The Uncial Letter – October 2017

Ordinarily we don’t offer writing advice in The Uncial Letter, because most of our subscribers are readers. But we also know that a fair number of you are also aspiring authors, published authors, or folks who plan to write a novel someday. So for you, we offer:

 

Three Tried-and-True Tips for
Writing Resonant Historical Fiction

By Lucy M. Loxley

One of the joys of writing—and reading—historical fiction is the ability to drop down the rabbit hole and awaken in a different world. Page-after-page, who doesn’t want to get lost in glittery, candlelit ballrooms with lords and ladies dancing and flirting with their eyes or lindy hop in a polka dot blouse across a smoky community dance floor while “In the Mood” blares the night before a young soldier’s called to war? Such escape is particularly favorable when, in real life, there is a mountain of laundry and other dull-as-dishwater chores.

As much fun as it is to create and, for a while, reside in fictional worlds, it can be a challenge to recreate a time and place with different manners, mores, and customs. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen’s novels and have read most of them numerous times, but while writing my Regency, Her Humble Admirer, I found that there was more to bringing characters and settings to life (and readers along for the fun ride) than I’d initially anticipated. You must draw your readers into historical worlds they are eager to explore:

Descriptive detail is your friend. Without enough detail, your readers can’t envision where your character is in the middle of a scene. This might include what your character is wearing, if it’s important to the place or plot especially, but it could easily also include specific phrases or words that were part of the lexicon at the time. If you’re writing about 17th century Scotland compared to, say, the Roaring ’20s in the States, you can expect your protagonist to sound quite different, based on what were popular expressions at the time.

Which brings me to: research, research, research, and then edit accordingly.  One of the great qualities of historical readers is that they really get into authentic time-periods. We’re talking songs, entertainment, fashions, catch-phrases, transportation, inventions—you name it. Conversely, historical fiction readers demand authenticity and will be happy to point out to you, their blog, and your publisher when what you’ve situated in 1776 is inaccurate and ridiculous for someone of that social station. I recommend bookmarking historical websites that relate to your setting. I also found this website quite useful to verify whether certain word choices and phrases I included in my initial manuscript were authentic to Regency England. There are similar reference materials, both online and in print form at local and state libraries, which are well worth perusing, especially as you edit your historical chapters.  A few quick perusals is far better than turning in sloppy scenes, riddled with out-of-date or silly dialogue that will draw attention and pull your readers out of the scene with a dissatisfying clunk.

For all of the specificity historical fiction writing requires, remind yourself that certain human emotions and actions are timeless. Protagonists in love tend to exhibit similar physical, emotional, and mental symptoms whether your protagonist becomes besotted in the 1950s or the 15th century. Blushing, evasion (both verbal and physical), sweating, inability to sleep, daydreaming, and more. Your protagonist’s love interest, also, will likely respond with behavior that humans have shown (or tried not to show) for centuries, which may include embarrassment, subterfuge, hope, stuttering, and any number of measures to get time alone to ponder and plan next moves. As Lysander so famously says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “The course of true love never did run smooth.”  Use what you know and have learned about human behavior to explore your characters’ actions, reactions, emotional and physical symptoms, dialogue, internal thoughts, and more. Readers of almost any background will relate will the struggles—and eventual joys—of the mating/dating dance, whether it plays out on a battlefield on the Old Continent or a Moroccan bazaar.

* * * *

 

Lucy M. Loxley’s formal introduction to our readers happens this month, with her delightful short Regency romance, Her Humble Admirer (ISBN 978-1-60174-232-2, $3.99). When Livia receives the first anonymous love note, she is thrilled, but as they continue to arrive, she becomes both mystified and frustrated, for the sender refuses to reveal himself. The most likely candidate is the new man in the neighborhood, charming, witty, and attentive. Why won’t he reveal himself?

 

Linda Palmer returns in November with another installment of her Psy Squad series. Here and There isn’t exactly a ghost story. Except that Erin keeps seeing them—everywhere.

 

Did you know that all Uncial Press titles are available to libraries all over the world? Please recommend our titles to your local library. It’s a great way to share your favorite authors with friends and neighbors.

Until next month, keep reading—ebooks from Uncial Press.

Star & Jude

Save

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am and is filed under Coming Soon, eBook Readers, New Releases, Our Authors, Uncial Letter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.