Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Staying Inspired

Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Staying Inspired

Writing a story takes a lot of time, effort, and motivation. It takes allowing the characters to grow in your mind, imagining the type of setting/s you’ll be placing them in, and deciding where you want the book to begin, go, and end.

As I’ve found through the planning process of my own current novel, which has consumed all of my creative writing energy for the past couple of years, writing a historical fiction novel, in particular, is even harder to plan and write than other genres, in my opinion. There’s certainly much more research involved, as historical fiction is typically based around something that really happened, to some extent!

Related Post: Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Research Tips

So the question is, how does one stay inspired on the path of planning and writing a historical fiction novel? That’s what I’ll be talking about today, and I hope that I’ll be able to inspire you … to stay inspired in your writing!


1. Visit your local library. Look at books on the time period/historical event you’re basing your story around, then read the parts that interest you. Make sure to take notes! Or, if you prefer, take some books home to look at later. In Georgia, we have a ton of libraries, and the majority of them are part of the Georgia Pines Library System. That means that I can put books on hold from all over the state, as well as visit new libraries and have all my books checked out on the same card! It’s pretty awesome, and I appreciate how many libraries I’ve been able to go to over the years. And when it comes to story research, it’s very helpful to have multiple library selections!

2. Browse online articles. I much prefer going to the library to find my inspiration, although I must say, it is extremely helpful to have hundreds of thousands of website pages available for free on a huge variety of topics! You can look up very specific things and instantly find the type of information you’re looking for; at the library, it takes a bit more digging (which I honestly enjoy).

3. Make a story board on Pinterest. I’ve made these for multiple novels that I’ve been working on over the past couple of years! However, I have found that, for myself, at least, they’re helpful in theory; I have yet to finish writing a book that I had a storyboard for. It’s very strange. Although I have been struggling to complete a book since 2014 … oh, the sad life of a writer.

4. Keep a notebook full of novel inspiration. As a matter of fact, keep two notebooks; one for research notes and structured story ideas and character profiles, and another for when ideas just come to you! This can be anything from a character trait, to an exciting scene, to a killer opening line. Even if it seems crazy when it pops into your head, don’t doubt the power it can have in your novel!

Those are my tips to stay inspired! Did any of them help you?
What are your tips?

Do YOU have any ideas on keeping the inspiration coming when writing a novel? Comment down below!

— Maggie

36 thoughts on “Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Staying Inspired

  1. I admire that you have the ability to write a novel. I do not have the patience. We have discussed patience it not my virtue, although thank God, I am better than I was 🙂

    I think the 2 notebooks are a great idea. I know people prefer electronics now but it seems to me that paper would afford you the luxury of seeing several different things at once as well as, editing. You can see what and how you did that. Seems electronically if its edited, well there is no getting back what you have changed.

    I love library’s and can see how having so many, and with the ease of reserving books that it would make it really convenient. Plus there isn’t anything like a book 🙂 And as you are obviously using several at a time you can line them all up, overlap them and be able to jump from one to another to compare.

    I can’t wait until you are done. ‘m looking forward to reading it. Oh speaking of being done, there are authors that take YEARS AND YEARS to complete a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely prefer paper to electronics when it comes to story planning, but I can only write the stories themselves on a Word program on our PC, haha! Writing a novel sure does take patience. I’m quite embarrassed to admit that despite how long I’ve been working on this particular book, I don’t have a draft I’m currently working on. *sighs* This hasn’t happened to me before! But I have so many ideas, so I just have to find a way to string them all together and make it work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s ok, at least you are having too many ideas. It’s when you are having NO ideas that’s when we will worry 🙂 Do what you’ve been doing and write them all down. It will all come together, when it is suppose to, 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha that’s very true! But having so many that they drown each other out is almost just as bad as crickets chirping. Haha. I’m excited about finishing it someday, although I have no clue when that will be 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post! Writing a book is really hard, I love to write and sometimes I just get stuck on the second paragraph on what to say.
    I guess I always have writers block?? Libraries are the best, they are really inspiring, and that’s really cool that you can put books on hold all over!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Eva! I’m glad you liked it. Writing a book does take quite a bit of time; I’ve been working on my current one for almost two years! I’ve been hit by writer’s block so much over the years, haha. The best way to bear writer’s block is to surround yourself with inspiration – pictures, quotes, etc! It always helps me 🙂 Libraries really are amazing! You’re very welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another lovely idea I’ve heard is to write down exciting and fun words when reading, so you don’t end up using the same adjective or verb a lot! Keep the word palette fresh!

    Hats off to you for writing historical fiction, I’m working on a fantasy/realistic fiction series right now. I wish you best of luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a very good idea! It’s important not to use the same/similar words over and over in writing, so keeping the word palette fresh, like you said, is essential. 🙂 Thank you! Best of luck to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These are good ideas, Maggie. I really like the Pinterest story board idea! I actually do a similar thing, but I just save photos to a special folder on my hard drive (the folder is within the parent folder for the particular writing project).

    I have one notebook at a time for a project, but I use post-its to separate it into sections – one for an outline, one for research points, and others for character info. For my latest project I’ve done this all in Word files, but for my next project I’m keen to try Scrivener. Have you heard of that program? There is a 30 (or 45? 60?) day free trial of it available.

    My best method for getting ideas down is that whenever a scene develops in my head, I write it down in a Word file asap (or a post-it or whatever paper is available to me at that time if I’m not at my computer). I try to finish the scene, even if it’s just dialogue, but I don’t bother with proper ending or start points. I just have enough in there. Then I save the file with the “title” of the scene. Later I will go back and fit it into the draft. I guess this is a good compromise of being a pantser versus a plotter.

