A Writing Plunge Into a New Genre (+ a Giveaway!)

P&P bookUpdate: Congrats to Kristine on winning the Julia Quinn book! Please email me (marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com) with your snail mail address and I’ll send it out to you! :razz:

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical romances. (And, c’mon, who here doesn’t already know that my favorite novel of all time is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?! I’ve talked about it so often, LOL.) But, for a number of reasons, I’ve never tried my hand at writing a Regency or anything more historical than a story that takes place in the late 1970s…

Well, in a few weeks, I’m going to have the opportunity to write — if not an entire Regency-set novel — at least a full scene from one. The Austen Authors, of which I’m a member, are in the midst of creating a what-if, reader-involved P&P variation story, with a newly invented character (“Edward Bennet” — just imagine that the Bennet sisters suddenly had an elder brother) and a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure kind of plot. It’s called “Pride & Prejudice: Reader’s Choice.”

So far, 17 authors are joining together and each of us are writing one segment of the story. Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match - ARe coverThe readers will then vote after each post on what direction to take the story next. I’m curious to give it a try — and I’ll let you all know how it goes later — but, I’ll admit, I’m nervous. Just because I happen to love to read historicals, it doesn’t mean I have any skills when it comes to writing one… My most recent book, after all, was a very modern romantic comedy (Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match), where I played fast and loose with the Austen connections, the P&P themes and any details I wanted from the classic story! See how quickly I could get myself in trouble with people who really know their history?

And, so, I’d love some advice. When you read an historical novel (it could take place in any era, it doesn’t have to be the Regency period), are you easily pulled out of the story if you spot an anachronistic detail or two? Are you distracted by a writing voice that sounds too modern to your ear? Or, for anybody reading this who writes both historical and contemporary stories, do you have any good author tricks or strategies for getting into the right “writing state” when you transition from one genre to another? Are tea and crumpets involved? Watching missed episodes of “Downton Abbey”?? For me, I think I’m gonna need to pull out my well-worn Austen DVDs to try to get into the mood, but I’m open to other ideas, too…

Anyone who leaves a comment below is automatically Duke and Ientered in my giveaway (see below). I’ll do the drawing this coming Sunday night, 3/3/13, and announce the results on this post. :razz:

GIVEAWAY: Some of my personal historical-romance favorites are the “Bridgerton” books by Julia Quinn, so I’m giving away a paperback copy of The Duke and I, the first novel in that New York Times bestselling series to one random commenter on this post. (Open internationally.) Good luck & have a great weekend!

About Marilyn Brant

Marilyn Brant is a chocolate addict, a music junkie and the USA TODAY bestselling author of ACCORDING TO JANE (2009), FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE (2010) and A SUMMER IN EUROPE (2011), all from Kensington Books, as well as a number of light romantic comedies, including THE SWEET TEMPTATIONS COLLECTION (2013) and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH (2013). Her latest novel -- a coming-of-age romantic mystery called THE ROAD TO YOU -- was just released in October 2013!
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14 Responses to A Writing Plunge Into a New Genre (+ a Giveaway!)

  1. Liz Kreger says:

    Don’t know how much help I can be, Marilyn. I’ve tried writing historicals … obviously without success. I used to read them by the bucket-load, but that was many years ago, so even chiming in as to whether an error would draw me out of a story wouldn’t go far.

    Good luck with the project. Really sounds interesting and challenging.

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    How fun! Historical is one of my favorite genres to read, though I don’t write them, either. But you have the voice for it, and I know I’ll love yours. I’ll certainly check it out!

    An anachronistic detail or two wouldn’t stop me from reading a book – after all, I watch Bones and Castle – but when the characters act too much like modern men and women, I don’t believe in them, and that stops me

  3. Misty Evans says:

    You can do it, Marilyn! It’ll be a blast. I participated in several round robin writing experiments years ago and they were so much fun. I bet this will be similar and I’m sure your fellow Austin sisters will help you with any details you question.

    Sounds like a great stretching-out-of-your-box exercise. I hope it yields fantastic results!

    • Misty,
      Thanks for your vote of confidence!!
      I think you’re right — there will be a lot of collaboration between the other Austen writers and me on this project — so, hopefully, they’ll keep me from going too far afield…
      Glad to hear you had so much fun with your round robin stories — I’ll bet they turned out beautifully ;).
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …“How I Met My Mr. (or Ms.) Darcy”

  4. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Marilyn,

    Wow, that’s a walk on the wild side! I’ve never written historicals myself and haven’t read any in years. I doubt a detail or two would draw me out, but the behavior and language would!

    Enjoy the experience!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Touched by Death – free on the 26th and 27th

    • Dale,
      You bring up a good point — I’ll have to make sure to keep a close eye on the language, so I don’t slip too much into modern dialogue exchanges. I probably *will* help if I watched “Pride & Prejudice” for the 12,000th time, LOL.
      Thanks 😛 .
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …“How I Met My Mr. (or Ms.) Darcy”

  5. Amy R says:

    Good luck, Marilyn! I am still a newbie to historicals (only have read a handful at this point) so I don’t think a little detail here and there that doesn’t fit would turn me off. Heck, I probably wouldn’t even notice. I bet you will have a great time writing it and the story will be really neat. It is funny that you mention the “choose your own adventure” thing because I just mentioned that on my blog on Wednesday! Have fun with it.

    • Amy, thank you!!
      And I’ll definitely check out your blog post this weekend, too ;).
      I always found those Choose Your Own Adventure stories to be really fun for young readers (my students liked them a lot when I was a teacher, and so did my son a few years ago), so it’s interesting to get to do a little something like that as an adult!
      Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …“How I Met My Mr. (or Ms.) Darcy”

  6. Oooh, good luck, Marilyn!

    I have to admit to being a real stickler for tone and word choice. When a 19thC heroine thinks in modern terms and phrases, I struggle. Even if I love the concept and the characters, I struggle.

    And I have to admit to being a double stickler, because there are very clichéd ‘historical’ terms that seem to be pulled out instead of actually reading any primary source material, like ending a sentence with: does / would it not? As in: That would be telling, Mr. Beadle, would it not?

    Red flag to a bull for me, I’m afraid. End of reading, right then and there.

    The best way to get into the language is to read contemporary novels of the time, and as you love Austen, go ahead and re-read. LOL. Or diaries and newspapers from the time, and so on. I’m not saying write exactly like they would have spoken, but if you develop an ear for it, it comes across, I believe.

    • Michelle,
      You’ve offered some excellent advice — thank you so much!!
      As an historical writer yourself, I figured you would be much more aware of minute differences in tone and language usage than I would have been. I’ve noticed word choice issues arising even within modern novels where the author is from one country and is trying to write characters from another. It can be hard to get the language correct there, too… Thanks for your helpful thoughts on this subject, and for the good luck! 🙂
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …“How I Met My Mr. (or Ms.) Darcy”

  7. Kristine Radgman says:

    I love to read Historical romances they are one of my favorites. Some of them are really funny to read especially when the heroine internalizes her feelings for the hero.

    I also love to read about a strong heroine but sometime a girl just needs help and someone to lean on.

    • Kristine,
      I love those humorous historicals, too!! That’s actually why Julia Quinn is one of my favorites. She has some really funny scenes in this Bridgerton series… And you mentioned something I really enjoy as well — when one of the characters says one thing aloud but is thinking internally something else, particularly the love interest. 😉
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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