Historical romance is more than just placing your hero and heroine in the medieval era with some old-fashioned words thrown in. Readers of historical romance expect to get swept away into a different age in history, immerse themselves in the customs and manners of that era, and empathize with the people living in those times.
A historical romance should also include the essential components- interesting lead characters, great plot, conflict, lots of romance, and steamy scenes. But the history is as essential to the story as the plot, and should be an integral part of it.
Here are some tips that show you how to write historical romance.
1. Decide on a historical era:
Each historical period has had its unique characteristics, events, language and customs. Browse through the history books and go through the different historical eras and their distinguishing features. Decide which one is best suited for your writing style, your characters and the type of romance plot you have in mind. Once you choose an era, your entire story should use that time period for the setting, language, geography and other details. For example, a romantic story in a remote castle in medieval times or a court-based romance in Regency England, or a wild-west romance in America. Do not mix and match different features from different time periods, as it can leave readers feeling cheated.
Once you have figured out which period to set your story in, research all the facts and details about that period, so you can lend authenticity to the story. Readers will often look for inconsistencies in language, clothes, customs and manners from a particular era. For example, if you have your heroine ride through a crowded park in Victorian England, sitting astride her horse instead of side saddle, and no one looks askance, then readers will be skeptical.
3. Read books from that era:
Having all the historical facts and details, it is now time to create a great setting and backdrop for your romance story, and weave the historical facts into the story skillfully. There are many historical things to include in the story such as clothing, food, etiquette, dating rules, transportation, and laws- and it is important to know just how to blend these into your novel.
Reading a lot of fiction books set in your chosen time period will help you to seamlessly weave in the history with the fiction. Your knowledge of the time period should be evident without having to show off the amount of historical research you put in.
While readers definitely expect a large dose of history in the story, you need to find a balance between sharing too many historical details for the sake of authenticity, and keeping your story readable and interesting. For example, using accurate speech and language from a certain era can get bothersome and even difficult for readers to follow.
Try to keep as close and true to the time period and historical facts as possible, but don’t get too bogged down with the details. It is a work of fiction after all. When essential to the story, you can take some artistic license as long as it can be explained away or adds to the story.
Ultimately a historical romance should still be about the romance and the story. The history should enhance the romance between the lead characters, and make the story more thrilling and interesting to read.
Image credit: Brendan Riley on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]