698 members, 165 topics. April 18, 2019, 3:34 pm
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Historical fiction is a category for novels and stories that take place in past times (usually more than fifty years before when the author wrote them).
The characters and events in these stories might be completely imaginary. But the world of these stories is based, as closely as possible, on the reality of a particular historical time and place.
1.Have fun with the research, but do your homework. Go to a library and borrow some good reference books. Become comfortable with the time period you want to go for. Try to understand both the larger scope of the period, while examining aspects of daily life of the period. This will bring out a great backdrop for your historical novel.
2. Let the characters engage with the historical details. This goes along with that “show don’t tell” writers are told all the time. Rather than just slapping us in the face with a bunch of facts, let your characters interact with these details with all these senses. Let them smell the goat dump or forest. Let us know what a village footpath feels against your character's bare feet. All these should tally with the period you're gunning for.
3. Allow your characters to question and explore their place in society. This will help reveal the larger political, social, cultural context of the time. What were the expectations for women? For sailors? For criminals? How did people from different parts of society interact with one another?
4. Use the internet wisely, to inspire and inform. The internet can be a researcher’s best friend, especially for arm-chair time travelers. Need to know how long it would take to walk from one part of the country to another? Use the walking feature on mapquest.
5. The internet can be bad, bad, bad for historical research. Unfortunately, the internet is also full of flawed information, lies, plagiarized material and half truths. Check all “facts” against at least two sources when possible. If a story or definition is repeated in more than one source, there’s a good chance someone simply copied the information without verifying the accuracy. This is how a lot of bad information gets passed along and taken as “true.”
6. Don’t fret the details; let the story be told. Gun for accuracy, but when necessary, make your best informed guess and move on. And if you have to fudge something, well, that’s what the ‘historical note’ at the end of your novel is for!
7. Love the process, because readers will still find errors. And they’ll let you know about them. It doesn’t matter if those errors happened in editing process. You can keep-checking facts, hire copy editors and proofreaders, study every word for inconsistencies and mistakes, and I guarantee something will still slip by.
Most important thing of all, the language!
Thanks for reading! Hope this post helped?
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