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18 February 2007 @ 11:27 am
Thoughts on writing pirate romance (not rules yet, more like guidelines)  
Just a few thoughts, mostly inspired by erastes posting the writing rules for various styles.

1) All pirate captains are noblemen--or noblemen's bastard sons--in disguise

2) The heroine, if she encounters him first as a pirate, will be terrified of him and not believe his nobility until taken to the estate he inherits around page 250-300
2b) If the heroine encounters him first as a nobleman, she will find him insufferable and fall in love only at sea. Then she will not believe the piracy until confronted with his flag or a sea battle.

3) All heroines must be orphans, or at least motherless.

4) All pirate novels will be set in and around the Caribbean between 1600 and 1776. They will not be set in Louisiana, the Carolinas, Scotland, Ireland, China, the Red Sea or the Barbary Coast. Nor will they be set after 1776, and certainly not into the 1900s. (The Wind and the Lion, with Sean Connery being all Arabic-Scottish, not withstanding)

5) All pirates sail galleons or brigantines. No one ever sails a bark, a sloop or a schooner. No one has even heard of a xebec. And under no circumstances will your pirates use canoes or pirouges.

6) All treasure will be in pieces of eight or doubloons. Even if the ship carrying it is Dutch or French or English. They will never capture loius d'ors, silver pennies or reales or escudoes.

7) Spaniards are always bad. French are usually bad. English can be bad or good. Americans are always good. And the Dutch never figure into it.

8) Despite the fact that only the trade in molasses and rum was more prevalent, the pirates will never capture a slave ship. Nor will any sympathetic characters own slaves. If, by chance, they do take a slaver, they immediately free the slaves instead of keeping them or selling them.

9) Despite the Code of the Brethern, women end up on shipboard with astonishing regularity.

10) Nobody ever drinks anything but rum, even if they hate it. The heroine will invariably hate her first taste of it.

11) Food is usually decent. Only if the plot calls for the ship to be becalmed (so that the Captain and his lady can fall in love) will there ever be weevils in the flour, maggots in the ship's biscuit and slime in the water casks.

12) Ships never leak. All cabins are dry and snug and well furnished.

13) All pirates are superstitious. But there is always one who is worse than the others and prophesies doom and gloom at every cloud.

14) If someone is flogged, he will be fine after being washed with sea water, having rum poured on his wounds and more inside him. In fact, rum is the sovereign remedy for everything short of an amputation, and it makes even that bearable.

15) No one is ever keelhauled, and the plank is run out only for plot advancement.

16) All sea battles are fought with cannons. All cannons are the same and all gunners are either excellent shots or really execreble. If the latter, the one time he's not supposed to fire is when he will hit his mark.

17) All pirates use cutlasses. No one ever uses a brace of pistols, a regular sword, a club or a belaying pin. If, by some error, you do write use of a pistol, it must either misfire, or mysteriously reload itself immediately.

18) Pirate, privateer, buccanneer etc, must all be used interchangeably.

19) Under no circumstances will your pirates run into a REAL pirate, like edward Teach or Calico Jack Rackham. Unless, of course, those are your pirates.
Current Mood: relaxedpiratical
Erasteserastes on February 18th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
GUFFAWS! I love them.

Except I disagree.

If the author is English, the good guys are English. The Navy are still the good guys, just misguided and doing their duty.

Someone will call someone a Proud Bewty at somepoint in the book, and the heroine will slap the hero's face at least three times, but on the third one he will catch her hand.
Gehayigehayi on February 18th, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC)
If the heroine has to disguise herself as a male on a pirate ship, all the males in the book (pirates, civilians and Navy personnel) will find her ultra-masculine and completely believable. This will prove true despite sizable breasts (which may or may not be pressed down by a band of cloth), delicate, girlish features, the lack of a penis outline in her trousers and her inability to take a whiz in the sea with the other sailors.

Swords, whatever their size, are invariably light and easy to handle. Learning to fight with one takes no time, skill, training or practice whatsoever.

A pirate, whether male or female, may have a scar. However, the scar must not be in any way disfiguring; rather, it must enhance his rugged good looks or her transcendent beauty.

Anyone who notices the pirate's scar and reacts unfavorably to it will be revealed to be a shallow and probably evil person who well deserves to get his or her comeuppance by the end of the book.

A woman pirate will invariably be beautiful and have long cascading tresses flowing in the wind. No matter what direction the wind is blowing from, it will never blow her hair in her face, nor will her hair ever become matted or dirty. Even if there is no clean water to drink, the female pirate will have bouncy and behavin' hair.
dragovianknight on February 18th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
Swords really aren't that heavy. Easy-to-handle, not so much.
Gehayigehayi on February 19th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC)
Well, the weight depends on the sword and how big it is. Also, you have to think about how long the person would be swinging it in battle. Think about weight-lifting for hours without stopping.
dragovianknight on February 19th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
Even the larger swords don't weigh in at much more than a light handweight, 4 or 5 pounds; my cavalry saber is roughly 3 pounds (but the balance is dreadful for anything but a downward stroke, because that's what it was designed for).
(Anonymous) on February 18th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
There are two kinds of first mates.

One, who is noble (in character) who was probably rescued by the captain from either a slave ship, or freed from slavers, or is a mixed race who ends up nobly sacrificing himself for the captain and his lady love and is forgotten before the epilogue.

Two, a vicious cut throat out to steal the ship, the girl, or the treasure for himself and is suitably dispatched possibly during a duel with cutlasses or after miraculously producing his own ship complete with crew and having a battle with hero's mysteriously crippled but still fully able to fire at will ship.
hlglne: hlgneifhlglne on February 19th, 2007 03:23 am (UTC)
We must not forget that the pirates must be very fond of making little pirates with the heroine. According to the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this is our duty as a species to combat global warming.
Angelvalarltd on February 19th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
But, should the pirate get the heroine pregnant before he is married to her, she will invariably miscarry.

Also, if the Captain appears to be having an unnatural relationship with one of the crew, usually a young man of extraordinary beauty, there is nothing to it. He is simply protecting the man, who is always a long-lost nobleman's son, from the rest of the crew. Cabin boys are never to be brutalized.