Tag Archives: noblewomen

On Writing: Running from Nobles


Alright, I have to speak up in favor of princesses and noble ladies.  Too often I’ve read books where they want to escape their lives because they’re just so bored of needlepoint and…needlepoint.  And needlepoint.  Because apparently no one can think of anything else a noble lady might be engaged in.

Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with the basic story of a noble lady (or lord) who wants to escape her or his life.  The grass is always greener on the other side, and all that jazz.  But this paint-by-numbers approach to it has to stop.

  • Tell me what they are, not what they aren’t.  Saying that a character ‘isn’t like other nobles’ or ‘doesn’t like such and such’ is next to useless.  It tells me nothing about them as a character; it only tells me what they’re not.  If all I know is that Princess Muffin doesn’t like to sew…I really don’t care.  Tell me what she does like.  Don’t tell me she hates all things noble and ladylike, tell me she has a passion for something outside her class.  Tell me what drives and motivates her, not all the things that have failed to do so.  If all I know about your character is their ‘nots,’ they might as well be a black hole of character development.  A character who goes to great lengths to leave a way of life based on a lack of motivation comes off as whiny, directionless, and quite immature.

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Because we’ve been on a nobles kick lately, here’s a good starting point for noblewomen. My historical fiction is a little shoddy but I really, really, really recommend anything by Sharon Kay Penman as a starting primer if you want to write noblewomen, especially When Christ and His Saints Slept and Here Be Dragons for being incredibly well researched and incredibly accurate.