Friday, March 3, 2017

Writing With a Split Personality

The advice most agents and editors give to writers is pick a genre and stick with it. Don't be hopping all around. It's too hard to gather a single tribe to buy your books when you spread yourself too thinly amongst different genres.

But even when writing in a single category you can still develop a split personality. Example: I write historical fiction. That's the broad genre. But my books vary from Colonial America to Regency England. There's only about a 50 year difference, which you wouldn't think would be that big of a gap, but whoa baby, there are some huge differences.

So if you're wondering how to write with your own split personality, here are a few tips I've learned over the years . . .

1. Watch the Language

Of course word choices are going to be different when writing a thriller vs a sci fi vs a western. But even if you're not that diversified, you still have to be careful and research language selection for the specific era you're writing in.

Example: An American Colonial wanting to get a horse to move would say, "Hyah," but a Regency gentleman or woman would instead say, "Walk on." 

2. Watch the Dress

This one is pretty straight forward. Be careful about not only the clothing styles you choose but the fabric as well.

Example: Both Colonials and Regency ladies might wear cotton, but in England, it would be of a more sheer texture such as muslin or gauze, and definitely there would be more silks because of a greater trade with the Indies.

3. Watch the Mannerisms

People in different cultures and during different ages have different mannerisms. Think about today's teens compared to those of the 1950's or 1890's. Huge difference.

Example: Colonial men were generally less refined than Regency gentlemen mostly from necessity. Survival took precedence over pretty manners.

Don't get too bent out of shape about these things when you're writing your rough draft, but definitely look for these bugaboos during a final edit.

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