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I enjoy incorporating hold-your-breath anticipation into my historical stories. Victims are dumped on doorsteps. The innocent fear for their lives. Outlaws prey on the unsuspecting. Range wars ensue. Railroad tycoons strive to gobble more land.
All stories need strong heroes and heroines who must choose between the danger of a courageous stand or allowing evil to triumph.
Sounds like a Western, pardner!
Yes and no. Westerns are limited to the western U.S. from after the Civil War to the turn of the 20th Century. Conflicts emerge between Native Americans and settlers, ruthless outlaws and law abiding citizens, and rich tycoons and hardworking landowners. Most Westerns use an unlikely hero to save the day, such as a handsome, slow-talking cowboy who may tell the girl goodbye and kiss his horse.
Westerns lasso a snippet of the past to entertain us. They can be suspenseful, but not all historical suspense novels are westerns.
Historical suspense bubbles over with action. It tugs on the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental strengths of your characters. Add enough realistic detail to make your story real. Be diligent and sprinkle in plenty of creativity to keep your reader glued to the page.
Your reputation will suffer with readers, however, if you get creative with historical facts. Use dynamic resources like libraries and state historical societies. Find local or state-published books about your setting and its people to mine rich tidbits of information.
It’s essential to create strong characters and plot twists. The lure of historical suspense is the ability to journey back to a slower pace when men and women lived by their wits and the toil of their hands.
Combine the romance of your favorite era with a suspenseful story, and keep your readers craving adventure.
DiAnn Mills combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. She has 50 books in print and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Her Sworn to Protect won a 2011 Christy Award in the Contemporary Romance Category. Breach of Trust won the same award in 2010. Her latest, The Chase, releases next month. DiAnn is the Craftsman mentor for the Christian Writers Guild. Visit her online.