Regency romance can be tough to write because of the accuracy needed of the historical information, particularly with the world-building. Your characters have to be accurate in regards to the time period. It means their manners, behaviors, beliefs, and voice. Proper research and worldbuilding are crucial to writing any historical fiction.
How to write Regency romance?
Regency romance is a beautiful genre that immerses the reader in a historical setting better than any non-fiction book. When writing a historical plot, authors tend to tone down or ignore some major issues to make their work more fit for a modern audience. We mustn’t forget about the oppression and inequality of the past because we find it unpleasant today.
I will discuss my top 15 tips for writing a regency romance. Let’s go!
1. Pick your time period
The time period is an essential step for a specific reason. You cannot take whatever historical tidbits and toss them all together. Change the story’s period because your character suddenly needs to use a phone. Once you’ve picked a specific time, period and year, it will be easier to build and tell your story within the rules of that era.
2. Do your research and double-check your sources
Make sure what you’re reading or looking up is relevant to your story. This way, you’re not reading up on which flower represents each God. In Greek mythology, I needed to know if roses were common during that time. Roses were common in ancient Greece.
- When including any part of history in your writing, the research you do is crucial.
- Make sure you cross-reference and use official sources such as books, newspapers, art, and anything else from that time period.
- Don’t be afraid to check out history books about the time period you’re looking into. Your local public library is the perfect place to take advantage of this.
When reading books in the same genre, apply the same rules when using the internet. Double-check everything against multiple reliable sources.
3. Pay attention to detail
Don’t be lazy. It’ll show everyday objects and items we currently use were invented in the past. There are things we use now that weren’t even a thought in the early 1800s. Moreover, there were things in the 1800s that were essential to daily life but are practically useless now.
- When doing your research, pay close attention to the details.
- Take note of personal hygiene forms of transportation.
- Take a step back and consider everything that happens in your story and make sure it matches the time period you’ve chosen for your story.
- Keep in mind regional and cultural differences.
Two things from social behavior to daily attire can vary from the West Coast to the East Coast, the same way it can vary from the US to the UK.
4. Be careful about your information
Not unlike readers of contemporary fiction, you will find historical fiction. Readers are very nit-picky about the details. If you’re going to be talking about the type of dress for Victorian England, you have to adapt their details. So make sure that you do your research and go through your manuscript with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that you don’t have any anachronisms or inconsistencies.
That’s the thing that readers will get very annoyed with you about and don’t have much tolerance for it. If you’re writing a book set in 1920s England and your main character is happily driving along a motorway, that’s a problem. Motorways weren’t even the very first motorway in England wasn’t even completed until 1959. So these are the things you need to be careful about.
5. Create Your World
You can start world-building whenever you want. You can create the story and build it as you go. Be sure to keep your story fairly open to potential changes stemming from the world you create. You don’t have to worry if you’re writing a different genre like sci-fi or fantasy. It is because you’ll create your world from scratch and can change it any way you want.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to regency romance or any historical fiction because you need to be authentic to the time period you’ve chosen for your novel.
- While there is nothing wrong with being creative and taking some liberties, make it clear to your readers that that is intentional.
This way, you don’t have people in your comments inbox and reviewers complaining about inaccuracies. But I have to warn you: there will always be one.
6. Learn the culture of the time
Learn the culture and customs of the times and historical romances. The culture and customs of the time period are essential. The most common internal conflict of the heroine is what she wants versus what society offers. The same applies to the hero and other male characters. What he wants to do is a conflict with what society wants him to do.
If you want your historical moments to shine truly, make sure to research the culture of that era, the customs of different groups of people, and how these customs impacted their daily lives.
- Don’t make all of your characters open-minded.
There have to be a couple of characters who believe in the system. If everyone were open to change, then you might as well write a more contemporary story. Be sure to have individuals who are representatives of the time period. This way, the open-minded characters will be way more impactful.
7. Learn about the relationship system
Learn the rules to courtship and dating if you ask your parents and then ask your grandparents what dating was like when they were out looking for the one. They’re going to give you vastly different answers. Dating is dramatically different from what it was in the 80s/90s.
The rules of courtship and dating rely heavily on customs and culture. Learning these rules will help you build romance around it during that specific time. You’re more than welcome to break those rules or write a unique story around them. Love is found anywhere at any time, and that’s the point of romance novels.
8. Decide your romantic conflict
Since you’re armed with the knowledge of dating and courtship of the era your couple exists, you’ll be able to create a unique love story for your reader easily. Feel free to take the obstacles and conflicts to the next level, whether about different classes, misunderstandings, or personal beliefs.
Every love story is different, from how they meet to the internal and external forces that fight to keep them apart. Everything they must do to have their happily ever after, no matter what the conflicts are between these two lovers. Make it so extraordinary that it can never happen again with any other couple in the little world you’ve created.
9. Create your characters
Most regency romances have two protagonists. The hero and heroine of the average romance novel or hero-hero/heroine-heroine in LGBTQ romance. No matter the kind of romance, these are the two people your readers are rooting for. The biggest reason you have protagonists is that it allows you to create a deeply layered story.
You can write a dual point of view. If you want, follow only one of your protagonists throughout the story. Make sure that both characters have agency, and keep the set agency in mind as you write.
- When it comes to writing protagonists that will fall for each other and win over your readers, you must give them relatable and real characteristic flaws.
The last thing you want is to give your characters modern characteristics, dialogue and behaviors. It’ll ruin the illusion of time travel you’ve worked hard to establish, making us all emotional.
10. Focus on the connections
Make sure it’s a regency romance that follows the relationship and connection of the couple. If it doesn’t, it’s not a romance. Instead, it’ll be any other historical genre with romantic elements. The romance has to be center stage for it to be a romance. If it isn’t, then it’s only a story in the past.
