Blog Archive - January 2013

Best Author Award and Writing News!

bestauthor2012Hello all! 2013 has started off with a bang. I've been awarded Best Author in the Speak Its Name Awards 2012 which is a grand honor for me. Not only am I absolutely over the moon to have received this award, but to read the lovely things Erastes had to say about my writing.

As you all know, I'm very passionate about these particular eras in history, so to know I'm getting it right means a lot to me. I want to be true to the men of these times yet offer them their much deserved happily ever afters.

On another happy note, Julius's book, A Rose By Any Other Name is finally finished! I finished it on the 31st and is currently going through it's final beta run before I get it ready for submission, all 96k of it! For those of you who may not know, Julius's book is the second book in the Fallen Rose series, the first being Roses in the Devil's Garden where Julius first made an appearance.

Whereas the first book is about Harlan and Nathan, Prohibition Agents working the more grittier parts of town raiding saloons and illegal speakeasies, Julius's book takes place two years later and shows us the more decadent part of New York during the late 1920s where the well-to do are kicking up their heels with an 'anything goes' attitude. Prostitution, bootlegged liquor, illegal clubs, there's nothing these high-society fellas won't find themselves involved with, all in the name of frivolity and good times. And for those of you wondering, yes, Harlan and Nathan are in this book. I'll be sure to share more information as I get it.  Happy New Year!


Things are kinda quiet... too quiet...

So after my ridiculous drive back with the folks from Kansas where we spent Christmas with my brother and his family, the folks and I thought our last food stop might have given us food poisoning, as we spent New Year's Eve pretty poorly. Nope. We all contracted this super evil stomach virus and I haven't eaten anything but toast as of three days ago when the idea of eating didn't make me want to pass out. I haven't had coffee in five days!!! Why world?!  Of course the idea of not having my precious java has been made a little easier by the fact that merely standing up reminds me that my body is just one big ball of pain right now, especially my stomach.

Oh sweet JesusI've been mostly bed ridden and slept more this last week than I probably did in the last six months. On the one hand, my little bouts of energy between naps and medication have allowed me to finish Julius's book and now I'm tackling the synopsis. Oh my God, when you hear authors moaning about these things there's a good reason. I just wrote a 96,000 word book and am dying to send it off but there's this little piece of evil where I have to squish 96,000 words into 4 to 5 pages.

Okay, so I'm working on Julius's synopsis and a few other exciting things. I've also written 3,000 words of Johnnie's book. There's heart ripping emotion and drama, and of course some humor thrown in because you know me, I like to soothe you and cuddle you and make you smile before I try and break you down. Tee hee. Chance is in top form and Johnnie's not far behind. I'm really pleased how the fellas are getting on, or uh, not getting on. Seriously, I'm dealing with some combustible material here. Chance and Johnnie living in the same house. I'm having too much fun for my own good with these two.

Acrobat Mary CalmesIn between writing, when the medication wears off and it's all Land of Ouch again, I've been catching up on my reading. Here's what I've read: Kim Fielding's A Great Miracle Happened There, Madison Parker's Sock It To Me Santa, Ana Bosch's Lucky, Hayley B. James's Undercover Sins, and Mary Calmes Acrobat. Thoroughly enjoyed all of them, though some of these authors I've read their other books and I'm already a fan of. Mary Calmes I already apologized to for not having gotten around to her books earlier. I'd already heard so many great things about her stories, yet you know how these never ended tbr lists go, but I was feeling particularly rough and I know her books are on a lot of folks comfort list too, and I certainly needed some cozy comfort, so I started Acrobat and it was just perfect. I absolutely adored it and she officially has a new fan. The story, the characters, the plot, all had me captivated from the beginning. May I also point out how absolutely gorgeous that cover is? I love it.

