On Writing, The Writer Gal Letter

Guest Post: 5 reasons why you should never write a historical romance

Hey y’all,

Her books are sticky, steamy with passion and her characters bring romance to life. In this jaded day and age where sexting is an acceptable form of courting, it’s nice to know such writers exist, who bring characters from a bygone era to our ebook readers. Presenting Summerita Rhayne, Indian Historical Romance Writer and a good friend of mine with her Top 5 reasons on why you shouldn’t write a historical romance!


Writer Gal


I feel I should make it clear that the key word here is not romance but historical.

Don’t take it the wrong way. I love everything to do with dates. I find delving into the dark mysteries of bygone times, intriguing. The prospect of tracing long lost footprints through the lens of my imagination is nothing short of magic to me. But having written and published two historicals, after one very rudimentary effort earlier on, I feel I can talk about writing historical romance with some assurance and I’m pretty sure all historical authors will agree with what I’m saying here.

Why shouldn’t you write a historical?

1. This is something you don’t realize until you actually begin to describe a scene properly in your story. This is especially true if you’re writing fiction set in the ancient world or –like me – in the early middle ages. It starts with an innocent looking gesture you want your character to make. Your hero is holding a drink in his hand… wait, you ask yourself, did they drink back then? Off you go to research wines and after poring through the material available – which consists of researching wine making to its roots and the exact method of preparation of mead – you can finally nod in satisfaction, ah yes, they did.

Wait, you say again, after typing not more than half a word. Would a king have a different sort of alcohol from a commoner? What sort of vessel did they use anyway? Glass, clay or gold? What was the shape of these vessels?

So you see, you can forget about the story. It will take you the whole day just to get that one gesture right.

2. Consider this. At a point in the story, I had to find if my hero could get on a trading ship in order to pilfer it (he sort of needed to) so just in case I had to mention the area etc., I decided to look up the maritime history of the Middle Ages. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I found! Did you know that the ancient ships in India were built without using nails because it was believed the iron immersed in water could be dangerous for the construction?

Trade was rife because of silk and spices produced in the region. Cargo weighing several tonnes was transported – as much as 75 or maybe even more. Even elephants could be transported by sea route. In fact, there are records of transporting rhinoceros and elephants to China by those ships. The more I read, the more fascinating it got. In the ancient times, the trade with the Romans was so flourishing that Roman gold to the tune of 1000,000 pounds found its way into India annually…!

At this time I glance absently at the time – oh my God three hours have gone by! My writing time has evaporated into a thin mist and my WIP glances reproachfully at me, demanding what has all that got to do with me?

Take it from me, it’s way too hard to stick to just writing when you are working on fiction of the times of yore.

3. Another reason why you should spare yourself the persistent pain of penning a historical is the confusion surrounding ancient history. The more you dig the facts, the more you find them contradicting your earlier findings.

In one instance, I had to refer to the humble beginnings of ancient emperor Chandragupta Maurya. There are multiple theories of his origins. Some medieval theorists say he was the son of a Nanda emperor, the lineage which he later defeated. Some ancient texts maintain that he was of a small Kshatriya, warrior, clan. A popular belief holds he was raised by peacock-tamers while it is even postulated that he was the grandson of a peacock-tamer. Which version would the reader find most believable? The process leaves you stymied.

4. Let me not even mention the parlance you unconsciously pick up. I found myself running conversation with a poetic touch in my head. Sometimes the cadence of chronologically recessive language spills over to the contemporary one that you’re writing. My next book hero started sounding, let’s say, a bit ponderous, at times. I had to keep nudging at him not to do it!

5. The most confusing dilemma is the one I have left for the last. There’s a thin line in making your historical believable as opposed to mind-boggling. This is even more baffling if your characters are daring and unorthodox. For instance, it’s easy to show your character breaking the rules in contemporary fiction, because we all know the rules, right? If they are young, they might defy parents or miss school. Similarly, they might dress against the fashion or be wildly creative at work. But in a historical, it’s hard because your readers may not be ready to believe how daring your character can be. You always have to keep checking if they sound credible. I might add, beta readers help a lot here. They let you know what works.

So you see that’s what writing ancient fiction amounts to.

Truthfully, there are many reasons not to do it but the reason you should do it is one which outweighs them all!

And that is if you love it. If you do, don’t let any of the above stop you.

I haven’t. 

*mentally shushes the sneaky third book characters nudging like mad to give their story a go.*

Here is the skinny on Summerita Rhayne – Indian Historical Romance Writer

Summerita Rhayne loves to write sensual and emotional romance. There’s no knowing when some quirky – or sometimes even not so quirky – happening in daily life might trigger her right brain and then she’s off craving a new story. She loves writing characters who learn and grow and find their way out of their troubles and emotional hang-ups. Hot, sensual heroes and sassy but sweet heroines mostly fit the bill in her stories. She also believes that a touch of humor never goes amiss in a book.

She divides her time between family, job and writing – and loves winding down with music, movies and the Internet.

Author links:

Twitter handle @SummeritaRhayne

Website: www.summeritarhayne.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Summerita-Rhayne/e/B00MZQ0PUC

Image Credit: Keepcalmandposters

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: 5 reasons why you should never write a historical romance”

  1. Hi Wisdomtree, happy to be of help 🙂 Do let me know if you were inspired or driven away from historical fiction? I’m still two steps forward, two steps back with this genre…at least until the characters start nudging me something fierce 😉
    Thanks for hosting me, Aarti. Lovely site, enjoyed being here 🙂


  2. Hey, why did I never see this post? It’s fabulous! I can totally see where this is all going, and I haven’t even written anything historical, just read it. As for Summerita’s books, they are pure gold!


  3. Indeed, it has a lot of catches……here I thought historical romance would be easy.
    I really enjoy your books Summerita and I can see why…so much research.
    Keep writing.
    Great post Aarti.


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