Hello everyone! I hope that you’re all doing well. (: I have a fun post to share with you today! It has been quite a while since I wrote an addition to my mini series Writing A Historical Fiction Novel, and as I am now writing one such novel myself (so exciting!), I wanted to share with you my tips on balancing fact and fiction in writing historical novels.
This topic has proven to be quite a difficulty for me over the last couple of years. There have been times where I couldn’t decide if I should base an action, setting, or something a character is saying off of complete fact, or if it was okay for me to put a fictional spin on it. As I have explored the art of writing in this genre, I’ve found that this is one of the hardest things to decide. You simply can’t turn to the notes you’ve taken over the months so that what the character is doing is 100% realistic … and yet, how does one balance historic fact and fictional charm? That’s what I’ll be going over today! I hope that you enjoy!
Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~
Balancing Fact and Fiction: My 5 Tips
1. Do all of your research. By this, I mean whatever works for you and what you have in mind! If you want to know the time period you’re basing your story in forward and back, by all means, do that research. You rock! If you want to study the main settings, stories, and famous figures of your time period and then begin writing, that definitely works, too. Or, if you’re interested in sitting down to write and research everything as you go, that works, as well. Whatever works for you! Unless this is an assignment, or something, there is no right or wrong way to research history. For me, I worked on a lot over a short period of time, then slowly learned about other aspects of the time period I’m studying as I needed the information in my stories.
2. Know what story you want to write. This one may seem obvious. However, when it comes to writing historical fiction, it is an essential! Do you want your novel to be loosely based on a certain past event? Or do you want to teach your readers all about very specific details on the way life was in your era? If you want your story to dabble in history, or you bring it up every now and then, establishing this will help you figure out your style of writing, as well as how much research you should do. I have decided to research a good amount, then set to writing the first draft, planning to work out the historical details later.
3. Draw these three main things from your notes:
– scene ideas (when you read a historical fact you jotted down, does it inspire you to put your own spin on the fact?),
– time period accuracy (you need to know when and where people and settings should be so that you don’t mix up decades or centuries), and
– info on famous people/places of the time (can you work them into your story?).
4. Write now; verify history later. This is an important one if you’re wanting to enjoy the process of writing your first draft! It can be tempting to look back through what you’ve written down or browse the internet to make sure that they did use forks in Greece and Italy before the rest of the world (which they actually did). However, if the verification of some aspect in your story can wait until later and doesn’t alter the plot, I recommend that you fix things historically later. You’ll be much happier and laid-back about writing if you’re not checking facts every other paragraph!
5. Don’t stress about it. I’ve had to tell myself this while making myself put down my writing notebook for the hundredth time. Checking unimportant details later is definitely the way to go for me.
Thank you so much for reading, guys! I love this little series; the posts I’ve done have all been very fun to write. 🙂 I hope you all have a great day! Make sure to let me know in the comments below:
Did these tips help YOU?
thanks to jirah and elline for my signature! xx