by Anna Wahler
Historical fiction is no different from other genres in that a strong antagonist makes for a strong story. But when it comes to history, your villains can no longer be wizards, starship captains, or dystopian overlords. They have to come from real places, and often involve real events that had devastating effects. That’s why I believe that historical villains need a little extra attention.
by Anna Wahler
History is full of captivating men and women–without any character building required. But writing about human beings that really existed can come with a whole other slew of potential issues. Many writers have successfully integrated real men and women from history into creative works, and others have been criticized for this act. Currently, I haven’t attempted to write a work of fiction centered on a real historical figure, but it’s a concept that’s very interesting to me. Below are some thoughts on the art of pilfering real characters from the pages of history.
For the purpose of this post, I’m writing about fiction in which a historical person takes a leading role. Cases in which a fictional protagonist crosses paths with a well-known and real historical figure are a completely different subject. (more…)
by Amanda Mae Downey
Not too long ago, a colleague of mine was very excited to tell me that he was writing a book. When I asked him what it was about, he immediately confessed to not writing female characters. He said that they were problematic, dramatic, and just got into too many romances that distracted his male characters from being successful.
He wasn’t a historical fiction writer, but his mindset on female characters happens to be how a lot of historical fiction writers treat the female characters they choose to include. Nobody’s a saint, and nobody wants to write or read a Mary Sue. But women want real representation in fiction. We want characters that are more that just stereotypes of who we are. This isn’t just a rant for male writers, though. Listen up, ladies. You might also be degrading your own sex in historical fiction.
So let’s fix that.
When you’re writing historical fiction, you need to get your facts straight–right? But the important thing to remember is that you’re writing a novel, not a textbook. It can be frustrating to try and keep your novel true to life, while also not getting bogged down with so much detail it becomes problematic. Below we’ve shared a few of our ideas on how to balance facts with fiction–literally
What is historical accuracy in this context?
Amanda Mae: When you’re writing fiction, historical accuracy is your way of keeping your work realistic and giving it period-correct details
Anna: This is what makes historical fiction appealing. When we read it, we don’t want to stop every few paragraphs and wonder “was this really invented in 1812?” We want to be taken on a journey where we are learning and given insight into the world of a certain era. I don’t know about you, but once in a blue moon I’ve read a so-called historical novel in which I found inaccuracies. After that point, the credibility of the novel fell away. I no longer felt like I was reading a well-put together story. This is something I want to avoid happening to my own stories. (more…)