Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Write Historical Fiction - Tips from Anna Solomon

On Thursday, Anna Solomon, author of THE LITTLE BRIDE, came to my historical fiction class. It was a really fun experience, as it isn't all that often (if ever) that you read a book in class and then get to ask the author questions about it. She had a lot of helpful things to say on the topic of writing historical fiction, so I thought I would share some of her tips with you in case you guys ever want to delve into the world of historical fiction - or are there now!

1. Just because something is set in the past doesn't mean that the tone has to be super-formal. I thought this was a really good point to make, as a lot of people do often see history as a little bit stuffy, but in reality, even though etiquette rules were different, people were still people - not everyone is always formal all the time. Your writing will be much more enjoyable for the reader - and much more fun for you too! - if you let yourself loosen up about it a little.

2. Fiction written during the time period can be really helpful. Obviously, this is easier for some time periods than others, but it is a good way to put yourself in the mindset of people who really lived during the time period you've chosen to work with.

3. In terms of detail, consider how you might say the same thing in a modern setting and how much detail you'd need to get your point across, and use the same amount of detail for your historical work. For instance, if you're saying "he walked down the street," do you really need to tell us about every cobblestone or gaslamp? Unless your character trips over the cobblestones, probably not.

4. Social histories, contemporary newspapers, and contemporary journals are excellent ways to learn more about everyday life in your time period. Again, this is easier to find for some places and times than others, but it's still a good thing to be looking for.

Anna Solomon's visit was really exciting, and she had a lot of informative and helpful things to say. It was great meeting her, and I can't wait to apply some of her research techniques to my next project.

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