Historical fiction can be a challenging genre to master. It isn’t enough to maintain accuracy. You must also be able to entertain, and few authors know how to bring these two elements together. For the most part, experience plays an important role in one’s ability to produce entertaining historical fiction. All in all, it is definitely possible to master the art of writing historical fiction through research.
TIPS FOR WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION
Is it possible to achieve total historical accuracy while telling a great story? How can one balance authenticity and accuracy with captivating storytelling?
Tackling historical fiction is more than merely gaining an understanding of the basics of writing. One must take historical elements and apply a sense of action, drama and adventure to them. You have to be able to take facts (often well known by your readers) that elicit very little interest and give them an attractive new spin. Before you embark upon your journey to the past, ChatEbooks lists down some tips worth considering.
Historical fiction is just that: fiction. Rather than simply laying out historical facts as they happened, try to remember that you are actually writing a story. This means inserting drama, action and conflict into your book. It isn’t enough to get the historical details of your story right. Rather, you need to use these details to enrich your fictional story. Strive for accuracy but do not throw the rules of writing fiction out the window just because you are dealing with historical matters.
Do Not Write Lectures
The purpose of historical fictional novels is to entertain. You are not trying to teach your readers history, and this is a fact that many historical fiction novelist tend to forget. When focusing on the fact that most of your readers are probably not well versed in the historical matters you are tackling, it is easy to fall into a pattern where you are giving history lessons rather than telling a story. You must try to remember, however, that you are not writing a factual book. Your book isn’t a classroom within which you get to lecture your readers on history. Take the historical matters in question and transform them into an actual story. Personalize the historical details. Do not stop the action and conflict of the story to give lengthy lessons about a situation in history that your readers probably don’t even care about.
Do Your Research
You need to know your history. Before embarking on your historical fiction writing project, take the time to compile as much information about your historical setting as possible. The details matter, from the minutiae of culture to food and even fashion oddities – where your characters lived, what they ate, what they wore, their everyday language, the mode of transportation, the jobs available and the list goes on.
You cannot hope to transport your readers into the past without first understanding every facet that made your chosen setting so unique. Of course, as important as historical details might be, try not to bury your readers in paragraphs of factual information. Make the most crucial elements of your historical setting part of the drama as opposed to setting them aside as random pieces of information. Familiarize yourself with that era and create historical detail and authenticity, then add a healthy dose of imagination to make your book standout.
Engage Your Characters
When it comes to historical fiction, it is important to show rather than tell. Instead of bombarding you readers with irrelevant facts, endeavor to make your characters part of history. Let them engage in those most crucial aspects of your historical setting. Make them the eyes through which your audience can experience history.
Don’t Obsess with the Details
Detail matters when it comes to historical fiction. However, the best historical novels bring far more to the table than extensive detail. While you should try to remain accurate, do not sweat over every single detail. A few informed guesses are acceptable. Remember, you are here to tell a story, not to give a history lesson. You do not need to know the color of Hitler’s socks to tell a story about his reign. Most of your readers only care about being entertained. Therefore, do not lose yourself in research for the sake of investigating every single historical detail about your chosen setting.
If you want to succeed as a historical fiction writer, you need to actually write. It is easy to get lost in research by trying to dig up every detail possible about every character in your chosen period that you never get anything accomplished. Do not treat your book like a dissertation project. Focus on simply telling a story, and have fun doing it.