Good morning, all! Here's today's topic and poll...
TOPIC: Creating Worlds, Both Historical & Fantasy: Are horses faster than unicorns? Moderator: Lyn Armstrong
First, let me answer the question: Are horses faster than unicorns?
Of course they are not. LOL. Unicorns are enchanted creatures and have the ability to fly. At least the unicorn called Silas in Lady of the Mountain (4th book in Celtic series) can fly, which makes him faster than a horse.
Creating a world within history and one within the realms of fantasy are two very different skills and has varying levels of difficulty. However, you can combine the genres, which is what I love to do the most. But for today’s purpose, I will talk separately about historical and fantasy worlds.
A traditional historical can be set with characters that embody the time period with personality, clothes, culture, body language, weapons, and dialogue to name a few. With the right research, a writer can weave a tale with setting and characterization to create a world for a reader rich in historical texture and flavor. However, a historical writer must adhere to certain boundaries a fantasy writer does not – historical accuracy.
Research is the key in creating a believable world set in a particular time period. (See yesterday’s post – Making Research Fun and Fast) You would not have a heroine carry a lacy parasol while strolling along the Highland moors in the 14th century.
Creating a historical world is not all about research. It’s about bringing senses and surroundings to the page so your reader believes they are really in a 16th century castle. Use the five senses to create the atmosphere. Taste, sound, sight, touch, and smell.
Describe the smell of the master’s chamber on a spring morning after the rushes have just been changed. And what emotion does that provoke in a visiting farm girl who is used to sleeping in a horse’s stall?
Creating a fantasy world is very near and dear to my heart since the Celtic series is based on a historical and fantasy world. I have created witches, sorcerers, wizards, unicorns, oracles, shape shifters and Celtic Goddess/Gods. In fantasy there are no boundaries to your imagination, however, it is important to keep in mind the organic elements that support the unbelievable as believable. In other words, if you are writing about a unicorn that flies, or a shape shifter, support these mystical creatures with information on how they came by their powers. Try to explain the unexplainable and readers will follow you into that world.
Authors have many ways of imagining their worlds. Inspiration comes in varying forms. I love watching movies and reading romances that take me to a different world outside the dishes, laundry and daily stresses.
Create a world you would like to visit, one filled with excitement, adventure and romance. Write what you are passionate about and it will lead the reader into a wondrous world shaped by your imagination.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR WRITING HISTORICAL ROMANCE:
From Minnette (to name a few):
1. Make sure to research word usage for your period.
2. Contractions give the piece a more modern sound, so use them sparingly in older time periods.
3. If available, read books from the era you’re writing about…classical authors can give you great insight into the language of the time.
4. Put yourself in the moment – history can be very dry. You need to breathe life into it.
5. Consider writing about periods that are not normally covered in historical romance. It might give you a fresh voice.
6. Having said that, make sure you do your research on the prevailing markets, as well. Make sure there is a market for your story.
7. Join Romance Writers of America and your local RWA chapter. This is a fabulous way to network, find critique partners, get training, seminars, and lectures free or at very low prices. Best money you’ll ever spend.
8. If you are unpublished, consider submitting your work to the many RWA chapter romance competitions available each year. You will get critiques and a chance to get your work noticed.
9. Take writing classes from your local writers associations.
10. Consider taking a history class at your local community college or university.
11. Visit museums regularly and sign up for historical blogs.
*Don't just write about a time period. Delve into it. If your era is say, 1830 (which is mine), spend all your effort and time researching everything and anything evolving around 1830. From newspapers, to books, to Google searches, to fiction and non-fiction books. You should know about the way people dressed, ate, what they rode in, the houses they lived in, what money is worth, the political climate, what entertainment was for the people in your era, what books they would have been reading, what newspapers would have been in print, and the list goes on and on.
*Your research should be wallpaper, not clutter. Although I think it's pretty obvious by what I mean, I'll make this point. You've researched as described above. You know EVERYTHING there is to know about 1830. Does that mean you tell us EVERYTHING? Please, no. Everyone loves history. But in fiction, it is but a backdrop to your story which reflects real life. If you clutter your scenes with too much history, say, what the King ate even though there is no King in your story, you better believe not only will your characters be tripping all over the so-called furniture, but so will your reader. Make history the wallpaper of your story. The point is, you can see the wallpaper at all times and you know it's there but it's not going to stick a leg out and trip anyone as they make their way across the room.
*Make love scenes believable given the time period. In other words, don't have your hero whip out rubber condoms (they didn't make an appearance until after the 1850's by Goodyear and even then weren't available to be bought for some time). Depending on the social ladder you place your hero and heroine that will also determine whether they can or cannot make love. Of course, you can always bend the rules to create great conflict. You just can't have the hero and heroine making love beneath a tree in Hyde Park...well, you can, but...you get the idea.
DISCUSSION: The pro's and con's in creating historical/fantasy worlds.
ASSIGNMENT: Write a few paragraphs and create a world by using the five senses: Touch, taste, sound, sight and smell. It can be historical, fantasy or both.