Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Balancing Fact and Fiction

Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Balancing Fact and Fiction

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.

Related Post: Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Research Tips

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?).

Related Post: Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Staying Inspired

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

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!

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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

Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Research Tips

Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Research Tips

Sad fact: I’ve always struggled to plan stories. From the time that I was writing short stories about my pets as a kid, I’ve struggled to plan ahead; if I have an awesome story idea, I want to go ahead and start writing, regardless of whether the story has any structure, or not.

Most of the stories that I’ve written go absolutely nowhere; I’ve had to quit writing them because any potential reader wouldn’t know what was going on, nor did I at those points! 😂

It was alright when I was a kid, but with all of my experience as a writer now … it’s probably a good time to start figuring out the best way for me to plan stories.

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For a while now (at least a year, or so), I’ve been planning – a lot. I’ve been researching and studying and reading and writing – okay, those are all basically the same thing. lol Either way, I have been working because I want to write a historical fiction novel based in the Middle Ages – and I can’t do that without a whole lot of research.

Related Post: Writing a Historical Fiction Novel ~ Staying Inspired

In part one of this series, I’m going to share with you four things that I’ve learned on this journey of story research. I hope that it can encourage you if you’re planning a novel, or if you’re interested in ever doing it. 😊

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{Research Tips}

1. Keep all the facts in one place. I’ve been tempted to digitize everything or to upgrade to a pretty binder, but it has been so nice to have everything in just one notebook! Nothing gets lost, I didn’t have to spend extra money on something prettier … 👍🏼

2. Write out a table of contents. I’m currently working on one so that when I’m writing the story one day, I’ll be able to find different topics that I’ve written about. Even though I’ve written everything down, I won’t be able to remember all of it, which is why it’s so important for me to have a table of contents. For now, they’re just a note on my phone, as it isn’t quite done …

3. Find your favorite type of resource, then work with it. For me personally, I like finding the information I need through library books. I also have a folder on my phone that has links to articles on topics that I want/need to learn about, things I might not find in books. Other people might enjoy videos or online research more; it’s just a thing of preference.

4. Unless you’re on a timed schedule, only work when you feel motivated. This project is just for me, and I’m not doing it for any writing challenge, so I don’t have a deadline or a goal to reach. I research when I feel inspired and only then; it takes a lot of work! If I tried to push it and study every week, I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much.

For example, I’m really focusing on learning about medieval gardening for the time being, and even though I like what I’m finding out about it, I’ve had to go through a lot of dry books and boring online articles to find what I’m really looking for. It’s crazy how deep I have to study just to find the facts!

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What’s YOUR best studying tip?

Thanks for reading! Have a great evening/night. 💕

— Maggie