Tag Archives: research

Writing Historical Fiction: Research


Last October I hosted INKSPILL – a virtual writing retreat, as part of the programme we looked at Historical Fiction.

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Part 2

Today I am attempting to write a short story which is Historical Fiction.

Here is some of the advice I researched;

1. Fiction. Regardless of your time period, regardless of all the in-depth research you’ve done, you must remember that you’re writing fiction first, and historical fiction second. In other words, don’t forget that it’s action and conflict that moves the book forward.

2. Avoid history lessons …You know your period of history so well, but you must assume that your reader does not. So, it’s temping to fall into the habit of giving history lectures for a few paragraphs. Educating your reader may be necessary, but it works best when the history comes across as part of the action.

3. Using your research. Make sure the historical fact is of interest to your reader.

Don’t paint historical pictures without making them a part of the drama of your book.

4. Building a Setting. I’ve always found that an effective way to build a setting is not simply to describe the landscape, but also to make the setting part of your character’s journey.

5. Using languages or accents. I was always careful not to use words that took too much space to translate. The basic rule of thumb, I think is, if you want to use a foreign word for effect, then look for those words that are close enough to the language of your book that the meaning is obvious.

© 2014 Writer’s Digest wd

Pick your time period – it should be an area of history you either know about or have an interest in learning.

Then choose your character(s), setting and work on the plot – remembering this is a story first, you can edit, amend and add historical detail and facts at a later stage.

Immerse yourself in that time period.



Writer Fatigue



I have spent 2 days wondering whether to blog about this or not. I didn’t want to appear that I was whinging, however maybe this article will be useful to you, I would be interested in hearing how you deal with such things yourself because this fatigue leaves you feeling pretty down about your writing and worthiness in the field.

I decided this morning I would write about it and started researching. (Hoping the answers I find will make me feel better about my writing self.)

I know about burn out and fatigue – it is no different in the world of writing, especially when you are working and trying to balance, life, family and writing outside these hours. (Which, let’s be straight most of us are – dreaming of the days when we can make a living being a writer but until then trying to squeeze it into every little gap of time life throws us!)

I have taken on extra paid work recently, this has left me tired (over-tired) and feeling stressed and fraught. I am not in the middle of any major writing projects, where writers block can occur and lead to a fatigue. I have just signed up for NaPoWriMo and NaNoWriMo though and have a lot of writing future going on in my head (times when you constantly seem to be thinking about it, mulling it over and creating stories mentally) in an already overfull mind!

I have taken a week off events, although this has been a good way to conserve energy, I believe the lack of direct contact with creatives has left me feeling dulled. This is the first time since December that I have had a week off from the world of spoken word.

I have started to doubt the quality of my writing. Feel low when I am writing. Feel low when I avoid writing. A vicious circle.

When I looked into it the best advice (as with insomnia) is go and do something else. Leave the laptop alone for a whole day, 2 days. Release the pressure. The writing you produce otherwise may well not be good enough, it is a waste of time trying when you are suffering from this fatigue. Leave it alone and come back to it – even if you have submission deadlines.

I see light at the end of this tunnel. There is only 1 more week of work before our 2 week Easter break – a time for R & R and a writing catch up. But in these last few days of juggling life, work and writing – I keep dropping all the balls!

For now – it is good to know it IS normal, no writer escapes it, even established ones. That you can’t force it when it won’t come. That stepping away is not avoiding it, it is giving your mind space and time to work through it. There is another side, the days when you are full of writing energy and can’t write enough, when 24 hours is not enough time to get everything down on the screen.


Have you ever suffered writer fatigue?

What helps?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.




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An Evening of Catching Up & Writing Haikus


Tonight there was an open mic in Coventry where I would have had the opportunity to watch Stephen Morrison-Burke (Poet Laureate of Birmingham 2012-13) perform again. I decided that I was too tired to manage the drive and the late night – I am already out tomorrow performing at an open mic and Friday at the MAC watching The Quiet Compere – which features many of my poetry friends, I am also hoping to make it back to Hit The Ode in Birmingham on Thursday night to support my friend who is making her debut! It will go better than mine at least she knows the words.
So instead of going out I have caught up with my writing diary –planner planned and scheduled the next fortnight of writing.
My goal after tea is to write Haiku poetry for MAC ‘What’s the Agenda’.

The next Mouth & Music (in April) is themed ‘Dualogue’ we have been encouraged to buddy up with another artist and work out a 10 minute set. I am delighted that the person I asked accepted AND that our raw ideas seem to match. We are having a rehearsal brain storm this Monday morning and possibly the Monday after that – we have 3 weeks until we perform! pooling ideas

My Kind of R & R (Reading & Research)


I have spent an hour working through the scribbled notes in my Writing Diary! I now have an up to date Action Plan for content I aim to produce over the next few weeks.

Pun aside, it felt like R&R to me. I would love to spend the whole day in my writing skin, but have to jump offline now and get back to the reality of 2 jobs this afternoon, booo hissss!

I was heading into the city later for a new (to me) open mic, there is still a vague glimmer of hope that I will make it. However, I am tired and have been ill and am beginning to learn the importance of listening to my body – if I was still in the world of full-time employment I would have had some time off sick.

