Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Regency Plots

Barbara's blog about historical "fairy tale" plots got me to thinking.
What Regency plots are readers tired of?

One of the things that strikes terror into my heart is the idea that the Regency genre might run out of plots. For example, one of the tried and true Regency plots is the lord and the governess plot. You know, the spunky governess comes to care for the lord's unruly children and winds up married to the lord. I love that plot. I have a whole book with such a plot in my head. Would today's reader be clamoring for such a plot?

Several of my plots have been "Marriage of Convenience" plots - The Mysterious Miss M, The Wagering Widow, Scandalizing the Ton. Obviously that is another plot I'm fond of. Are readers sick of that one?

When I first wrote The Mysterious Miss M editors other than the brilliant editors at Harlequin Mills and Boon, said that readers would never accept a prostitute heroine, but now it seems like there are lots of Regencies out there with prostitute or courtesan heroines. Did the readers change or were those editors simply mistaken? And was it my heroine who made that book popular or was it because I used that marriage of convenience plot?

I always wonder if Regencies are in danger of overusing of some of the popular plots - the marriage of convenience, governess and lord, unmarried duke and the ingenue in her first season, bookish spinster and debauched rakehell. What are some others?

Ironically, though, I started reading fewer Regencies when the plots widened into suspense, mystery, paranormal. Was that just me or were other readers saturated by the "traditional" plots?

As I now finish writing my next next book, "Leo's Story," the last of the books connected to The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, I'll have to seriously think about these issues.

Writing Regency romance is my passion, though. I don't ever want to stop. How do we keep the Regency genre fresh? Is it by reinventing the tried and true plots or by expanding the genre into new directions? Will the Regency ever lose its position as a popular time period in romance? Gosh I hope not!

So, tell me... What Regency plots are you tired of? Which ones do you never get tired of? Do you like it when Regency spreads itself into other genres? And, last of all, do you think the Regency genre is here to stay?

(Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress is up for Best Historical cover, as are other Harlequin Historical covers, at the Cover Cafe contest. Vote for your favorite today)


Anonymous said...

I never get tired of a twist on an old plot. Take the fairy tale plots. They seem to live on. I know my own regencies have used a variation on the old themes.

What I do think is happening is the twists and turns to make the old plots fresh are more related to our modern view of the world rather than a historical perspective.

I see stories where women are fighting the traditional role of women in the 19th century. This makes it fresh for me the reader. Another view is that the economic and social mores of the 19th century are not so different than today. Human nature hasn't changed so much. Once you see the parallels between then and now, it's easier to twist and turn the traditional plots.

Great blog!

Amy Pfaff

Diane Gaston said...

Very good points, Amy!!

It never occurred to me that the twists that work best are the ones that resonate with whatever is going on today.

beadlizard said...

I will never tire of traditional Regencies. My favorite "suspense" is that moment before their gloved hands touch on page 327... I am charmed when she feels the heat of his arm through his suit sleeve. It's that extra zing of the attraction of wonderful characters set within the context of the formality of the Regency courtship ritual. I like being transported into another era, I prefer a broken phaeton wheel to needing new tires for my Subaru, I like the illusion of the silence of the moors... I also thoroughly enjoy learning the details of our cultural history, the invention of the steam engine, the transition into the Industrial Revolution and the repercussions therefrom, workhouses, the 'Change, the then-new discoveries in medicine... A splendid era! --Sylvia

Evangeline Holland said...

Oh yay! The blog's back to being updated (easier to remember blogger over the eHQN website--you have to dig to find the blog)!

IMO, I think the Regency setting has grown tired because it's largely moved away from its Heyer/trad roots. There was probably a backlash against Prinny cameos or Almack's scenes--and the books grew sexier--but I miss the wit and zaniness seen in Regency historicals of the 90s. I'd also like to see authors push beyond Regency character tropes, and make the Regency its own, self-contained period again (I can't tell you how annoying it is for non-Regency Historical authors to use those character tropes in other settings). And more Peninsular War and smuggling stories! I miss those.

Diane Gaston said...

beadlizard, there is something so sexy about a glove, isn't there?

Evangeline, I post the same blog on blogger as I do on eHarlequin. I'll encourage the other authors to do the same.
I like to push beyond Regency character trops and I loved writing my Three Soldiers series. Valiant Soldier, Beautiful Enemy is coming out Aug 23. You should be able to get it through eHarlequin Aug 1.

carrie said...

I will never tire of the governess and lord stories. A great variation on that is when the governess isn't really a governess at all, but someone running away and assuming the role of a governess as a disguise. There's many stories/motives for a woman to run and disguise herself, so I think there's lots of possibilities still to work with that type of plot. But as I said, those are my very favorite and I would never stop reading that sort of plot!

Another great variation on the governess and lord stories is when the children aren't his! There's lots of possibilities with that, I think, and how the children facilitate the romance between governess and lord also.