The purpose of history is to narrate events as accurately as one can.
You have to learn almost everything about a period and the social customs just to get your characters out of their beds, or off of their skins, and feed them breakfast. Sweat the Small Stuff. The authenticity of historical fiction depends on your knowledge and use of historical detail.
It is not enough to say a character walked down the street. The reader has to be able to see the street, see the conveyances; he has to smell the smoke from the factories or the sewage in the gutter.
This is a new world: These should be accurate and not recycled from old movies. Here are two suggestions apart from the usual methods of research. Find experts on the topics you need to learn about. Latch on to the friendly ones. She spent two hours on the phone with me describing vividly the Mormon settlement that my characters needed to visit.
Dozens of experts on a wide range of topics have generously helped me in similar ways. If your story takes place after catalogs were in use, get hold of reprints of old catalogs.
I have an Montgomery Ward Catalog that has descriptions of, and prices for, almost every personal item used by people of that time: It represents the lifestyle of that decade. In order to write authentic historical fiction you must know a period of time well enough to disappear daily through a wormhole to the past and arrive at the location of your story.
There you must understand the customs and use the manners perfectly enough to be accepted by people walking the streets if there are streets and to dress yourself, and make a living.
This said, the major trick of writing good historical fiction is not in compiling research or knowing the details, but in knowing the details to leave out. Try to avoid overwriting. Keep perspective on what will interest the reader. Historical fiction writers tend to be overly conscientious and excited by minutia: Think of your novel as a boat that is about to sink from having too much weight on board: Toss them over with impunity!
If a rare, surprising statistic, or a moving anecdote, or an obscure reference you saw to an interesting thing that happened in the county adjacent to the one where your story takes place, does not advance your plot or provide your reader with important information about your characters, then it is irrelevant to your story and must go overboard.
Keep in mind that the care, and time, it took to assemble all that you have just thrown out has not been wasted. It was necessary to gather these facts and assess their worth in order to know which ones to save.
Keep Your Conscience Clean. If your characters are based on real people and you are using the names, be reasonably responsible to the originals. You are probably going to have to fill in a lot of gaps in the historical record: Am I getting this right? Am I getting it close to right? Am I doing this person a disservice?
Resist Judging Your Characters. We live in the 21st century with certain shared values: But your characters are people of their own times; allow them to be bigoted or politically backwards.
An historical novel is a project that could require months or even years of research, so you need to write about a period that can hold your interest for that long. Most writers of historical fiction choose their historical period based on a long-time interest in the period and that is a good way to start. ACTIVITY: Writing Historical Fiction Summary: Using their research and a photo of an artifact found at Ashland as a springboard, students will write fictional accounts of life on the estate before the Civil War. See the “Every Object Has a Story” PowerPoint presentation for images of. This guide shares tips on how to write a historical novel with insights from published authors. Learn to write historical fiction from bestselling authors.
You have to be able to see the story from their perspective, even if it offends you. If you judge your characters, you will date your book.
Years from now when your own moral sensibilities are antiquated, your book will be too. Watch Out for First Person. I put down three books recently because I was annoyed with the first person viewpoint, which came across as self-absorbed.
People tend not to like people who notice themselves too much or describe themselves or seem overly aware of how others perceive them.This guide shares tips on how to write a historical novel with insights from published authors.
Learn to write historical fiction from bestselling authors. 8 Rules of Writing Historical Fiction Research - After researching and writing my novel Orphan was published by William Morrow in and is the August Target Club Pick and an Indie Next Great R Find this Pin and more on Writing is fun by Katie Speen.
Kelly Kerney's outstanding novel Hard Red Spring spans the entire 20th century in Guatemala's history through four vivid voices. Kerney, who spent a decade writing the book, talks about the difficult task of fictionalizing the past. Writing Historical Fiction - video One of agent Kevan Lyon's favorite areas to work in is historical fiction.
In this interview she shares tips for creating well-written historical fiction, with examples drawn from her own work. The language has to match the times. I’m not talking about writing in the right dialect or anything which many historical fiction writers do, but don’t use words that didn’t exist in that time period.
Mar 03, · The historical novel THE PILLOW BOOK OF THE FLOWER SAMURAI tells the story of a Japanese peasant girl who becomes a samurai, and her skills and honor inspire a new code of ethics for all samurai.
Read more about my book and an excerpt.