I am far more likely to have an early night and catch up with a good book. 1books

The Non-Writing, Writing Plan!


This evening, like all good artists working day jobs (earnings) around art, I need to have some office time. I have a list of admin tasks and tonight is the perfect time to do them. desk

I have managed to get home from work, just before 6pm, some chores are done, some R&R has been had and now I can make a half hour space before cooking tea! 🙂 See it can be done. YOU JUST NEED TO BE ORGANISED!

I am working my way back through the writing diary (what was that I said about being organised?!) Checking on each opportunity I have scribbled in there, checking where I need to submit to next and what material I am sending them. planner

I also want to spend some time learning a new poem by heart – one that if I manage, I will perform tomorrow night and will form part of my big set at the end of February!

I would like to find some time to read more 52 poems, 52now I finally wrote and posted my Week 5 prompt! Once a month Jo Bell is having a guest poet blogging the challenge. This wonderfully-adventurous-fairly-hard-to-write-delving-into-animals-souls, was brought to us by David Morley (who is a huge fan of birds!) we had to be an animal, write as that animal. An interesting challenge which led me to watch several hours of nature documentaries and has sparked off a list of inspired writing, yet to be created!

And if there is any time left between cooking, dinner, R&R and bedtime, I would also like to venture out around Blogland as I haven’t made it to other blogs for quite some time.

I have also come home to a print out of the FREE PDF 1795584_10152293663004073_449085159_n available from The Charles Causley Trust, treat yourself the 3 award winning poems are worth it – and although the are displayed online – see here – Charles Causley Winners Announced  it is nice to be able to take them to bed in paper form and be inspired! Lovely and colourful but we used a black and white printer!

Grab yours from HERE


Have a good night! What are you up to?


Taking Stock


inkspill notebook I used to love stock taking at work – back in the day… nowadays my stock taking feels completely different. It is still a fairly isolating and empowering experience when ‘taking stock’ of the wider picture. This evening the stock taking was an admin exercise.

I have used all writing time available (short supply today) making sure I am up to date with opportunities and writing. I haven’t had time to delve into emails or write new material. I have scheduled at least 4 hours tomorrow (as long as I can stay awake after work) in this time I will plan and rehearse Wednesday’s set, continue to learn material off by heart, write new poems, work towards other submissions, catch up with small stones and 52 challenges and later in the week (Friday) I plan to spend some time catching up with Blogs in my reader. I want to feel connected again.

At the moment life is a busy whirl of work and poetry – loving it this way, but have to take rest and relaxation over the internet or writing in the few hours I have to live in before bedtime! February isn’t as hectic – the New Year was intentionally planned to flurry – although having said that I took on an extra week of work!

Sometimes you write and others time you have to research opportunities for writing. Both take time, both need commitment.

Write Night


I have managed to write 6 poems tonight! WOW!

1 haiku and 5 free form. I finished editing my Journey poem for Week 2 of Jo Bell’s 52 Challenge, and posted it. I have since written another poem for submission and have several (already written) which I am now going to go and rehearse for tomorrow night. 1 scottish poet


Happy Writing!

A Busy Week Ahead


I am still trying to write some new material for this week. Poems on a theme are always trickier to write.
I have quite a few days of work this week, as well as a fancy dress costume to organise, a reading event at a local university, plus 2 – 3 performance poetry/ open mic nights.
I also have submissions on the action plan. I have made 1 already (1st submission since August!) not to mention CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! xmas 1 tree penguin

An Evening at the Screen


I am spending the evening;

  • researching
  • working through the past 3 days worth of jobs lists on the December Action Plan
  • Attempting to read the 2nd part of Magma – as I have to give it back tomorrow night at the next Stanza meeting – I have had it for months too long already!
  • Catching up online with social media – especially that linking me into the writing world.
  • Forgetting about the pile of dirty dishes needing attention and the fact I have to be up early for work tomorrow.


Writers skin on…. let’s see what I can get done in the next 2 hours!

Jack Canfield posted this picture this evening and I have already shared it as a status message… worth keeping hold of and not giving up! COME ON! This year deserves one final PUSH … let’s see what we can achieve!


11:30 pm UPDATE timer

I mainly did;

  • researching
  • working through the past 3 days worth of jobs lists on the December Action Plan

I nipped onto social media to send 1 message and a status update not dissimilar to the POLL post here, a question of copyright.

I have spent about half an hour longer in front of the screen trying to find inspiration for a title. I worked through half of the outstanding ACTIONS on my plan, now I see why I needed the whole day!

I have saved fact sheets, signed up to newsletters, explored 4 websites, researched two areas and worked on a current submission.

Now completed, edited, proof read and READY!


The rest will have to wait until the weekend now, as I am working tomorrow and then going to wear my poet/editors hat and go to Stanza, 2012 brighton 625I have a lot of work and events next week – including one in fancy dress (I can blame at least an hour of lost writing time on make up tutorials and costume searches!)



I MUST ACTION MY WRITING IN 24HRS! (Or 32… let’s allow sleeping time too!)


A Night of Action


My Writing Action Plan that is…
I am researching lots of websites tonight and catching up with emails. I need to send 4 out to people about current ventures.
I also hope to catch up a bit in Blogland too!

Happy Writing!