Ask The Author-Historical Fiction

October 24, 2018 |  Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Ask The Author-Historical Fiction

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 *Cast of Characters:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Karen- pianist vacationing in Ireland with her fiancé and falls back through time

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Nathan- Karen’s fiancé

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Ronan- Irish medical student 1916

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Bridgit- Ronan’s mother

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Eileen-Ronan’s sister

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 *subject to change/additions

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Why is your plot outline subject to change? Mostly because I have characters appear out of nowhere and demand to be included. I tend to work with a loose outline; I know where my main characters are at the start and end of the plot and I have a pretty good idea of the journey they’ve been on. There a few scenes that will remain from when I first write an outline to a final draft, but they’re very much the exception.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Why historical fiction? – I enjoy historical fiction because it humanizes otherwise distant historical figures and hopefully gives readers a sense of empathy with the past. For example: while people are (hopefully!) familiar with Andrew Jackson’s policy of resettling the Cherokee a work of historical fiction that features a Cherokee family traveling the Trail of Tears as the main characters will usually have a greater impact on readers.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Why time travel? I read the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series a few years ago when Starz adapted it for television. As I remember I liked it but not enough to read the rest of the series. Flash-forward to a few months ago when I saw a lot of chatter about Outlander’s new season, wondered just what they were doing in Colonial America, and read up on what the past two seasons had been about.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 I’m prefacing this next bit with the disclaimer that I am very well aware that it makes for a good plot both in the books and TV series, but I’ve never really loved the “I’m married/in a committed relationship but I’m so in the love with you, and it’s cruel that we can’t be together” theme and Outlander takes that theme and runs a marathon with it. The main character is torn between her husband and the man she loves when she falls though time? I’ll give it a spin. The plot has the husband raise the protagonist’s child with her historical lover as his own while the author portrays him negatively so as to shift the reader’s sympathy towards the protagonist who is pining for her historical lover? I’m out. I wanted to see what would happen if I flipped the script, if I made the protagonist want to get back to the man she left in her own time and to look at what effect that would have on their relationship.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Why Ireland in 1916? – Ireland has a fascinating history as a colony of Great Britain. A lot of what we’re used to seeing in second and third world countries such as arbitrary borders, foreign language and religion, exploitation of the original inhabitants all took place in Ireland.  It’s very interesting to find attitudes we associate with racism being used exclusively between Europeans, right down to cartoonish figures. From a research point of view, it was the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016 so there was an increase in public and academic interest in Irish Independence which should be helpful.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Narratively speaking, 1916 is a year that lends itself to good storytelling. World War I was entering its second year, the Battle of Verdun began in February and would drag on until November, there were advances in science and technology, the role of women in society was constantly evolving, families lost their sons, brothers, and husbands by the hundreds. Even without the Easter Rising there is more than enough cause for conflict.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Finally, on a more frivolous note, I love the styles of the 1910’s. It’s not quite modern, but you can see how the more active role women took in the war effort shows itself in what they wore. The skirts are at the ankle or just above, they’re loose enough to walk easily in, they have pockets. With less and less women choosing domestic service, clothing was easier to put on and off by oneself.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 ***Bonus: But what about corsets?  How can you do that to your character? – Corsets tend to have a bad reputation that isn’t based on facts so much as pop culture. Corsets were worn by women of all socioeconomic classes including working class women who quite obviously needed their breathing to be uninhibited, and to have a decent range of motion. The primary function of the corset was to act as bust support. The secondary function was to artificially “shape” the body into a fashionable silhouette. Very few women practiced “tight-lacing” and the ones who did were almost always what we would call the 1%.  Then too, the fabled 16-inch waist is a bit of a red herring since it doesn’t tell the full story.  Even if the waist of a corset measures 16 inches there’s no way to ascertain if the corset was closed or left to gap a few inches.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 In any event, as a result of steel shortages in World War I the supporting element in corsets shifted from steel boning to elastic, so no characters will be tortured in the writing. There will definitely be a period of adjustment, but no one’s health will be endangered.


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