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