Tips for Writing Period Pieces
By Emily Alvarez
I’ve been writing short stories and working on a couple of novels set in previous centuries. I often receive inquiries on how I collect my details and how I even know what to look for. Well, here are my tips for creating a realistic setting for your period piece:
~You have to know the time period in which you are setting your story. Everything from the politics, the social behavior, and even what streets existed are what gives your period piece the textures needed to make your story intriguing. What fashion was trendy, what books were popular, and even what wallpaper was used then can add so many delectable layers to your story. While it is not necessary to give every minute detail and instead create your own environment, those little details keep your reader immersed in the time frame that you have established.
~If you are writing a period piece set in 1820 England, you might have already realized through reading classic literature some of the popular names of the time (i.e. Edith, Louisa, Elizabeth, John, Edward,etc.). While it’s great to keep these names in mind, don’t be afraid to throw in some more modern touches. Your unique touch is what will make your book succeed!
3) DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADD MODERN THOUGHT
~It’s often hard for writers to write characters who’s state of mind is so far off from modern thinking. For example, I have found it ridiculously hard to write a submissive woman living in 1456 Romania in my historical fiction novella. I want to write a strong-minded warrior when she was actually a meek simpleton. BUT, this is fiction right? Exactly. Therefore my meek simpleton is out the window and my warrior is back on the page. Don’t be afraid to change it up a little. Most of the writers we love today have taken that same leap.
I hope these basics help many of you, for they sure helped me with mine.
Emily Alvarez is an avid writer and reader of historical fiction and comedy. She loves witty, unforgettable characters that represent the true ups and downs of human life. Emily is a southern California native and received her Bachelors Degree in English from the University of California, Fullerton. She is currently working on several writing projects and is part of the River Ram Press editorial team.