Also, know that your characters are not romantically involved in connections and relationships. Perhaps your champion is in love with their best friend’s sister. The sister wants to be with them. But she doesn’t want to ruin the friendship between the lover and the sister because she loves the sister as much as she loves them.
Or maybe a woman must choose between marrying a duke to save her loving family from financial ruin or running away with the family’s handmaiden that she’s been in love with for years. There are many great ways to tell a love story. So make sure all dynamics come into play, and it’ll give your story one hell of a boost.
11. Don’t be afraid of story cliches
I’m all about using cliches and making them new again. Once you use a cliche, more will join in to keep your story going. Obviously, you want as original a story as possible. So if you find your story slipping into a cliche, don’t panic.
Maybe panic a little bit to get it out of your system. Be calm, and think of a way to change the cliche if your heroine is a damsel in distress. Switch it up by having her be the brains behind her rescue and instructing the hero on what he needs to do to save her. It’s possible to make things refreshing. All you need is something to work with your patience.
12. Develop your romantic plot
When it comes to romance, the goal is obvious a happily ever after. But how do your characters get there after meeting? There has to be a plot point where the protagonists make the wrong decision, though they believe it is right. They can’t be together because she’s a princess and he’s the baker’s son. Or, they have to stay away from each other because one of them is already engaged.
The solution to the conflict will start positively for the protagonists. But they’ll become unhappier with every passing scene until they can’t take it anymore and decide that it’s time to fight against the obstacle standing in their way. So it will be the second plot point where the protagonists make the right decision and will eventually be followed by the story’s resolution.
Remember, real-life relationships are nowhere near perfect. So the relationship between your characters shouldn’t be perfect. Put something. In a way, that scares them and makes them think they’re not allowed to have such happiness. Then have them realize that their love and happiness is an achievements. It’s what your readers came for, so be sure to deliver.
13. Build your subplots
The romance is supposed to be the center stage of your story, but they’re also must be other stuff. Subplots come in different shapes and forms: family, friends, education, social events, etc. Maybe a family member gets sick, and your heroine is entrusted with taking care of them, cutting into the only window she has to meet with her hero. Or, the hero’s family is only visiting the countryside for the summer and they’ll be leaving pretty soon.
Whatever the subplot, make sure it’s something that will either separate the couple or bring them together. Also, it’ll help establish a broader picture of your novel’s world. Subplots also allow slice-of-life moments enriching the experience of the historical period your reader wants to see.
14. Set the actual view
Make sure that you read in your time period and genre. The character’s dialogue, dress style, architecture, and everything will be different in a different time period. Even ten years ago, the world that we live in today was a little bit different. If you’re writing as recently as the 1990s, you need to ensure that you’re getting that right.
If you haven’t lived through those time periods, the best way is to make sure that you’re reading a lot in that area. You must have a good grasp of the time period you’re writing in because the time itself is almost the character. You need to illustrate it well. Make sure that it’s convincing because it will add an entirely different tint to your entire novel.
15. Forget that you are still writing fiction
You can be free to play with it a little bit. Realistically, we don’t have time travelers, and that’s not a thing. You’re writing Regency romance and historical fiction doesn’t mean that every single thing you write has to be 100% accurate. Maybe for a bestselling author, some people get annoyed that you’re historically inaccurate by having somebody time travel.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to write the story. But the main thing is that you do your research, pay attention to detail, and stay true to your narrative. It’s all fiction is an incredibly fun genre to read and write. So don’t forget to have fun.
5 tropes of regency romance
There are many tropes for regency romance, and you have some limits. Not all the tropes work in the historical time period. So you have to know better which tropes are usable and which are not. Here are 5 popular tropes for your historical fiction or regency romance.
1. The main character is ruined
It works to force the main character and the love interest together because the hero is the only one who will have a heroine. So he can be so magnanimous that he doesn’t care that she’s had premarital sex. In these cases, the book never stops reminding us that the main character is a fallen woman.
Society had different rules back then. At the time of marriage, women would be worried about their reputations. While additional life paths were not that common, they did exist. There are ways for a woman to exist and survive and thrive without getting married. This trope comes with shaming, even if the main character hasn’t had sex.
2. Sexism blamed on historical accuracy
Sometimes writers will lean heavily into sexism, citing historical accuracy. But then why do all the men have bodybuilder physiques? Why are the legs and armpits smooth and hairless? Why does everyone smell like roses despite not having running water and deodorant? There can be a fine line between historical accuracy and modern sensibilities, and it bothers me a lot when it is cherry-picked.
3. Lack of diversity
It comes from many avenues. It’s going to be a lot of very hot, rich white men and a lot of white girls. I love stories set in the 18th and 19th centuries in England and Scotland with Dukes Galore. But many rogues and rakes have tons of sex and do nothing good for the world. The elites rule this subgenre.
4. Hating functional fashion
The main character thinks the corsets are a tool of patriarchal oppression and completely ignores that they are a functional undergarment. That works great if you are not lacing them super tight. They are an integral structural piece of clothing. So they were laced up super tight.
5. The nameless and faceless props
It applies to servants, peasants, and anyone in the lower rungs of society that exists solely for the hero to rescue them, fix them, and show that they are truly good people.
Despite their suffering and importance to the plot, that character is immediately disregarded. I’m not suggesting that you need to provide a name and backstory for every single person who walks across your page. So often, the lower rungs of society are used as a prop to make the elites look good, and they deserve better.
No matter the time period, you can write a whirlwind romance that stays within the rules of courtship and dating. Or, you and your characters can be rebels and kick those rules to the curb. The choice is yours. The great thing about it is that no matter what choice you make. They both have the potential to be compelling and make your readers swoon.
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