I plan on getting around to the rest of her books most swiftly. I've got three books I plan to finish this weekend: Frog by Mary Calmes, Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk, and Water Waltz by Hayley B. James. Oh Hayley, sweet Hayley. Do you know what time I went to bed last night after starting Undercover Sins? 6 a.m. I kid you not. You can ask poor Michael Rupured who received an email from me at that time to confirm the link to his post and inform him of my bout of temporary book insanity. But I couldn't put it down because OH MY GOD I had to know what was going to happen with Demetrius and Ty. You *waggles finger*, wait till I see you again.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


The Power of Dreams

992166_2365335300Have you ever had a dream so vivid you wonder how the hell it was possible? The mind is an incredible thing, we know that, but I admit there's something I find absolutely fascinating about how we dream. See, I'd been fretting about Henry's character. He's one of my protagonists, the love of Johnnie's life. Yet I've been feeling disconnected from him. He hasn't been talking to me as much as the other fellas. Granted, when those other fellas are Johnnie and Chance, it's understandable. Anyone would be lucky to get a word in edgewise. I needed Henry to step up and stop being such a wall flower because if he wasn't careful, Johnnie's ostentatious personality was going to wipe him clear off the map.

This fretting was obviously floating around in the back of my mind when I dozed off last night, and the whole thing filtered into my dreams, because I dreamed I was in the 1930s. It was weird. It was one of those things where you kind of know you don't belong there yet you're still a part of it, a sort of semi-awareness. It's not the first time I've dreamed of a different time. (Welcome to the head of a historical writer). Anyway, the thing is, it was the 1930s. Not surprising considering how much of my day I spent trying to immerse myself in that time. What I found surprising was the incredible vividness of the dream. I swear, it was as if I had closed my eyes and woken up in that time.

I remember a restaurant, and the incredible detail of it just blew me away. I don't know what restaurant it was, whether it may have been something I had seen at some point somewhere or if my head had just made it up and turned the colors up full blast, but the details took my breath away. From the clothing the people were wearing to the gorgeous ceiling and the tiled floor. It breaks my heart that I can't remember much of it now, but I remember at the time just standing there in awe.

Just where had my head conjured up this place from? Believe me, I might know my era, but I'm nowhere near as good as that, where I can just piece something together off the top of my head. There was also a hotel lobby and busy sidewalks at night, all illuminated by signs. Mostly I remember indoors. I remember a good deal of it was sort of in a shopping arcade, which is where this restaurant was. I remember green marble tiles in a diamond pattern on the floor with white marble tiles. Lots of gold inside the restaurant, intricate designs.

HenryNow the best part was, there was a man in a dark blue, three-piece suit walking beside me. He had his hands in his pockets and a gray felt hat on his head with a black ribbon around it. He was tall, slender, very unassuming, soft spoken, and handsome, though I couldn't see his face clearly. He would talk with his head lowered. I couldn't see what color his hair was. Then I remember he took me back somewhere. There was a gift shop, but it was closed. I remember sun coming in through a window on my left and cloth tarps covered a good deal of the furniture. Even though I can't remember what he was talking about, I remember there was an odd sense of peace mixed with sadness. Either it was him giving off this sadness or it was whatever he was talking about.

When I turned, I saw a table filled with pretty souvenirs. They were British. I knew then the man was Henry. Henry's English, you see. He's tall, slender, unassuming, soft spoken, and handsome. For the life of me, I can't remember what Henry was talking to me about. I wish I could say I woke up and knew everything there was to know about him, but I didn't. I did wake up feeling a little more connected to him. It might sound strange, and a little silly, but I also woke up feeling somewhat sad. Because for a moment, he had been there, real and in the flesh, living and breathing like any other person we talk to on a daily basis. Except he was a man of his time, and in the here and now, he would have passed on many a year ago. Henry was gone.

