For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
Fiction is divided into many genres. One of these genres is historical fiction.
I am a fan of this genre as a reader and I also write it. In addition, as a writing consultant and editor, I advise writers and one of the genres that I do this for is historical fiction. Here are ten great things about this genre, that can be incorporated into tips for writing within this exciting and diverse genre.
1) Insight into another era – Unless you have a time machine in your basement, historical fiction is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a different era.
2) Transportive locations – Ancient Egypt. WWI France. Philadelphia 1776. You know what to expect from these settings immediately. Each is unique and not like life today. It can be even more exciting when you discover a place and time that you’ve not read about before. It can be especially interesting to see that, although the settings are different, humanity is often largely the same. Which brings us to the next point…
3) The strength of the human spirit – Historical stories are not always in war settings, but life in general was often more complicated. The ability to thrive in difficult circumstances is a testament to the strength of humanity.
4) Variety of subgenres – More than a genre, historical fiction is really a means of setting. Within it, there is mystery, suspense, romance, adventure and often these are combined in the same book.
5) Variety of Time periods – Contemporary fiction is interesting but it’s constrained to now. Historical fiction is broad meaning from pre-history all the way until WWII (usually- although some specific publishers use different endpoints).
6) Variety of locations – This may seem obvious, but history happened to the entire world. That means these stories can be anywhere! You can read about Egypt one day, France the next and Korea on the third- all within the realm of historical fiction.
7) Mix of Real and Imagined Characters – Some of these stories are based on real historical figures. Some aren’t. Some are an intriguing mix of both.
8) Costumes – I say costumes because it’s evocative of the wider meaning here. In short, there are hundreds of historical details that can be included- costumes, machinery, houses, cars, carriages, etc etc!
9) Nuances of everyday life – In the past, people did things differently. We all know this, of course. What can be really interesting is uncovering what were hot inventions at the time or seeing how many steps it once took to do something simple today.
10) Variations because of historical restraints – Characters have to accomplish seemingly easy tasks for contemporary characters in new and exciting ways in historical fiction, because of historical restraints. Want to pick up the phone and call to tell your neighbor that he is danger? Guess what? For centuries in historical fiction, that’s very difficult to do. Need to go on a trip? Great! No planes or cars. Book a steamship or a carriage or walk. You get the idea. Also, the best historical fiction shows the particulars that are relevant to the story and avoids generalizations to make it feel “historical”. Historical fiction is rich and varied and details can help bring that to life.
My best to you all,
Megan Easley-Walsh is a writing consultant, editor, writer and researcher. She provides professional editing services for writers and advises and assists in the writing process. For all your writing and editing needs visit http://www.the-writing-consultant.com