Hearts Through History Romance Writers

A Historical Writer Goes Contemporary

by | May 13, 2013

As a member of Hearts Through History, I usually write historicals set in America.  However, last spring my critique group (which is now more of a plotting/brainstorming group) got the chance to write a series of five novellas, one by each member of the group.  Most of our group writes contemporary, so we decided the novellas would be contemporary.

Our group went on a weekend retreat and did the plotting/brainstorming for all five novellas.  We started out with the premise of five high school friends who went away to college, and were all together New Year’s eve their freshman year in college.  That night they made a list of the qualities they wanted in a man.  Now ten years have passed and things have not gone exactly as they planned.  Now they are together again at New Year’s, where the make a new list and make a pact to each fine a man by next New Year’s, forming The New Year’s Eve Club.

So what’s this got to do with Seduced by History?  I’m wondering if any of you write both historical and contemporary and any problems you might find in switching back and forth.

For me, I found it’s about all the sex when comes to differences in writing historical and contemporary.  Of course there is sexual tension between the hero and heroine in historicals, but usually as I’m writing historicals, I have to keep the hero and heroine from consummating their attraction.  In my historicals I really have to work to make a scenario where there’s an authentic/realistic reason they might sleep together before marriage.  (One of the reasons a marriage of convenience works so well in historicals.)  I discovered I really had to change my mindset for the contemporary – after all, they are consenting adults.

While I’d anticipated this change in mind set (from a writer point of view), one problem that caught me by surprise was communication. I’m so used to writing historicals, that in writing the novella when the hero wanted to arrange a meeting with the heroine, I had the hero leave the heroine a note.  I wasn’t until I was about three quarters through the draft that it occurred to me that they would have cell phones and had constant and instantaneous communications!  And yes, I have a cell phone, but my husband and grew up without them so we really don’t use them all that much, so it took me awhile to think of the phones.  (And yes, I layered in several phone conversations in the novella).

Since I’ve been writing about cowboys and the American west, I made by hero stuntman on a western movie set, to keep the cowboy theme.  My heroine is a teacher looking for a little adventure when she takes a summer job teaching child actors on a western film set.  At the end, I’m glad to say I must have made the transition as our New Year’s Eve Club novellas are doing well. https://www.facebook.com/TheNewYearsEveClub

Now, to switch my mind back about a hundred and fifty years and get back to my historicals.  If you’ve made the transition back and forth, let me know how it went.




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