Agency Lessons: Does your historical need to be?

I'm back. Marketing efforts for #RiteOfRejection are still going strong with the Blog Tour and more. I'll be keeping you updated on those. For now, I'm itching to get back to my regular blog schedule.

For new readers, Agency Lessons is a weekly post where I share a bit of insider literary agent information for writers looking to make their book dreams come true. This week, let's talk about historicals.
 
If you are up on the latest writing trends, no doubt you've noticed that historicals are quite popular at the moment. And not just the 1800s. Apparently the late 20th century is now considered a historical time period. So, you know, my childhood. I'm not feeling old, really, go ahead and discuss the 80s as if they were the dark ages. It's fine.

All kidding aside, I think books set in the past can be wonderful. But like most trends, a lot of writers want to hop on the train without really understanding where it's going. References to the Care Bears, molded plastic lunch boxes and baggy sweatshirts cover the pages, but the essence of that time period is missing.

Before you launch into a novel lauding all things flannel, grunge and heavy black eyeliner, ask yourself why. Does your book need to be set in the 1980s or 1990s? Why? What about that time period impacts the story line? How does the culture of those days change how your character responds to the conflicts and tensions in their life? What moments in time play a role in your plot? These decisions should be made with a reason.

There is nothing wrong with writing a book that takes the reader back in time. I'm all about reliving the glory days of Adidas shoes and Umbro shorts. But your story needs more than just the occasional reference. It needs to capture the reality of living during that time period, which means it should be ingrained in every part of your story.