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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, April 8, 2013

3 Tips on Writing Historical Fiction + Announcements


I hope everyone had a great Easter! My only announcements for this week are that I have two signings near the end of it.

1) Thursday, 4/11 I will be signing/selling books at the Ogden Hastings store from 3 to 5 pm. 
2) Friday, 4/12 I will be signing/selling books at the Barnes and Noble in Layton, Utah from 1-3 pm.

If you're local, come on in and see me, even if you don't buy anything. I'd love to meet you!

3 Tips on Writing Historical Fiction

I've been asked several times over the past few weeks how I come up with ideas for my historical fiction stories. I always explain how I came up with an idea for a specific story, but it got me thinking about how I come up with histfic ideas in general. Below are some tips if you're interested in writing historical fiction, but don't know how to get the creative juices flowing.

1) DO read, listen to, or learn about history.

Many of my ideas came from when I was in college. I was a history minor and so took lots of history classes. In that case, I was listening to lectures and taking notes, but I would constantly come up with ideas, flip to the back of my notebook to write it down, then flip back and try to get caught up on the notes I missed while writing the idea down. It's an awesome way to give yourself hand cramps. ;D Reading or watching about history works just as well, though.

2) DO take what you've learned and ask yourself how this could be applied to us today.

You're looking for basic conflicts, but a new, alien, historical context to present them in. For example, most of at some point in our lives have to deal with situations we have no control over. But most of us haven't experienced it in conjunction with a major world war, the Jewish religion and the prospect of concentration camps. If you can find a new, interesting situation people aren't familiar with (preferably in a historical context) and then present compelling, relatable conflicts, you have a great historical fiction story!

3) DON'T ask yourself how you can change history to make things better. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. As a writer, you're given license over some small things, of course, but don't try to change or drastically reinterpret history to make your story better. I promise your target audience won't thank you for it.

What do you think? Any tips for conceiving historical fiction stories?


  1. Changing history is tricky business Liesel. Best left for the experts.

  2. Historical fiction writers aren't trying to change history, Maurice, they want to insert new/unknown events and people into what is already there and fill out the story in an entertaining way. And nobody is born an expert on history. I don't see anything wrong with studying a particular timeline and letting your imagination go public with it. Good HF is one of my favs.
    Great post, Liesel. I'm finally getting back into visiting blogs again after our move. Glad to say hi again.

  3. Ah yes, number three is a plus for me seeing as only I am "The Infallible Historian" in my fictional worlds.