Ten Rules to follow when Writing Historical Fiction – A Guest Post by Author Hazel West
As part of her blog tour for her new novel, By Blood or By Bond, Author Hazel West is joining us to talk briefly about the world of Historical Fiction, something similar (but not the same) as my personal favorite genre – alternate history. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good Roman History novel. Enjoy!
Ten (Unnoficial) Things You Should Know About Writing Historical Fiction
1. First off, it’s fiction. That means you can bend the truth a little bit if you want to. So if you can’t find that info you need, make it up. Or add a little alternate history or steampunk if you want.
2. The awesome things you have the chance to try out. Think of it: reenacting epic battles in your back yard (scaring the neighbors), playing around with swords, (and don’t forget jousting with your bicycle and a broom handle!) trying Roman recipes, a medieval feast, or having a traditional posh English tea. The possibilities are endless.
3. You get to write about all your favorite historical figures if you so choose! Think of it: your words in the mouth of such as George Washington, or Hannibal! Okay, that might be a daunting thing at times, but if you just go for it, I find it works out a lot better.
4. You’ll get to clear the library out of all the books on your topic, thus making everyone else very annoyed, probably. Just remember not to hurt your back carrying them all out of the library.
5. Read some historical novels about the same time period. No, not to copy other author’s work (that’s plagiarism!), but to get a feel for how things are described or how you might go about it. Smells, sounds, sights, of the time period. Also, it’s a good excuse to get a few fun reads in while you’re supposed to be doing research.
6. If possible, check out the historical sights you are writing about. If this isn’t possible, then watching documentaries or travel videos works too. Just don’t put too much faith in Hollywood, because most of the time historical films are NOT filmed on site.
7. Okay, I won’t lie, you’re probably going to butt heads with people who say your books aren’t accurate. If this happens, direct them to Number One.
8. You’ll have to do copious amounts of research. There’s going to be a lot of every day things you won’t know about when writing historical fiction. Obviously, your medieval peasant can’t just pop open a package of Poptarts for breakfast, and if you think they can, you have a lot of research to do. 30% of writing historical fiction is coming up with a story and characters, the other 70% is research, research, and more research! Do not neglect it, even if you don’t use it all.
9. As with every novel, you are going to have to do multiple edits and possibly even re-writes. But with historical fiction, comes the further fact checking. Maybe if you’re lucky, you can find a fellow writer or reader who knows a lot about your book subject too to read it over for you and tell you if everything is good and historically sound (within reason, that is). If they complain about that crucial, irreplaceable part of your book not being accurate, remember to refer them, once again, to Number One.
10. As with every book, Have Fun! Historical fiction is probably the most fun genre to research next to mystery writing (unless you do historical mysteries, of course!). I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve come up with while researching for one book and finding other things that would make fantastic novels. It might be harder work than writing something from your own time period, but I guarantee you, it’s an adventure all on it’s own and very rewarding in the end!
About the Author:
Hazel West lives in Florida where she spend a good bit of time writing historical fiction about brave men and women who have graced the pages of history, trying to bring more light to their legacies so readers of all ages will enjoy them.
Hazel’s favorite things/hobbies: Writing obviously, listening to and playing Irish and Scottish folk music, practicing with all eras and types of historical weaponry, GOOD COFFEE, reading of course, dark (dark) chocolate, sketching/painting, hats, scarves and boots, collecting little old-fashioned things of all kinds, buying books, and don’t forget dressing in period clothing!
You can find Hazel on her Blog, via twitter @artfulscribbler, or on Goodreads
Click onward to read a description and teaser of Hazel’s new novel, By Blood or By Bond.
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