Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Writing Historical Fiction & Opening to Morbidity

So, I've never really tried my hand at writing historical-based novels or novellas. It's harder than I first thought! Making sure everything is as accurate as possible is actually very hard work, especially with the time period I wanted. Because I'm a history student, I wanted to get everything perfect, except for the characters, and of course, vampires. I'd decided on having my novella set in the 1800s because that is my favorite time period, and I wanted it during a war. I  knew about a few wars in the 19th century, but for more options I quickly Googled "British wars 1800", and found a Wikipedia page with all the wars that were of interest.

I decided on picking a war that wasn't too well known, and if you're planning on writing a war-time novella, you might think that World War 2 or World War 1 or the Civil War would be the best things to pick, well, if you're aiming at a niche market then you might be correct. But for me, picking the Crimean War was the easiest because I know of two outstanding individuals I could mention that would surely make my history teachers proud: Nightingale and Seacole.
You would also need to learn about trends, fashions and social roles if you wanted an accurate historical setting. So for example, I trawled through the grand internet to find documents relating to the nineteenth century. I discovered that women were not as highly regarded (well, obviously) and I learned a hell of a lot about the social hierarchy, roles of men, how wills were regarded and much, much more. Obviously included in my research was a weekend marathon of Downton Abbey which consisted of no sleep, "note taking", coffee and many snacks.
When picking your own setting of time, you need to be comfortable with what you're writing. Don't make little mistakes, especially with clothing. If you do, the majority of people may not pick up on your errors but sods law will have it that someone somewhere will notice, and heavily remark on how "bad" you are and how "stupid" you were when writing the book.

As promised in the title, here is the opening to my story Morbidity which is my first attempt at writing historical fiction.

Evelyn smiled at her brother Richard who sat opposite her at the table. She picked up her tiny, bone china cup and sipped from it.
"So, Evelyn," he  mused. "What of the council? Have they had no say in this?"
She put her cup down, grinning. "Actually, the council have sent a letter. Everything that has occured is, to say the least, internal. And whilst the police are going about their business with the death of our lovely father, the state of his personal items and finances are ours. As far as they are concerned, we're dividing it amongst ourselves. With mother in London, I feel everything should be frozen until her return."
Richard grimaced. "Evelyn, we should split it between myself and Eric. Forget mother - she's been away."
"Do you feel no remorse? This is the Colin Estate. It should be handed to her, and then split as she deems wise!"
"No, Evelyn, it doesn't work like that. She's a woman, and, her miscarriage not long ago means she just isn't stable to handle the affairs... not to mention her husband has just died."
Evelyn slammed her hands against the table and stood up, a few strands of her blonde hair dropping down from her loose hair-bun. "I refuse to listen to your horrendous statements any longer!" She turned, and her maid swooned over, following closely, holding the parasol. "Come to me when you've grown up, Richard."
"Evelyn, wait!" He stood, attempting to make her stop in her tracks, but he failed. She slammed the door behind her.

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