Writing Historical Romance

Updated: Sep 14



Hello, my fellow eggs!


Before reviewing this, please make sure you have read the prior lessons. This seventh lesson focuses on incorporating romance as a subgenre to your historical fiction story.




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Table of Contents

➵ Definition

➵ Infatuation vs. Love

➵ Different Manifestations of Love

➵ Courtship

➵ Conflicts and Resolution

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↠ Definition ↞

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What is Historical Romance?

Historical Romance are love stories that take place in the past. Some of the most popular settings are Regency era (1811-1820) and Victorian England era (1837-1901).


Historical romance stories are not limited to these time periods. They can occur in other areas of the world as well as different times, such as China's Tang Dynasty or World War Two in the United States. It's up to you to decide what you feel more comfortable at writing and researching.


Similarly, to Romance as a genre, in order to understand how to write romance, one must understand the difference between infatuation and love.


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↠ Infatuation vs. Love ↞

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Infatuation, or simply put, a "crush," is a short-term admiration for another person. It may be out of lust or appreciation of a man or woman. Although infatuation is not love, it's possible for it to develop into love.


Infatuation is often mistaken for love because of one's strong feelings. There is a lot of overlap between these feelings, such as forgetfulness and an undeniable attraction. However, it is the intensity and strength of that emotion that set the two apart.



Love is a profound feeling that only manifests when one person truly cares for the other person. They'll recognize and accept those little imperfections and that indescribable spark won't fade away as time passes on. If anything, that love will only grow as they get older.


It is possible to love more than one person. In some cases, widows end up falling in love with another person and get remarried. In other cases, they may actually love more than one person at the same time or fall in love with a different person even though they're with another. It greatly depends on the person's personality and how well they connect with others. To say that they never really loved the original partner is something that must be left up to the person it revolves around, the main character.


However, it is your duty as the author to offer an explanation as to why this occurs. It could be the character's personality, their circumstances, society's influence, etc. Whatever it may be must be explained in a way that the reader can understand the character's choices.



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↠ Different Manifestations of Love ↞

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1) Love at First Sight: This is exactly what it is. It's when one person falls in love with another person at first glance or even first impression.


There is usually something that makes the person fall in love. It can be a physical feature such as the eyes, skin, lips, hair, etc. Or it can be a personality trait such as gentleness or tenacity.

In certain fantasy and paranormal stories, individuals may find their "soulmate" or "mate". It may be triggered by their mate's touch, mental connection, or anything else.


When you write about love at first sight, make sure that you are explaining what it is that the character is falling in love with. Is it their eyes? Is it the perfume that they're wearing?


Remember to utilize the five different senses and explore how certain features or qualities of a character impacts the other physically, mentally, and emotionally. The best way to understand this is to put yourself in the character's shoes. How would you react? Would you be ecstatic or disappointed? By putting yourself in your character's shoes, it can help create realistic feelings for your character and allow the reader to empathize with what you're writing.


Example

Just about everything Wera has written LOL - In The Secrets of Tarot series, the soulmate concept exists and this is an instantaneous connection formed between two individuals, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation.


2) Convenient Love / Love as an Escape: Convenient love can be viewed in two different ways. A person may love, or try to love, another person because they feel that there is no one else out there that will ever meet their expectations. Subsequently, they end up settling for another person. There are some cases in which they do fall in love and/or live peacefully with that person. However, usually it's a diminished form of love because they know that they don't truly love them as they should.


The second way of convenient love is viewing it as an escape. Some may "fall in love" with another person just to get out of some sort of predicament. Some common situations that influence the development of this second type are war, debt, unemployment, etc.


This is why it is important to research any significant events that are going on in the time period that you select. These events may affect your character's life in many different ways and how they think about love.


3) "Status" of Love: When talking about the "status" of love, I am referring to how love may affect a person's place in society. In many cases of the past, women would seek out men of higher status and try to give a great first impression in the hopes of bringing about honor and riches to their family.


Love may pose a negative impact on two individuals if one was marrying a person belonging to the serf class. For example, a courtesan marrying a stable boy would cause rumors and malicious comments about that courtesan's family to spread. Why? Status was, and still is to some extent, a very important piece in judging one's character. It gave room for more opportunities for education, power, and wealth. With a higher status comes a greater influence.


Example

Jack and Rose from "The Titanic." Rose's mother wishes for her to marry Caledon because it would help alleviate their financial problems and maintain their high-class image. However, Rose ends up falling in love with Jack, which creates a significant amount of discourse due to his significantly lower status.


4) Love's Legacy: Love's legacy refers to the importance of having an heir, specifically a male heir, to carry on the family name. With women, having a male heir was also a way for them to permanently embed their position in the household, especially if they had married into a Royal family.


In the past, women did not have as many opportunities as men. Men were considered to be the head of the household as they offered a stability that women could not give at the time due to various restricting laws and social stigma.


Example

The Sins of the Serpent - Liu Wen's parents stress the importance of him giving up his homosexuality (as if that's a choice he can make), so that he can produce an heir and keep peace within Wuzhen.


5) Forced "Love": This is an unconventional manifestation of "love." In some cases, love, or at least the idea of love, is forced upon the other party either by one person's threat or an life-threatening threat. This usually happens in situations where the pursuer is extremely possessive and/or inconsiderate towards their love interest. Love interests may be kidnapped or tortured beyond insanity to the point where they think they are in love with their pursuer. They may also be forced into such a relationship to satisfy a longstanding financial debt.


Why am I teaching you this? To show you that there are darker relationships. These are prevalent during colonization periods. Being aware that it exists is good to know because it demonstrates that not all relationships are perfect.


However, writing about things like this can be very controversial as it is very triggering to most. Thus, you must be mindful of your audience and make sure you're not reflecting it in a way that would be offensive or glorification and not posted in a place that would be against that platform's rules.



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↠ Courtship ↞

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This is essentially the period in which two individuals spend time together with marriage in mind (either through exchanging of love letters or public/private meetings). In the past, men were to request permission from the daughter's father to pursue his daughter. In other cases, a matchmaking service may be utilized, and the best match will be selected.


Couples are typically pressured by family members to come up with a decision after a few meetings, especially if their relationship is expected to bring prosperity to both families.


Other individuals may not have the luxury of meeting their suitor. Some have arranged marriages and don't meet their bride or groom the day of the wedding.


Where and when your story takes place will greatly affect the manner and degree of courtship that takes place.



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↠ Conflicts and Resolutions ↞

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Two common conflicts that come with romance either relate to the status of one or both parties or how society perceives them.


Each culture has a different idea of the "perfect" relationship or marriage. However, most believe that one should marry another that is of the same status or higher. There is a fear that going against what society dictates will create what we call "social suicide."


Individuals may be shunned or talked badly about as a result of their choices. Ultimately, they're purposefully isolated by other members of society because of the stigma of associating with shunned members.


In order to escape this stigma, couples may elope, force themselves to marry another, or even stay together despite all of the negativity. Below are