What does this mean for the story? Well, it's made things a little more complicated, so hold onto your hats. See, now that it feels as if I've met Henry in person, I can't get into his head. I've mulled over the POV of Johnnie's book endlessly. At first it was going to be Johnnie's POV because the first book was written from Chance's POV and I thought I should continue that. Then it changed to third so I could get into other characters' heads. Now, it only feels right doing it from Johnnie's point of view, to see and feel things through him, and most importantly, to see Henry through Johnnie's eyes, the way I saw him through my own. See, there's a reason they say we writers are screwy. So I feel as if I can't let Henry down. I have to give a life and a love worthy of the man who had walked beside me in that shopping arcade. Henry, I apologize in advance for what Johnnie will put you through, but I promise you, you'll get your happily ever after.

x Charlie


Charlie's Guide to Writing Historical Gay Romance - Introduction

WIP WedsmallHello everyone! Last year I started a series of posts on writing, and now that a new year is upon us, I thought it might be nice to continue it. As I was thinking about what topic to start with, I realized the one thing I haven't covered is a key part of my writing and the source of so many wonderful comments from folks: writing historical romance.

Now this guide isn't the ultimate guide or anything. This is just how I go about writing my historical gay romances. Heaven knows there are amazing authors out there who have been doing this far longer than I have, but if you're interested in how I do it, then hopefully you'll enjoy it.

I know the very idea of writing a historical seems daunting to some folks. Many wonderful authors I know would love to write one, but fear getting it wrong. I won't lie, it's A LOT of hard work, but once you lay the foundation of your research, it gets much easier. Granted, if I was hopping all over the timeline of history, I might drive myself barmy, but as I tend to stick mostly to the 20's and 30's, it does get a little easier for me research-wise.

So this series will consist of 5 parts. They are the following:

Part 1: Character (Creating your character's mindset, fashion, speech patterns) Part 2: Atmosphere (Feel of your historical) Part 3: Setting (Society's mindset, timeline, locations, maps, photos, references) Part 4: Details (Creating believability, reference material, music, furniture) Part 5: Conclusion (Putting it all together)

In this series I'll go over everything from creating character, how they dress, talk, interact with those around them, their speech patterns, handling slang, to creating a world for them in a specific time, how they function within that society and the little details which add believability before summarizing it all up. The above are just some of the topics I'll be covering but there will be plenty more in each post.

Here's the schedule: (Wednesdays)

Part 1: Jan 16th Part 2: Jan 23rd Part 3: Jan 30th Part 4: Feb 6th Part 5: Feb 13th

♥ I'm happy to take questions or requests. If you have something you'd like me to address specifically, please feel free to leave your question or comment here on the blog, on Goodreads, or feel free to email me.

x Charlie


Work In Progress - Johnnie's Book

I've been making the most out of the fellas and their momentary chattiness. Of course this would happen as I'm trying to get Julius's synopsis done. I swear, they're like a bunch of kids. When I want them to talk, they're all quiet and serene, then the moment one of them starts chatting, they all want to talk at once and be the center of attention. I have Johnnie on somewhat of a schedule and am trying to do less of the hopping around stories, and more of the working on one thing at a time. It worked for Julius's book, and so far *fingers crossed*, it seems to be working for Johnnie.

So I decided to share a scene. Here Johnnie has been behaving like his usual charming self while Chance is getting real tired of his bull and calls him out on it. It's first person POV, Johnnie's obviously. For those who don't know Johnnie, he was in The Auspicious Troubles of Chance as one of the brats, had just turned 19, was a pain in Chance's backside, foulmouthed, loud, and could drive anyone insane. He was also very troubled and reminded Chance too much of himself at that age. Now Johnnie is all grown up, 27 years old, devastatingly handsome, but just as troubled, foulmouthed, and can still drive anyone insane. But especially Chance. I think this scene sums up the dynamics between grown up Johnnie, Chance and Jacky pretty well.

