Writing out of your era…
Descriptive writing brings text alive for readers. It allows the movie to roll in a reader’s’ mind, but only if the language is vivid and the description is real. Fantasy requires the author to create suspension of reality with believable description. Those setting aren’t necessarily real, but they do need to be plausible.
For authors writing in real communities and in specific eras, description can be brutally critical. That little mistake of placing a smartphone in a character’s hand in the year 1970 isn’t little at all.
What do you do to stay true to the time period of your setting?
Read. Read books in the period of your novel. Read articles from major city newspapers that can be found in online archives. Watch old films. There is no excuse for omitting rich details that paint an accurate and time-specific setting.
When your characters walk into a plush hotel or restaurant in the 1950s, do you know what that should look like? If there is a high-society event, do you know how people would be dressed? If not, find out! Were ties wide or narrow; were hemlines short or long?
Do a simple search on topics like women’s fashion, home furnishings, home decor, fashion designers, or even real estate of the decade you need. Using celebrity news archives will often produce descriptions of clothing.
Are characters enjoying a ride in a plush Rolls Royce of the 1980s? What did that look like, feel like? Research automobiles of the era. Choose one that suits the character’s persona, but be sure to describe it well. The reader needs to feel the luxury, if that’s what you need to promote.
Be open to learning while writing out of your era.
It’s always safe to write what we know, but it’s a real growth experience to push outside of the known and enjoy creating the perfect setting that is credible for your reader.
Find reasons to write in another era. There are reasons to write across eras without embarking on full historical fiction. Embrace the challenge. It might be easier than you think!