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The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction
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The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  86 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Once Upon a Time, it was NOW...While a historian stands firmly planted in the present and looks back into the past, a historical novelist has a more immediate task: to set readers in the midst of bygone events and lead them forward, allowing them to live and" feel" the wonderment, fear, hope, triumph, and pain as if they were there.

In "The Art and Craft of Writing Historic
Paperback, 249 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 27th 2010)
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Carol Morgan
I enjoyed this book, but felt the author talked too much about his own historical writings. I also believe some of his research methods are outdated. He talks about using index cards for research and going to a library. Every bit of this can be done online and there are writing programs that function in the same way as index cards. He did have good advice about seeing history in a new way and not always believing the research you read.

All in all, somewhat helpful.
Laura Talley
Mar 20, 2013 Laura Talley rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-writing-career
I've been working on a novel off and on for over two years. Every time I think I'm ready to finally write it, I realize I have gaping holes in my research, and with the research comes new plots and the need for more research. I thought I was doing something wrong and wanted some tips on how to write it, and I got them. While Thom focuses primarily on American history and I am looking at the near East, I was still able to extract the information I needed to move confidently forward, knowing I'm o ...more
Carrie Slager
Feb 14, 2014 Carrie Slager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-bought
Well, to close off History Month here on The Mad Reviewer, I decided to review this non-fiction book on how to write historical fiction. Because why not? I picked this book up on speculation because I’m an amateur writer in my free time and I love to write historical fiction (which ends up being utter crap). So now I can review it from a reviewer’s and a writer’s perspective.

James Alexander Thom is a man that doesn’t fool around when he writes; he never sugarcoats the truth. The truth is, you wi
Phillip McCollum
May 20, 2013 Phillip McCollum rated it liked it
Most writing books I've read can sit comfortably on a scale with Technical on one side and Inspirationalon the other. James Thom's The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction definitely leans toward the latter, and that's not necessarily a bad thing if you know what you're getting into. There are plenty of excellent craft books out there that will serve you better on the technical aspects (Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writercomes to mind).

The primary message in Thom's book is
L.M. Elm
Mar 14, 2013 L.M. