Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Did You Pick That Time Period For Your Contemporary?

OK., let me just say that I am someone who loved the 80's. Actually, I loved the music of the 80's, and yes, I did have a Members Only Jacket. But, with that said, if I were to write a contemporary romance, I would not set it in the 80's. I would set it in the present.

As an agent, I am always wondering what it is that motivates an author to set their contemporary romance in these more contemporary times, primarily the 60's-90's. If the purpose of the romance is to watch a blooming relationship, and that IS the central focus, then putting in these other time periods do not make much of a sense.

I do try hard to figure out what was going on in the person's head when he or she wrote the story and to this day, I cannot figure it out. The time period ends up having nothing to do with the story line, and, in the end, it all reads like a regular story. Other than a token reference to something in that time period, that is about it.

If you are a fiction writer, you have to remember that moving it to a different time period is the same as putting a new character in your book. The setting does need to be treated just like a dominant secondary character. There has to be a relevant reason for doing this.

I did have one author, during a pitch session, tell me why she set her contemporary romance in the 70's. Her heroine was trying to track down a relative and she wanted to make sure that computers and the Internet were not available. That was it. REALLY? There are a ton of other ways you can craft a story to keep that relative hidden away from the heroine. When she moved it to that time period, she ended up having to create that new FULL layer to the story, which, unfortunately, took the readers away from the real meat of the story.

As you determine that setting, it is important that you treat your "contemporary" story just like the historical authors would. They picked that time period for a reason. There was a conflict going on at that time. There was significance to that time. And more importantly, that time period DOES play a role in the story.

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