♥♥♥

“What do I keep telling you?” I thought hard for a moment. “Don’t leave the toilet seat up?” “Besides that.” “Which by the way makes no sense. We’re all guys.” There were eight bathrooms in the house. Did he realize how many toilet seats that was to keep track of? What was I, keeper of the bog? I couldn’t be the only one in a house full of fellas who left it up. That was just statistically unsound. “That don’t mean we gotta live like animals.” “When did you become such a dame?” “About the same time you became a real prick.” I merely shrugged the insult off. “Takes one to know one I guess.” Chance came to loom over me, his index finger inches away from my nose. “Now you listen to me you ungrateful little shit. Henry doesn’t need to be on the receiving end of your bullshit. He deserves more respect than that.” “Fuck you.” I swatted his hand away with a growl. He knew how much I hated when he did that, which of course was why he did it. “I know you’re looking for a fight, but I ain’t giving you one.” “Oh? And what the hell would you call this?” “This is me worried about you and you know it.” I let out a resigned sigh, my shoulders slumping. Chance had a habit of making me feel like that lost nineteen year old kid he’d met back in the desert. It seemed like a lifetime ago. “All right then.” He pressed his lips together before giving me a wink and held his arms out. “Come here and give me a hug.” “Lay off.” I tried my hardest not to laugh and reminded myself I was annoyed with him. When I folded my arms over my chest and moved away from him, he gave up and walked over to the wingback chair, taking a seat and looking like the goddamn king of the castle. “You’ll give in one of these days.” I scoffed at that. “Over my dead body.” “That can be arranged all too easily.” “You are unbelievable,” I said, shaking my head at the truly sinister smile on his face. “I know.” “That wasn’t a compliment.” “Wasn’t it? It sure sounded like one to my ears.” “Yeah well, you are screwy in the head.” “I keep hearing compliments.” “Shut up.” I narrowed my eyes at him and shoved my hands in my pockets. Why the hell was I sticking around? Surely it wasn’t because I wanted to. That would really mean it was time for me to get carted off to the loony bin. Chance, however, wasn’t all that concerned about the daggered look I was giving him, as per usual. I, on the other hand, was very concerned about the stupid smile on his face. It meant he was up to something. “Remember what Jacky says, frowns are nothing but upside down smiles.” “Jeepers Creepers, would you just shut the fuck up?” “Glen’s a high-brow, gold-digging grease-ball.” I froze to the spot. So we finally got to the heart of the matter. How did the bastard always manage to get the drop on me? No matter how ready I was to plant a fist in his face, Chance always knew how to burst my temperamental bubble. Damn him. I flopped down onto the couch feeling drained. “I know.” “So why do you keep seeing him?” I shrugged. Sure, I could make up a bunch of baloney, but Chance would see right through it. He always did. “I do.” My gaze shifted up to me his smug one. “Well don’t let me stop you from dazzling me with your brilliance.” He chuckled. “Was I ever such a wiseass?” “What the hell are you talking about? You still are!” “Hm. Anyway, it’s because it’s easy.” “Easy?” Well that was news to me. Glen had to be the most obnoxious Brit I had ever met. “You think putting up with his pain in the ass is easy?” I donned my best prissy accent. “Johnnie do stop slouching. Johnnie take me to London. Johnnie I need a new waistcoat.” Sometimes I just wanted to plant one in his whiny, pasty face. “Easier than risking your heart and the heart of a good man like Henry. Yeah, it’s far easier. I should know.” Damn him and his sound logic. “And here I thought Jacky just kept you around ‘cause you’re pretty.” “Nope.” Chance wriggled his brows. “I happen to be amazing in the sack too.” I groaned. Loudly. “Please shut up.” “I do this thing with my tongue—” “You are a monster!” I jumped to my feet, ignoring his laughter, and started to pace the room. “Good talk.” “Piss off!” My God, how the hell did Jacky put up with him? Speaking of Jacky, when I looked up, he was walking into the room. He came to stand next to Chance who made to give up his seat when Jacky simply put a hand to his shoulder. Jacky smiled widely at me. “Having a heart to heart?” I didn’t reply, merely narrowed my eyes at him. Chance decided to answer for me. “Yep.” “How’s it going?” “Good,” Chance replied, smiling at me. “He hasn’t even taken a swing at me yet.” Jacky’s eyebrows went up. “Really?” He gave a nod and patted Chance on the back. “Impressive.” “There’s still time,” I grumbled, wondering if they had somehow forgotten I was still in the room with them. “I’m wearing him down,” Chance said pleasantly. Jacky seemed pleased. “See? What did I tell you?” “Don’t strangle him?” “And hasn’t that worked out well?” Chance shrugged. “It’s not as fun.” I was standing right there. “You two are unbelievable.” “I know,” Jacky replied with a chuckle. “He’s corrupted you.” I couldn’t help my pout. “I don’t know why you keep him around.” When Jacky’s eyes got that mischievous look, I should have run for the hills. “He’s good in the sack. He does this thing with his tongue—” “Jesus! What is wrong with you two?” I threw my arms up, gagging when Chance leaned up to kiss Jacky. How could two such hardboiled mugs be so squishy and lovey and I think I’m gonna to be sick. “I love you,” Chance purred. Jacky planted a kiss on the tip of Chance’s nose. “I love you too, snugglepup.” “I’m getting out of here before you two make me lose my lunch.” When I walked out, it was to the sound of their infectious laughter, and damn it, if I didn’t end up with a dopey grin on my face. Bastards, the lot of them.

