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Historical Fiction Genre
Historical fiction is fiction based on events that happened in the past or on people who lived in the past. I enjoyed history in school, but intentionally stayed away from reading any historical fiction. I really didn’t think that it would be entertaining or enjoyable at all. How wrong I was! The first historical fiction novel I read was The Black Madonna of Derby, written by Joanna Czechowska. From it, I learned that I actually enjoyed historical fiction. Now I am hooked on it.
If you do not enjoy reading historical fiction or if you are not a history buff, then this may not be a genre in which you want to set a story. There is a lot of research involved if you want to write historical fiction, but the resulting story should not read like a history textbook. Your reader may want to learn about a certain historical event or period of time, but he wants to learn about it in an entertaining fashion.
First, you need to choose the time period you want to write about. Say your story is to be set in medieval England. What type of clothing was worn? What type of houses did they live in? What were the customs of the day? What was the government like? What was everyday life like during this time? What historical events took place? How did people communicate? How were the children raised? How were criminals punished? Were there any wars during this time? How was it decided who went off to fight?
Now it is time for the research. With the internet, research possibilities are endless. Whatever time you choose to write about, make sure you do your research thoroughly, just try not to get lost in it. If you make a mistake, one of your readers is bound to notice. What you are writing may be fiction, but it is important to portray the times correctly. If your story is set during colonial times, you don’t want one of characters singing the lyrics to a song by Madonna, nor do you want one of them using a cell phone.
Once you have chosen the time period of your story, you need to come up with a plot. Maybe events that happened during that period will suggest a plot to you. Choose something that interests you greatly that happened during the chosen time period and start to ask ‘what if’ questions. Whatever plot you choose, you need to allow it to be shaped by the period you have chosen. A story set during the medieval times in England could focus on the legend of Robin Hood or King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Or it could simply focus on a servant girl who works in the castle.
Your characters shape the story and make it happen. Whatever historical event happens during the time your story is set in, you want your readers wrapped up in the lives of your characters and what they are experiencing during this time.
If you are interested in writing historical fiction, I would recommend reading the following novels in this genre:
Pursuit of Happiness, by Sheldon Greene, takes place during the Revolutionary War.
The Day Before the Berlin Wall, by T.H.E. Hill, takes place during the Cold War and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
A Knight Like No Other, by Jocelyn Kelley, is a historical romance that takes place in 12th century England.
Outlaw, by Angus Donald, also takes place in 12th century England. It focuses on a young boy who is forced to leave his family to live with Robin Hood and his band of outlaws.
The above books will give you a taste of some of the different ways of writing historical fiction. All of them are quite readable and thoroughly enjoyable.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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