Ever read Jane Austen? How about Georgette Heyer? These two ladies set the standard for romances about early nineteenth-century England, and they still remain on the bestseller lists, decades after their deaths. Their work spawned an entire romantic subgenre that has grown to encompass single title romances, mysteries both cozy and gritty, inspirational stories, and even speculative literature. Readers of Regency-set stories are loyal and voracious, and the advent of e-books has sent previously published stories onto the charts once again.
- Dialogue can draw you in. Regency romances are famous for their witty banter, and language plays a key role in the shared world feeling. A gentleman might drive his cattle (horses) through the ton (the better society of London) so that others might consider him an out-and-outer (impressive fellow). A lady might invite her bosom beau (best friend) to her at home (time available to receive callers) so that they might have a nice coze (talk). What words and phrases are unique to the world you’re building? How can you sprinkle them most effectively to pull the reader deeper into that world?
- The right details matter. Research can be seductive, and historical periods aren’t the only ones rich in detail to uncover. Which you choose can make a difference in the pacing and depth of your story. Which details move the plot forward? The candlestick found still burning when no one was supposed to be awake? A missing candy box shaped like a woman’s slipper? What details illuminate character? The hideous rug your hero keeps in his bedchamber because it reminds him of his late wife? The pair of boots your heroine’s father had specially made for her when she first started riding because he was so proud of her?
- Setting can be character. Society in Regency England was a demanding place, and woe betide the gentleman or lady who forgot it. The rules of that Society influence character as well as plot. Take the hero who is “the spare,” the second son of an aristocrat, passed over for title and often the bulk of the wealth. Is he angry at his fate, envious of older his brother’s favored status, or relieved that he has more choices for his vocation? What role does setting play in yours story? How can you use it to advantage to deepen characterization or propel your plot?