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Charlie's Guide to Writing Historical Gay Romance - Part 1: Character

Charlies GuideHello and welcome to Part 1 of my guide to writing historical gay romance. As I stated during the introduction, this isn't a definitive guide, just merely how this author goes about writing m/m historicals. Getting your characters right is vital, because no matter how amazing and accurate a world you build for them, if your character doesn't fit in with that world, your believability will suffer, and your readers will have trouble staying immersed.

When creating a historical character, there are many things I take into consideration before I start piecing him together. Before you can start giving him quirks and personality traits, a job or secret crush, there are some very important details you have to work out first.

1. Manner of speech - Where a character was born, where he grew up, and where he ends up will have a profound effect on what he sounds like. If your book is set in Europe, especially Great Britain, your character's speech will be determined by what region and social class he grew up in, unless he moves from one class into another or is self-taught. It is possible a character born and raised in a certain area can teach himself to speak with a posh accent. I know a few folks who've done this. In Britain, there has always been a very profound separation of class, and depending on what part your character is from, there's dialect to consider.

downton_abbey3

Each region carries its own accent, and believe me, each one is very distinct. The slang is different, the phrases they use, names for things, swear words, even the speed at which they talk. If your character is from Manchester, he's not going to talk the same way as a fella from London's East End. And I know it may seem silly, especially to my lovely Brit friends, but not a lot of American folks know that England and Great Britain are not interchangeable. Great Britain (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) includes Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and many smaller islands, whereas England is part of the United Kingdom, bordering Scotland and Wales. Then there's the British Empire. It wasn't that far back that the British Empire held sway over a huge chunk of the world's population, with colonies and territories from Fiji to Canada. You don't have to research every country and who was under whose administration, but at least be aware, especially so if your character is going to move about.

If your book is set in America, again, there are still social classes to consider, back then even more so than now, and this, along with the region will influence how your character talks. In The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, both Chance and Jacky were raised in New York, though Chance being an orphan and growing up on the streets has a much rougher way of talking than Jacky. He uses a lot of slang, talks faster, swears a hell of a lot more (though that's more part of his charm than anything), and his accent is stronger, whereas Jacky is the opposite. Also because of the time Jacky spent in England, his accent isn't fully American. English phrases, slang, and words occasionally slip into his speech. In A Rose By Any Other Name, the erotes: Julius, Lawry, and Terry, speak properly, but it's something they were taught. Before they began work at The Pantheon, they were prostitutes in the Bowery. They're orphans and grew up on the streets in the worst parts of town. Underneath the high-society primness, there's a completely different layer of speech, which can slip out during certain circumstances. Hawk, from The Amethyst Cat Caper is self-taught. He came from a humble family, but studied for a while at Harvard. To fit in, he taught himself to speak properly. Despite his time working as a Pinkerton, he maintained his manner of speaking though he mixes it up with some street slang. When he gets in a lather, or drunk, he reverts to his old way of talking. Back then, not all children and adults received a school education, so keep that in mind as well.

public enemy cagneyOnce you've decided how you want your character to talk, find a video or sound file of someone from whatever region you've chosen so you get an idea of the accent. If your book is set during a time that has documentaries available, even better. Granted, some of my characters, like P.I. Bruce Shannon, have a somewhat exaggerated way of talking. I doubt most fellas really talked like James Cagney, but my goal was to emulate that slightly over the top, Classic Hollywood movie feel. Depending on the effect I want, I'll watch old movies, documentaries, read books by authors of that time, or memoirs in order to get an idea how folks talked. The point is, research real people. Don't just refer to something you saw in a movie, because let's face it, history through the eyes of Hollywood isn't the most reliable source.

