Historical Fiction is a favorite to founder Fatma Al Bannai in both reading and writing; which she shares with many people as Historical genre has become very popular these days, due to the fact that pretty much anything prior to the 19th century can be considered Historical Fiction so that’s a lot of material to choose from for writer to focus on including settings, characters, events that happened in history. The Untitled Chapters team wanted to write a new Tips of the Pen to shed some light on how one goes about writing a historical novel.
What is Historical Fiction?
Historical fiction is a category for novels and stories that take place in past times (usually more than fifty years before when the author wrote them).
There are three different ways one can write a historical fiction novel; writers can choose one the three scenarios below
- Write a story about a real personwho lived in a period of time (Examples: Henry the 8th, Cleopatra) Though writers must keep in mind that they cannot simply make up things about the person or just say that they did certain things when the history books clearly say that that person didn’t
- Example: a writer CANNOT write about Henry the 8th beheading his first wife because that is historically incorrect; he divorces his first wife and beheaded his second wife.
- Create a story that takes place at a certain event (Example: The World Wars; your character can be a soldier who fought in it, or a nurse who tended to the wounded, or a child separated from their parents because of the war and is now a journey to find them)
- Create a character completely out of your head that had lived in that particular period of time. Doesn’t matter if they existed or not in real life.
Whatever scenario a writer chooses to write; all three must be written carefully so that the facts or activities that are going on in the story is relatable to the time period that the writer is writing one. Example: a writer cannot write his main heroine wearing pants during the 16th century; that was completely not okay during that time period.
How to write historical fiction?
There are several reasons why writers write Historical fiction; all of them may write in different times or with different characters but they all have some of these in common that drove them into writing in his genre:
- f you’re writing Historical fiction, they you must love reading novels set in the past.
- You are very interested in a certain time period of a historical event that occurred. Example: You find Victorian society very interesting or you thought the murder of Martin Luther King was something very fascinating and can build a whole story about that
- Your novel idea works better in the past rather in the present. Example: your main character is a pirate.
Keep in mind that Historical fiction is a lot of work and takes time! You shouldn’t write historical fiction if:
- You hate research.
- You are in a hurry to finish.
Research is a key element of writing a historical novel. Research is important when writing in any genre but it is particular crucial for Historical fiction. A writer might need to spend hours, even weeks or months to research everything about the time period that they want to write it, including: what they ate, how they dressed, what they did, the rules of society during that time, what was acceptable and what was not acceptable, political events and elements, hierarchy or power and even how they talked! People in different time periods have different attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge so bear that in mind before going into something that you hate doing. People in different classes in the same time period talked differently so even how they talked is something that should be researched thoroughly.
Trust us readers will be able to know straight away if something was wrong and this will make the writer lose credibility.
It’s good to keep in mind that if you’re writing a Historical Fiction then it is novel, a story and not a book of facts of what happened during that time so don’t make the mistake of cramming too much historical data and information in your book; use these details to enhance your story and characters
– Untitled Chapters Team