the facts surrounding those events. It takes a lot of work to write good historical fiction, but when you enjoy it, the research and reading and learning about that time are all part of the fun.

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