Also, don't forget that slang words and phrases have dates of origin and expiration, and they can also take on different meanings over the years. For instance the word 'queer' in reference to homosexuality wasn't used until the 1920's. Before then, it meant odd. Online Etymology Dictionary is a great place to start if you're unsure whether a certain word was used during a specific period and if it meant the same thing.

2. Mindset - Now this is extremely important. This can make or break your character. Say you've done loads of research. You've gone cross-eyed from the amount of articles and books you've read through to create the perfect setting, and suddenly it all falls apart because your character thinks and acts like today's modern man. Obviously, if you're writing a sort of costume drama, and you want your fellas to hold hands while walking down the street, that's up to you and there's nothing wrong with that. There's room in the genre for all types of historical romances, but if you want a story with historical accuracy, even if there's elements of paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi in it, you MUST research homosexuality in that period AND in that region.

How society viewed homosexuality will have a profound effect on your characters, how they see themselves, how they behave, think, and interact with other characters. It's surprising how drastically things change in the span of a few years. You don't have to know every detail of every era, but you need to research your era and probably the eras surrounding it. I write in the 20's and 30's, mainly in New York. In that one city, in a span of ten years, there was a drastic change in society and how folks viewed homosexuality. Although homophobia and danger was rife in 1920's New York, the 1930's brought new laws and new levels of intolerance. During the 1920's, in Paris and Berlin, gay culture was even more visual and prominent than in places like New York City. The closer we get to WWII, the more frightening things become.

Geroge Chauncey

If you plan on writing a gay historical, I highly recommend you read George Chauncey's Gay New York, Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940.  I know it says New York, but it's a great place to start, because you're aware of how certain things did or didn't happen, which you can then research to find out whether the same went for whatever city you're writing about. Don't make it the only book you read, but certainly pick it up. It's written in an engaging way, lists a great many sources, and refers to actual letters written by gay men of that time. Most importantly, it helps you understand where and when the concept and labeling of 'homosexuality' and 'heterosexuality' came from, and it'll surprise most folks to find that these terms, this division of men is a relatively new one. Depending on when your story takes place, is the label society uses for gay men. Behavior that would be deemed 'queer' in the 1930's, may not have been deemed as such in the 1800's.

Even if you have characters who have come to accept their homosexuality, they're still very aware of what that means to the outside world, and it will reflect in what they do. Depending on the period of history, how they view themselves and their homosexuality will differ. So the first thing you have to ask yourself is, does your character accept what he is? If he does, it's not something that happens overnight. No matter his age, he can't just realize suddenly he's gay and then go out to find true love. The truth is, many gay men throughout history led double lives. At home with their families, at their jobs, with their friends, they were heterosexual, and it was all kept separate from their life in 'gay society'. Many gay men couldn't accept it. They loathed themselves, some believed they were mentally ill, because there was a time when it was considered a mental illness. Some sought to 'cure' themselves, others were sent to be 'cured' by family. Who is your character and how does he feel about being gay? How long did it take him to understand? What did he go through in order to accept it if he did?

