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Monday, May 16, 2016

Historical Fiction--Read It and Write It!

History is one subject we all had to take during our education years. We studied American History and World History, Ancient History and that closer to our own times. There were dates to be memorized, treaties and pacts to figure out and myriad historical figures who influenced our lives to this very day.

Even with all that, history was sometimes boring and even a bit overwhelming. Facts and figures, personalities and battles become great blurs once we are past the learning process for this subject. 

I find a far more painless way to learn history is to read historical fiction stories and novels. It's one of my favorite genres. It's painless because we get involved in a good story and many of those facts and figures drop unnoticed into our subconscious. Instead of learning a list of Civil War battles, we can read about fictitious folk who lived through it because an author put them there.

We can read about a slave girl in ancient Rome who served her mistress well enough to be made a favorite messenger sent to warn soldiers of a coming siege. Or the story of immigrants who fled religious persecution, sailing on none-too-sturdy ships across an ocean to a newly settled country. 

Yes, we can read about those things but we can also write those stories. I have written several historical fiction short stories for kids. They are as enjoyable to write as reading them. I like making up the characters and slipping them into a particular period of history in our country. I try to add bits and pieces to show the times when the story takes place. Knowonder! ezine published one I especially liked writing. It takes place during the Civil War and features a young Southerner stuck in the Northern Territory, trying to reach Southern lines and a father fighting on that side to give a special message. You can read the story here if you would like to get an idea of ways to incorporate history into a fiction story.

Things to keep in mind when writing Historical Fiction:
  • Check you facts--you don't want to make up dates, battles etc.
  • Be careful you don't end up giving a historical lecture--stick to the fiction story itself
  • Use fiction techniques to tell the story but add accurate historical points
  • Sprinkle in details about clothing, foods, transportation and more
  • Develop characters your readers can relate to
If Historical Fiction writing is new to you or relatively so, use your favorite search engine to find article with tips from writers who have experience in this genre. Read and absorb the suggestions, then give it a try on your own. 

Whether you write for kids or for adults, Historical Fiction is worth trying. One of the Historical Fiction novels that is set in my state of Kansas gives a good picture of what homesteading was like here in the nineteenth century but it is also a wonderful story about people and how they meet new challenges. Check out Never Waste Tears by Gloria Zachgo on Amazon. 

What Historical Fiction books or stories would you recommend to others? Ones you especially liked and have stayed in your mind long after you finished reading? 

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