Quick writers guide through history

I’m contemplating a change of subgenre and thought I’d share with you my thoughts on what I find (1)attractive (2) unattractive about each period. So here goes.

1. Much nudity. Men with big swords.
2. Public unisex toilets, cheek-to-cheek. Think of the meet-cute. “I’m sorry, is that your sponge?”

Dark Ages
1. The stuff of legends e.g., Camelot. Men with big swords.
2. Filth and misery. No public toilets at all, private ones dubious.

1. Castles. Men with big swords.
2. Filth and misery. No public toilets at all, private ones dubious. Child marriages.

1. Silks, lace, velvet, swashbuckling stuff. Men with big swords.
2. Filth and misery. One known (official) public toilet on London Bridge, private ones dubious. Child marriages. Elizabeth I.

Civil War/Restoration
1. Silks, lace, velvet, swashbuckling stuff. Sieges. Men with long hair and big swords.
2. Filth and misery. One known (official) public toilet on London Bridge, private ones dubious. Plague.

Eighteenth Century
1. Silks, lace, velvet, swashbuckling stuff. Men with high heels and smaller swords.
2. Filth and misery, wigs, and you don’t even want to ask about the toilets.

1. Cotton, linen, wool, elegance, manners, some indoor plumbing. Men with tight pants, swordsticks, vinaigrettes.
2. Filth and misery, repression.

1. None that I can think of other than infrastructure and some indoor plumbing.
2. Filth and misery, repression, and everything else.

1. Nice clothes for women. Indoor plumbing. Men with big walking sticks.
2. Filth and misery, repression, World War I looms ahead.

No wonder we writers have to reinvent history.

Your ideas?

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11 years ago

I sensed a theme going through this post: If the men didn’t have big swords, then they had big walking sticks. I guess size DOES matter!

Stephanie Dray
11 years ago

I object. The Romans had indoor plumbing and indoor heating under their tiled floors. They also bathed a lot. But you’ve got me on the shared toilet sponges…

Victoria Janssen
11 years ago

You could go post-World War One and have Influenza!!!

11 years ago

Still laughing over cheek to cheek. Of course Janet is also the Queen of the Water Closet. One can never have enough WCs in romantic fiction.

11 years ago

So are you trying to stay in England even though you are looking for a new time period? (Just curious). Because I think that all over the place things were the same and yet different. Like during the medieval time period in Wales women could divorce their husbands for three reasons: 1) If he cheated on her under his own roof 2) If he mistreated her i.e. beat her 3)If he had bad breath, which might be my favorite reason for divorce.

I once had this idea of writing a time traveling series where there was a couple that went through the mating dance and then got together in the end. But once they were together for some reason they traveled to a new time and it happened all over again. These are the time periods that most interest me although they all have their drawbacks:

Italian Renaissance
Dutch Golden Age (Rembrandt,Vermeer
Salem Witch Trials (USA)
Bavarian Enlightenment(Germany)
Federalist Era (USA)
Discovery Egypt (what I call the time period between the 1800s and the 1920s when all sorts of fun archeological things were being discovered in Egypt)
Napoleonic France
Regency England
Victorian Era (England)
Gilded Age (New York)
Czarist Russia
Edwardian Era (England)
WW II (USA or European front)
Modern Times

I know it’d be impossible to write about all of them especially since many overlap, but those are time periods I’m interested in.

11 years ago

*giggling helplessly*

Oh dear Lord, these are just priceless!

“and you don’t even want to talk about the toilets”


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Susanna Fraser
11 years ago

See, half the reason I write Napoleonic Era/Regency war stories is that the men can still have big swords. And horsies. If I ever wrote a contemporary I’d probably have to set it among thoroughbred breeders or Olympic equestrians just to keep the horsie part.

11 years ago

Thanks for the quick history lesson!

11 years ago

What’s wrong with Liz I?

Surely, a plus is Bess Hardwick, richest woman in the land. (Although, I’m getting a strong “huge tracts of land” thought ala Monty Python)

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

No wonder I love Historicals. Today’s man doesn’t carry a big sword OR a big walking stick.

11 years ago

No, Diane, just a big ego.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

LOL–they just THINK they have a big sword 🙂

And I like Elizabeth I…

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Thanks for my laugh after a long day at work!

Can I assume then, that if my Regency hero carries neither a big sword nor a big walking stick he must not have anything for which he needs to compensate? Just thinking out loud. And trying very hard not to use the WC in ANY time era!

Alyssia /ah-LIS-ee-ah/
11 years ago

Thing is, I’m not so sure our contemporary society is that much better. LOL ~ Great post, Janet! 🙂

11 years ago


Did you have to go to the bathroom when you wrote this? 🙂

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

AT LAST, someone who focuses on the important facts of any time period!

My bff accused me of having a bathroom fetish because where ever I travel, I always give her a report on public toilet facilities. Hey, this is important to me! And I happen to have a couple of cool snapshots of that Roman public potty in Ephesus.


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