Historical Fiction Writing Workshop

@Sanguine gives tips on writing historical fiction



Historical Fiction is one of those genres that will always be around, even though some people might not be overly confident on writing it. These are some tips on writing such stories.


1) Make Sure You Are Aware of What You Are Writing Of

Do some research – what did they wear? How was their manner of speaking? What are the rules of propriety? Absolutely anything, research it, even if you think you are overly confident with the subject. You don’t want to go off writing this story without thinking of this stuff, and have sceptical readers questioning everything. You need to be comfortable with the era in which you are writing, but don’t absolutely freak out about everything. 


2) Do You Know of the Grammar Used?

Back then, grammar was different. Half of the time, a lowercase letter after an exclamation mark was grammatically correct, but not all of the time. Dashes were used much like brackets, and it was acceptable to have a question/exclamation mark at the end of it, have a dash, and continue the sentence before the dash. That’s not done so often these days, so be aware if this sort of thing. Words also had different meanings back then. Common ones are known, such as “gay” and “nincompoop”, but others aren’t. You don’t have to check up on every word, but it is wise to do so. Just don’t go out of your way to find strange words; not all readers know what the word “wont” means. Also, make sure you know of words that aren’t used in normal speech today, such as odd contractions like “’twas”


3) Show Don't Tell 

Let your characters interact with some historical facts that you have found out. Maybe some gossip about a certain someone walking several miles and having a muddy dress (I’m looking at you, Elizabeth Bennet!), or someone appearing at church late, and having some townspeople laughing at them. Don’t throw around facts for the poor readers to try and memorise. Let them read something and think “A muddy dress warrants that? Okay, a) What the heck? and b) I would like to see them manage to walk that far after it has rained and not get any mud on their dresses.”


4) The Internet Can Either Be Your Best Friend, or Your Worst Enemy for Historical Research

The internet isn’t the wisest place to go to. Certainly, never go to Wikipedia! It’s okay for little things, but trust books more. Always check your information with at least two sources. Go to the reference section of your local library, or even the fiction section, and see what tips you can pick up from the books there. 


5) Relax When Writing Your Story!

Keep calm! This is supposed to be fun, even if it is hard work. Don’t totally stress out about everything, but try and keep it historically accurate. Be careful about editing, but don’t fret. Your readers will, inevitably, find mistakes, but that’s normal. You can fix them when they tell you about them. One little problem isn’t the end of the world, so why should it be the end of your sanity? Take a break from time to time, and keep a clear head. It’s a little impossible to be totally historically accurate!


Leave your tips for writing historical fiction below.

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