    Good luck keeping the inspiration up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Katherine! Those are great ideas. I love having pictures on hand, whether they’re on Pinterest or our PC, to keep me visually inspired 🙂 I have heard of Scrivener, I think that I looked into that before! I also try to write down scenes when they pop into my head, then weave them into my story when I can. 🙂 It’s important to get them down on paper before they disappear!


  5. Great post, Maggie. I agree with all of the points that you made because I do them too… except the visiting library part. I usually order the books now because I find that I always want to keep them longer. I am currently doing research for a historical novel that takes place in 17th century Port-of-Spain. I work in a library so I can borrow the books and keep them as long as I like. I’m a lazy writer, though! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Diana! I do the same thing with books; if I need certain ones to study for a long period of time, I will buy them, but otherwise, the library is my best friend, haha 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve given some great advice here 🙂 I’ve had an idea for a novel set in the Bronze Age in the Black Sea region – but it’s been a huge challenge to get started. The wealth of information is overwhelming! I love your idea of a visual story board – it might help me plot my story through all the info I’ve accumulated.


  7. Oh, don’t feel bad about working on one since 2014. I started one in 2006 that I’m still working on. 😂 At this point, I think the best thing for it is to completely overhaul the world it’s set in. No starting on Earth and getting transported to a strange land this time – it starts and ends on the other world, which will have several different settings.

    Thanks for sharing; this was inspirational even though mine isn’t a historical fiction novel. (I want to write one some day though!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh that is definitely dedication! Story writing takes waaaay longer than I would have thought. I admire people who can come out with series like that 😂 That book of yours sounds so cool! Do you have a title for it yet? You’re welcome; I’m glad my post inspired you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! 🙂 Haha, does it ever! It’s also harder than I thought it would be, but the work is worth it. 😉

        Me too! I’m working on a trilogy and it’s taking so much longer than I thought it would; I can’t imagine an entire series right now, though one of the books I’ve finished was intended to be the first of a series; I just sort of stopped because I hit a few roadblocks. 😂

        Maybe. XD None of the names are set in stone. When I started the overhaul, I realized it might work better if I separated the people – I originally had 17 characters and it was too hard for me to keep up with 😂 – so now I have five books with about 3 – 7 main characters apiece. Each main character has a “superpower” and I categorized them as follows (hang on to your hat): The Elementals (fire, air, earth, water), The Unexplainables (electricity, gravity, magnetism), The Senses (includes common sense and the sixth sense), The Unnaturals (controlling plants and maybe animals, super genius, shape-shifter, temperature), and The Emotives (emotion, perception, sleep, and time). The plan is that each one is a standalone but they kind of go together, similar to Ingrid Law’s Savvy, Scumble, and Switch. (I still may change things though; that’s just how it stands now.) Each one takes place on the same world, but it’s similar to different time periods on Earth. I imagine the Elementals being in medieval times, while I can see the Unnaturals in America before Columbus discovered it. It’s going to be a wild ride. XD

        If I may ask, do you have a book title yet, and what is it about? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahh, story roadblocks are the bane of my existence! They have killed so many potential books for me 😂

        Oh my goodness. That series is going to be fantastic!!! 😍 That seriously sounds like a potential bestseller; I’m serious.

        Yeah, I’m calling mine Galaxite! It’s the name of the main character, who’s named after a type of spinel mineral 🙂 I’ve changed plots and the main cast sooo many times; she’s really the only thing that has stayed the same, and even she has gone through a few personality and appearance changes! I know I want it to be a medieval story about her, probably as a peasant, or maybe as royalty (maybe both…hmm). For now, it’s pretty vague 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We should make a “novel graveyard” for our dead potential books. 😂

        Wow, thank you so much! 🙂 ♥ I’m so excited for it, and I really want to start the first draft this November for NaNoWriMo. (Which means taking a much-needed break from the trilogy. XD) I think I will tackle The Elementals first, because I already know what my fire-guy (Raphael) and my water-girl (currently named Wendy, but I would like a name that has more of a “medieval” ring to it eventually) will be like, so I won’t have to do as much character planning for that one. 😀

        Oh, I love, love, LOVE your title! 😍 Aww, haha; sometimes changes are good though, to really figure out what you want to do with it. The premise sounds very interesting. 🙂 (Especially the “both” part – what plot twists and secrets can lie within that!)

        Any chance you may write for NaNoWriMo? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ahahaha yesss 😂👌🏼

        You’re very welcome! I love both of those names 😍 but if you’re looking for a more medieval girl name, it’s pretty easy to find ideas online! I would know, since I’m doing a medieval story as well, haha.

        Aww thank you so much! It is taking me much longer than I would have liked to secure a plot lol, but it’ll happen one day. Ooh I’d love to write it for NaNoWriMo! That’s a great idea 🙂 I’ll have to keep that in mind. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thanks! 🙂 I haven’t looked for medieval names online; I really should. 😀 There’s a possibility that Wendy is from a different part of the world, so that name could end up working if I decide to keep it. (There is also a chance that she is an elf… I’m not sure yet exactly how much fantasy I’m including in this, haha. XD )

        Yes, it’ll happen! 🙂 Cool! This means we may both be writing for NaNoWriMo then! We can encourage each other if this happens. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ahh that’s a good idea! It would be so cool if she was an elf, haha 😍 Definitely! We’ll have to add each other on there so we can stay in contact 😄

        Liked by 1 person

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