Historical Fiction Q&A

November 8, 2018 |  Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Historical Fiction Q&A

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 *Plot Outline:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 This is set in 1919/1920. The story follows a former VAD nurse, Julia, with flashback chapters to her life during World War I.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 *subject to change/additions

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 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.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 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.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Why write include a romance?- I really, really dislike “romance” being somehow not entirely respectable, as though “romance” is only a cheap paperback bodice-ripper. There’s a quote along the lines of, “not reducing a woman to a love interest does not mean a woman in question should not have a love interest” and I try to use that in my writing. And, not to state the obvious but romance isn’t something that was first invented in the 1960s. As long as you work within the standards of the time period there is no reason why romance can’t be historically accurate.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Why write about an upper middle class woman? This was something I gave a lot of thought to. Ultimately, it came down to research materials; the more education a woman had, the more likely she was to have left a historical footprint. I went with an English cast because assuming this ever gets published, I thought it would be an interesting idea to do a next generation follow-up. Go big or go home, right?

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Your protagonist can be described as traditionally feminine, why go that route? Partially due to a recent article which derided the women who knit for soldiers in favor of the women who took on traditionally masculine tasks. It all sounds very feminist until you consider that a pair of socks would last about three days…

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Why World War I? –   Narratively speaking, World War I lends itself to good storytelling. In addition to the military aspects 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. In some ways World War I was a traumatic experience that was never resolved, just pushed under the rug, which again, makes for good storytelling.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 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.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 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.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 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 or have their health endangered from fashion.


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