Writing Saturday; 10 Things to Remember when Writing… Historical Fiction

8:50 AM

1.      Do your research.  The more you study the time period, the better your book will be

2.      Incorporate actual people into your story.  What I mean by this is that one of the best ways to make something authentic is for the main character to meet a historical person, even if it is briefly.

3.      If you are writing historical fiction that has less to do with the history that is going on and more to do with the time period, spend some learning about the inventions that they did and didn’t have.  Simple things like can openers, plastics, or even tooth picks can be out of place in certain points in time.

4.      When describing clothing, movies are not always the best resource.  If you look closely, you will often find that they will make the period clothes and put a modern spin on them.  Look up pictures or paintings from the time if you really want to know what the clothes looked like.

5.      Make sure that attitudes are correct for the time period.  In the Victorian times, actors and actresses were looked down on by proper people.  In some time periods, arranged marriages were the norm and girls were fine with that.  While in still other times, people believed that the world was flat and that saying different was heresy.  Catching the attitudes of the time is very important.

6.      Peoples’ thoughts on war and warfare has greatly changed through the ages.  In some times wars were deemed a necessary evil, in other times it was considered important and honorable to go to war.  If you plan to write about a battle, make sure that you find out the reasons behind it.

7.      Before writing about a doctor coming to cure someone, make sure you know what doctors had and how they treated people way back when.  In the middle ages, illnesses were believed to be caused by bad blood so they would cut them and let the blood drain out, having them come in and give some sort of other treatment would be unlikely.

8.      How educated is your main character?  Is she is a girl in the prairie in the 1800’s her mom probably teaches her what she can.  If it is a rich boy in the 1900’s he probably goes to school.  If it is an average person in ancient Egypt, they have probably had no education.

9.      Accents and words from cultures you write about should be included, but don’t overdo it.

10.   Have a question about something?  Often local college professors are willing to help you.

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