Straighten up your ruff and fix your doublet, we’re delving back into the archives for this week’s “3 Things…” with historical fiction.
1) How fiction can educate
We’re taught history as a series of highlights, large events like wars or big social changes. Or we learn about a series of prominent figures such as Kings, Presidents, and so on. Large swathes of people are missing, often because of who is responsible for deciding what’s taught. Historical fiction often tells the stories of people who missed out in the grand scheme of things. Of course, it’s still fiction, but it can prompt the reader to find out more. So consider how your writing can educate as well as entertain.
2) How to make characters relatable
Characters are a reader’s way into a story. And if that story occurs in a time and place that the reader has never experienced, it’s even more important for the characters to help guide the reader through. We often like to imagine that people from way back when are dynamically different from us. But a quick glance at the graffiti in Pompei or the letters of WWI soldiers will show how similar people are no matter when they lived. A skilled writer can create historical characters that both fit their time period and are still relatable. And making relatable characters is top of the list for all writers.
3) How you can find inspiration in real-life
The truth is stranger than fiction – it can also inspire it. If you’re looking for a story idea or two, reading some historical non-fiction may be a good place to start. There are people and tales buried within these accounts that may provide the basis to build all manner of new stories. Even the smallest titbit of information may be all you need to start you down the path to your new book.
So what do you think? Any more things you can learn from historical fiction? Please share in the comments?
Absolutely agree. Historical fiction allows a deep dive into someone’s interpretation of historical characters in a way that history doesn’t. I think Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy is a great example of this.
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Very true – I really must read that one.
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