children's writer

Novel Set During The 90s

Sep 20, 2011
It seems like I've written myself into somewhat of a hole. When I began writing Summer Spell I decided to set it during the early 90s because I wanted the town which my characters live in to be sort of old fashioned. And I felt like if the story took place today it just wouldn't be as believable.

Now, although I still love the story, I'm hearing that the 90s is a horrible time period to set your novel because it might just end up feeling dated.

Before anybody asks, no I was not a teen during the 90s. But it was my childhood. From what I hear, setting your story doing the 90s or the 80s to avoid technology is a bad Idea, and like the lack of cell phones and computers might be a major issue. 

The 90s is also considered a historical time period, but since my novel isn't tied to an event that actually happened, would it still be considered historical?

To you writing experts out there, what would you do? Should I scrap it or keep on chugging

I know there are a number of books out today that are set during the 80s and 90s, The Perks of Being a Wallflower being one of them, and Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal being another.
9 comments on "Novel Set During The 90s"
  1. Let me see, the 20's and 30's had prohibition, the Great Depression and war. The 80's and 90's had funky, colorful, geometic-centric fashion, the explosion of rap and hip hop and the era of the boy band. Hmmm...I'm not sure I see why it should be an issue since you can definitely differentiate the 90's from today since there were no bluetooth devices. Cell phones were carried in a briefcase and Micheal Jackson was a staple singer for most teens who owned a walkman.

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Angela. I see what you're saying. I guess I'm just a little antsy, especially since I'm getting ready to query pretty soon.

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  3. I love the 90s, and I would love to read a book set in the times.

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  4. That makes me feel a lot better, Alexis. :)

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  5. Well, good! Not everyone has the opinion that it's too close, I think. Look at movies like Clueless. Set in the 90s and absolutely amazing execution! As long as you get the sayings and mannerisms right, it'll be a great novel setting!

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  6. I'm definitely going to watch clueless, again.

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  7. I think the biggest problem with the 90's is that it's recent enough that it might feel more dated than historical. I was a kid in the 90's and I still love watching movies from that period, but I think for a book to work in that period, there needs to be a good reason. In the end though, it's all about execution and a good book is a good book no matter what the setting.

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  8. Thanks for the comment, Linda. That is exactly what I've been hearing. There has to be a good reason to have your novel set in that time period. I'll just have to wait and see once it's been beta read.

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  9. I have a family saga (meant to eventually span 12 volumes) that starts in 1941 and is currently up to 1998, and I've been loving writing the story of my original main character's and her friends' grandkids since I'm finally writing about peers, people who were teens in the same era I was. I'd term a book set in the Nineties as late contemporary historical fiction, though I don't know if I'd open a whole new book in that era. It does seem pretty recent to be considered a meaningful setting, unless some historic event is included as part of the story. I think it works better if you're already writing a series or family saga and it extends into that era as the story progresses across the decades.

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