You may laugh that I refer to these characters as my friends. But there's a strange thing that happens when I sink deeply into another world; it's as if I'm right there with the characters. I'm part of the action. This is one reason it's a good thing that I write fiction because when I do, I'm right there, living out each of my characters actions in my mind, thinking their thoughts, plotting their schemes.
What can today's historical romance writer learn from Downton Abbey? Remember that:
- Setting is a character. We must provide enough rich detail that our settings become places that our readers want to return to again and again. Just take a look at Highclere Castle and your heart may skip a beat, or the beauty of the place may make you sigh in wonder and delight. Heaven. Simply heaven.
- Characterization is what keeps us coming back: If we didn't care about what happened to characters in our novels then no one would read them and where's the fun in that? If you watched Downton Abbey you just had to love Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Her wit is what made me sit up and pay attention whenever she was on screen. Here is some more about characters.
- Attention to detail is a must: None of us are perfect and we may make mistakes, but it's so very important to try and get historical detail accurate. One of the places that can make our novels shine is if we know what our characters were wearing in the time period we write about. A special detail I like to include and remembered to do so in my book, Chameleon, is let your readers know what your characters were reading. I think that's such a good way to ground readers in time. Here are some details your sure to enjoy.
- Romance is best filled with tension: If all the love stories in Downton had no conflict then what would be the interest? Not much. But the writers know there stuff and kept me wondering what would happen next. And in case you ever doubted you must know that A Kiss Is Just A Kiss. But if you hang out with Julie Lessman for long you'll learn that a kiss is NOT just a kiss. Remember that and you'll go far. Wanting develops strong desire and tension between characters. Just watching Lady Mary and Matthew tangle with the emotions of their love for each other is a clear indication that desire is alive and well between these characters. Did you catch that kiss?