Sunday, August 3, 2014

Keeping it Real

Good morning. As you know, I write Regency romance, a sub-genre of historical fiction. In each of my books, I've done endless research to get the "history" of the period as true as I can get it. Yes, I will admit I have "fudged" some facts to make either my story, or my timeline fit together into a cohesive whole.

As an example -- In THE LADY'S FATE, it seems Prince George is a bit of sucker for romance. Was he in real life? I have no idea. But in my books he is. Why? You may ask. The simple answer -- because I wanted him to be. In his own life, Parliament would not allow him to be married to his much older, Catholic, twice-widowed wife. So I took his disappointment (which I'm sure was more akin to outrage had I actually known Prinny) and used it to my advantage.

Is that wrong? I have no idea. But it's my book and I'll write it any way I want to. To me Prince George is as real to me as my own brother.

Now, some people have said that I don't actually write "Regency" romance because I don't write like Georgette Heyer (famed author during the 40's and 50's) because I do not ascribe to the "comedy of errors" novels that she was so famous for. I'm not a fan of Heyer. Sorry. I'm sure there were a lot of comedic errors made during the Regency period, but the Regency also involved the Napoleonic Wars, as well as poverty, and suffering, and political intrigue. People were not just aristocrats having balls and dancing at Almack's. There was more to life than London Society.

Jane Austen actually LIVED during the Regency period. (And for those of you who don't know what that is, it was the period that Prince George ascended to the throne as Regent in England, because his father King George was mad. 1811-1820 or 1830 depending on who you talk to.)

As far as I'm concerned, Jane Austen is the quintessential Regency romance writer because her characters are so believable. Her characters are balanced between good and not-so-nice, most have a major life-altering ah-ha moment that changes the direction which they were following (Mr. Darcy anyone?). However, the main point in any of her stories is not necessarily romance. Yes, there's always a happily ever after at the end, but in order for the main characters to get to it, they have to go through a lot of crappy crap to get there.

To me, the main point in all Austen's work is the character arc. She strives to make each "real" with all the foibles and grace, and idiosyncrasies that make people, well, people.

She writes "personally" -- as if she knew Cathy Moreland and her penchant for imagining the worst about Captain Tilney, and Anne Elliot's desperate hunger for Frederick Wentworth. And let's not forget Emma's matchmaking meddling. How many women do you know who are just like Emma?

To me, this, this getting into their heads, is what writing is all about. I'm not going to harp on some of the ridiculous stories I've read that are published by New York (that no one even bothered to check for historical accuracy) or the wanton sex that appears on every other page (because sex sells -- guess what friends -- not so much anymore).

It's about keeping the characters real. So real that when you read, you root for, you cry with, you are devastated or elated right along with them.

Tell me -- What makes a character real for you?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

3 comments:

  1. Getting in their heads...knowing and feeling what they are knowing and feeling. It's such a pleasure to read when the author takes you inside the MC, as a writer, it is so darn hard to do it.

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  2. I don't like Georgette Heyer, either - too mannered.
    Characters become real for me when I'm not reading but find myself thinking about them and wondering what's going to happen to them next.

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  3. Liza -- And it should be kind of easy considering we, as authors, are supposed to know how they feel.

    Janice -- I have a friend who writes like that -- where you think about her characters for long afterward. Brilliant.

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