Winyan Soo HooThe complexity of gay men throughout history is something you'll have to read up on, because even if I only covered the 1920's and 30's, I'd need several posts just for those ten years, and as I mentioned, it will depend on the era you're writing. No matter how 'open-minded' your character may be, he can't kiss another man out in the open. He can't hold hands with another fella, can't have eye sex, brazenly flirt, and the list goes on. Not without consequences, or if your guy is in a specific environment, like a gay club, and even then it may have to be discreet. In A Rose By Any Other Name, The Pantheon is a secret cabaret for gay men from high-society. Each member has something to lose if they expose another, and as they're all men of wealth with high social standing, they'll do what's necessary to maintain their secret. Inside The Pantheon, men kiss, grope, and do all sorts of naughty things out in the open and in darkened booth because it's a safe environment. There's no danger of being raided, and members are considered through recommendation only, with members being accepted only by the hostess herself. What they do in there, none of them would ever so much as hint to out in the open.

Again, depending on the era, you also have to consider how these gay men view other gay men, because yes, it does differ throughout history. I know this is an overwhelming amount of information, but once you choose your time frame, it narrows things down a lot and makes research so much easier. I chose specifically to write in 1920's and 30's America-- because they're the eras I'm most passionate about, so I only had to go as far back as the late 1800's and as forward as the 1940's to get a clear understanding of things. Sure, I didn't have to, but I wanted to know what led to folks thinking the way they did in the periods I write in, what came before and after. You might ask what the point of all this is. Why go through such lengths? Because aside accuracy, you know what else this does? Minimizes info dump. If your characters think, act, talk, and breath an era long gone, you don't have to write out pages and pages of historical facts. This is where 'show, don't tell' can make a big difference.

Remi suit

3. Fashion - Who your character is, his age, and what social class he's from will reflect in his outward appearance. Hats were a staple pretty much up until the 1950's and early 60's, and gentlemen rarely left the house without one. If your fella is from a humble background, he isn't going to walk around wearing tailored three-piece suits and silk shirts, unless he's getting his money from somewhere else. How much detail you go into is up to you. Personally, I don't go into a great amount of detail unless it's pertinent to the story. In The Amethyst Cat Caper, I pretty much describe everything Remi is wearing because it says a lot about his character and his style. For him, I sought out a signature suit, because of all my fellas, Remi is the most conscious of his appearance. He's the owner of a high-society tea house with swanky patrons, so he must always look his best, whereas with Hawk, it's a black overcoat, black three-piece suit, white shirt, black tie, black shoes, and dark gray felt hat with black ribbon around the crown.

If there isn't a cause for it, like with Remi, I tend to loosely describe a fellas attire. If he's wearing a suit, I tend to mention color, any notable pattern such as pinstripe, color of his tie, and shirt. I might mention various states of undress, if he's sans his suit jacket, maybe just in a vest, sleeves rolled up, depending on what's going on. I assume folks know when I mention a hat--what with a story being in the 1920's or 30's, that I don't mean a baseball cap. If I describe a hat, it'll be either as a felt hat--maybe the color and ribbon color, or flat cap. The point is, you don't need to mention by name every single cross-stitch or item of clothing, especially when you go way back in history and have numerous layers to deal with--unless it's important to the scene or the character. Shoes: brogues, leather, maybe spats or boots. It is, however, important to know what was worn and what wasn't. If you're going to go through a great deal of trouble describing the cut of a character's waistcoat, make sure that cut was actually worn at the time. Gangsters in the 1920's dressed far more flamboyantly than regular folks. Take hairstyles into consideration. Fashion changed drastically after WWI, bringing about the birth of the teenager. It gave us flappers and dapper daddies. Society faced a different kind of war, old world traditions versus new.

Conclusion to Part 1: After you know the type of story you want to tell, what era it takes place in, and your setting, start developing how your character thinks, talks, and behaves. In order to do that, you must be aware of the world around him, what society thinks of him, and what he thinks of himself. Remember society has come a long way, and you can't judge your fellas by today's standards. There have always been bigots, but what is politically incorrect today, may not have been then, what words are taboo today may not have offended then. Words take on different meanings, slang changes. You shouldn't sacrifice authenticity, but certain situations can be handled with care, if you're worried about political correctness.

I hope you enjoyed Part 1. Stay tuned next week for Part 2: Atmosphere. If there's anything I didn't address here that you would like me to discuss, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. If you want to read about how I develop my characters' personalities, love interests, pasts and such, you can check out this series of posts here.


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