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  • Writer's pictureElsie King

Editing a Regency Novel

I wrote my first novel, A Suitable Bride four years ago. It is set in the Regency era, has a romantic theme and a happy ending. I wanted to emulate the writers of the time, Jane Austen, Emily and Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickons, although he came later.

Having no real idea about writing I wrote the book as if I was in the Regency era, adopting the verbose style, the extensive vocabulary, the adverbs, profuse explanations and the pedantic dialogue of the time.

I also added back story, reflections, omniscient point of view and some detailed descriptions that I used to get across the ambience of the era. I did a lot of telling as well as showing. As a consequence my book is a slower read than modern romances, although it does have conflicts and tensions along the way.

The problems emerged when I got feedback from readers, critiques, editors and competition judges. Some of them loved the style and I received fabulous encouragement, others commented on such things as pacing, use of adverbs, wordiness (is that a word?) and telling too much and showing too little.

Confusion reigned. I took in most of what was suggested and settled down to change my book to make it fit modern romance readers. I was determined to reduce my word count, delete adverbs stop explaining things and deleted attributions. No more snorting, gasping, exclaiming. I went along with the adage cutting is always a good thing to do. I attempted to change the style, my style for this historically placed novel and it didn't work. My word count remained stubbornly fixed and I realised that making my prose fit the rules of modern romances changed markedly my intention of capturing the era in my prose.

Writing style is in constant flux. The rules of today don't fit with historical fiction and yet historical fiction lives and is revered by millions. So, I question if the modern rules can be used when a author is placing their story in a historical era? I have decided to retain the essence of my historical style and not edit it to fit with modern ideas about what makes good prose.

I would love to know if other authors have struggled with this dilemma.

Cheers © Elsie King 2023

Painting Colourful Rose © L.C.Wong 2023

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