I get asked this question all the time: which is harder to write, historical or contemporary? People assume the historicals are harder because of “all that research involved.” Not true. The historical research I’ve relied on for the last fifteen years has been confined to one twenty year period in British history. I know exactly where to look if I can’t remember a social or political detail. I’ve read widely from novels and texts written in that era. I know it almost as well as I know the 1970s when VB and I wore overalls (don’t deny it, VB!).
Contemporaries are harder because readers know if I am blowing smoke. If I said that a modern-day character died and left no heirs, most readers would know that the estate would go to the nearest blood relatives, starting with the parents, then siblings, and so on. But if I presented in an historical novel-say The Revenge of Lord Eberlin--that an earl had died and left no male heir, so therefore his adopted daughter inherited, you would most likely buy it because you, dear reader, are most likely not up on the laws of primogeniture in England in 1810. But I am! And that couldn’t really happen! (But I did it. To find out how I did it, and I am not blowing smoke, you will have to read the book. hahaha).
Another difference between the writing of historical and contemporary is the pace. I am not talking about the plot, but of the prose. We are used to the shorthand we use in speaking to one another, and dialogue in a contemporary can fly. In historical romances, the tone is more gentle and proper, and the prose slows down a bit to accomodate. I tend to use more adverbs in historical novels than I do in contemporaries. Example: “What do you mean, you’re not going?” and “I should think it reasonable to assume that you are to attend, my lord.”
Another common perception is that characters and plots are different. Not so. The characters may be constrained by different external forces, but people are people, and always have been. Falling in love is the same as it always has been, and the obstacles that keep us from one another have been imagined for centuries.
You know who has the toughest writing job at Whine Sisters? Not me. It’s Sherri, who mashes genres together and creates seamless fiction. Or Julie, who writes an underworld complete with its own justice system. Makes my head spin. Or Dee, who has to create suspense and sustain it on every page. Or Jacquie and Kathleen, who both write so wittily that I laugh out loud, and that makes me pea-green with envy.
Don’t you wish they had a book out this week? Well, they don’t. But I do! Pick up The Revenge of Lord Eberlin, and be sure and visit my Facebook page for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and $100 gift certificate!