Adventures in Writing a Novel

Why did I ever pick this genre? #writing #amwriting #writerproblems #writerslife

Sometimes I often wondered if in choosing historical fiction I’ve automatically limited myself in regards to readers and book sales. If you were to ask me if I was worried, or if I would have not written my book or began my next because of the above fact, I would say no, but the thought has at least crossed my mind a few times. Being surrounded by SciFi/Fantasy and Thriller writers tells me my genre isn’t the most popular in the writing world.

Even though, novels like The Notebook and Water for Elephants are considered and labeled as historical novels, they aren’t the Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games books that have swept the world with millions of readers. But my goal for my book has never been to become a worldwide phenomenon, my goal is to be published and simply enjoyed by how ever many people buy it. Whether that number is 100 or 1,000 or 100,000.

One of the reasons I chose to write in the genre of historical fiction is I love history and I love learning about the history of this country. For my novels, I have chosen events and time periods that have most intrigued me.

Ones I could read about all day, every day.

With that said, though, writing in the historical fiction genre is hard. I remember one morning while researching for my first manuscript, I stared at the pages and pages of notes spread out all around me and I wanted to scream. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I just pick the Chick-lit genre where I write in this time era? Why didn’t I pick the Fantasy genre where I can make up my own world and that world history? Why? Why? Why? Oddly enough moments later the coffee hit my veins and I calmed down.

The idea for my first manuscript came from one of my favorite movies: The Last of the Mohicans. It’s a story that I spent countless years thinking that if I ever wrote a novel, I would write a story with characters like Nathaniel and Cora. While The Last of the Mohicans is set in 1775, Ohio, during the French Indian War, my novel The Woman on the Painted Horse is set in 1861 Alabama, just at the start of the Civil War.

I chose this time period over the other because I have always loved the antebellum period with the large plantation manors lined with oak trees and the big dresses that fancy women wore to elegant parties. And certainly, researching about the Native American culture helped. Reading about the lives of clans and tribes in the 1800’s only sparked my curiosity more. not to mention gave me another idea for a different novel.

For my next manuscript I chose another time period that is very intriguing time period for me – 1897 Klondike gold rush. While I’m enjoying the research, I have to admit that once again I’ve had moments of stress. With every start of each new chapter I’m coming across bumps in the road. What did train cars look like back then? How much did it even cost to ride the train and how long did it take to get from one particular city to another? What did houses look like? What types of material possessions were invented and who owned them – working class, the poor, the rich? How was it like traveling by train or by boat in 1897? And I think the most important question, what were the travels like for the people brave enough to face the Alaskan/Canadian wilderness through snow and ice on their quest for gold?

Certainly, as with my first novel, I have surrounded myself with non-fiction books full of first hand accounts of what everything was like on the trails of the Chilkoot pass. For all my other questions Google has once again become my best friend. Every time I open a book up or click ‘Search’, I feel better about my ability to describe and build the world I have too. The women’s stories of their trials and tribulations are interesting, and I have to say their courage amazes me.  I suppose every time I want to scream and pull my hair out I will just keep remembering why I chose historical fiction.

I love history, it interests me, and more importantly I love creating my character’s stories right smack-dab in the middle of it.

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10 thoughts on “Why did I ever pick this genre? #writing #amwriting #writerproblems #writerslife

  1. You love writing in this genre and it interests you. Sounds like it’s a perfect fit. 🙂 Historical romance in particular can be very popular for readers.

    Happy writing!

  2. Best of luck to you! Historical fiction seems like such a fun genre to write in because of all the research you get to do. But… I can see where it would be difficult at times, when even the smallest of details requires research. Keep on plugging away, though! I think the Klondike gold rush would be an awesome time to set a story –especially a story from a woman’s perspective. So often the stories from that time period and era are men’s.

  3. Please to meet you Angela! I noticed your blog anniversary and made sure to honour that but this is the post I found first. I love it and have an author friend who needs to see it: writing what you think is write, how you are drawn to do it, being glad of readership but not making popularity or (dare I say) marketability your goal. I often smile about finding things in common with others but my mouth actually fell open at similarities revealed here! Too much for a comment box.

    I’ll merely add for all including Writerlicious: you would be surprised I agonize as much over accuracy in straight fiction. My mystery / adventure (don’t yet know which) is in a real place. I want seasons to feel right, to describe the house well for when it was built… I put aside sheafs of notes and had to just write! No one is more surprised that making up a story is harder than real world research! Unemployment spurred me to get started too.

    “History of this country” wasn’t specified. Which country? I guessed the US, from a tendency to ‘assume American unless stated’. No fair! 😉

      1. Your country was clear in your anniversary blog and reference to the gold rush. Something else I was eager to tell you is that a lot of my favourite fiction (Phyllis A. Whiten) happens to be set in San Francisco! Rebecca Hale’s fiction is specifically educating me on gold rush history. I can’t say enough the hard work that non-historical fiction is too! I hope you & I both fret detail less and surge forth with our stories.

      2. I hope so too. I’m working on the outline again a little more right now which is helping calm me down about the timeline. I will have to look into Rebecca Hale’s books. Thanks for the info! Happy writing!

  4. Rebecca Hale is a fun current author, bringing her cats on quests for gold rush treasures. If you’ll try old novels, Phyllis’ gothic mysteries can’t be beat. See my blog about her. She lived to 104 (recently!) and wrote that many stories. Her two best are “The Mystery Of The Green Cat” 1956 and “The Trembling Hills” 1957; published not long after the San Francisco earth quake and fire mentioned in them!

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