How to write a historical fiction book

If you are going to write a present-day scene in which your character makes this trip, you will simply need to put him into a vehicle -- a pickup, or a Volvo -- and head him south for forty minutes on the flat terrain of interstate 35, passing strip malls and fields and the town of Buda.

When I embarked on this novel a decade ago—a project that explores the surreal and tragic history of American intervention in Guatemala—my goal was to track this continuum and drag this history from the past.

Although Wuthering Heights takes place in the past, it was also written in the past, and as far as Emily Bronte was concerned, it was a contemporary novel.

This said, the major trick of writing good historical fiction is not in compiling research or knowing the details, but in knowing the details to leave out.

The Impossible Task of Writing Historical Fiction

Resist Judging Your Characters. I am fortunate enough to be published in a different genre under another pen name, and I have done the math. I saw echoes of the Spanish conquest in the Cold War, I saw the plantation economy recreated in globalization.

How to Write Historical Fiction: 7 Tips on Accuracy and Authenticity

Note that I said look for an agent—not get an agent. This will help reveal the larger political, social, cultural context of the time. Historians go to school, get to write fancy letters after their names, and are relied upon to tell the world what actually happened or could have happened, usually but not always!

The internet can be bad, bad, bad for historical research. An agent might do the same to you. I realized that I had become obsessed with this question for a line of dialogue that could easily, so easily, be made more generic.

So, just as a rule of thumb, I might say that more than two years of research and writing is too much. Anyone relating a story about himself -- what he said, what he was wearing, what inflection he had in his voice or what gesture he made as he spoke some pronouncement -- we dismiss as annoying and self-important.

I put down three books recently because I was annoyed with the first person viewpoint, which came across as self-absorbed. Historical novels usually take several years to write, as they require research at every turn. No matter how flawed your manuscript, your mom will make herself see brilliance in its dark twisty depths.

This is valuable stuff, and I always get caught up in these tales myself. A good metaphor would be having to carve a lovely ice sculpture of a figure, but then having to take all the chiseled away chunks at your feet and press them into an equally lovely horse beneath the figure that shows no seams.

Can you guess what they were taking pictures of?

Become a Fiction Writer

It is easy to be overly dutiful and bore your readers with too much background information delivered too soon. Starting with the latter, there is plenty we simply do not know.

To give you life, your mom pushed a red, squalling, ball of infant goo out into the waiting world like a watermelon through a straw.

Journals kept in the past were, of course, written by literate people with the leisure for self-contemplation. Have fun with the research, but do your homework. Am I doing this person a disservice? For example, if you write a historical novel that takes place in Paris during the s, you can: For example, if your story is about sea explorers in search of new continents, then you will probably decide to set that in the past.

The only research needed to write this scene will be to drive the route yourself. In reality, our relationship with history—especially for Americans—is much more dynamic.

You are probably going to have to fill in a lot of gaps in the historical record: Latch on to the friendly ones. Because, on top of it all, the ice is melting… But, lucky for you, the work is all done and I can look back on it with a slightly cheerful tone and a semi-articulateness that certainly did not exist during the process.

Rather than just dumping a bunch of facts on the poor reader, let your characters interact with these details with all these senses.

Sweat the Small Stuff.This page offers tips on how to write historical fiction. It is just one of many pages on the CWN website about the elements of fiction and creative writing techniques. At the bottom, you'll find links to related pages, as well as the chance to take free creative. Kerney, who spent a decade writing the book, talks about the difficult task of fictionalizing the past.

First, I need to confess that I do not like what we call historical fiction. That may change, but at present, the readership for historical fiction is primarily print which makes it harder for a debut historical fiction author to succeed in the realm of self-publishing.

Consequently, you want your books in a bookstore. Books shelved as historical-fiction: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Help.

50 Essential Historical Fiction Books. by Lily King. Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of historical fiction, you've heard the names Hilary Mantel, Eleanor Catton, Anthony Doerr and Kristin Hannah repeatedly over recent years. No longer dismissed as bodice-rippers rife with anachronisms or dreary textbooks dressed up in barely discernible.

The 'How to ' of Historical Book Reviews Writing a book review may seem very difficult, but in fact there are some simple rules you can follow to make the process much easier. Before you read, find out about the author’s prior work.

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How to write a historical fiction book
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