Let’s Make History!
Historical fiction is a genre that requires a lot of research. Good historical fiction that is. If you ever find yourself wanting to try your hand at this genre, be prepared for a lot of reading. Basically, when you write historical fiction, the setting in which the story happens is based on a real event, on a real moment in time. But the characters you create are the fictitious elements. So if you want to write a historical novel, here’s what you need to consider.
In this case you have to research the era in which your story takes place. If you pick some event from 50 years ago, you need to do research on what the area was like geographically. Bear in mind that some of the buildings around now might not have existed then. Think about the general state of the surroundings? Was the area poverty stricken? Was it war torn? What did its architecture look like? All these questions need to be answered when you do the research.
If you create a story with an actual event in the background, you need to make sure that the event is well researched and rendered as historically accurate as possible. That means you need to consider whether your story takes place over one year or over several years. Then you need to research that timeframe. If the event was already underway, you need to research how it affected the place and the people. If the event is still building up, then you need to research possible catalysts. If you story takes place after the event, you need to search the aftermath. What was the prevalent attitude of the people? Answers to this can also help you determine how your characters should behave.
You might not need to do research how people spoke during your chosen time period, but if you go back far enough in history you will have to. If, for instance, your story takes place in medieval England, you will have to capture the way the people spoke in that time.
Deviation is not forbidden
Fiction is the operative word here. Ultimately, you’re choosing an historical event that suits you story. Just ensure that you make this clear up front.
Keep this in mind
The level to which you do the research can determine how successful your novel is. Remember that it’s fiction you’re writing, so you don’t have to be completely historically accurate. However, getting the details of history right can help your book feel more realistic.
Written by David Hendricks
Image credit: Microsoft Images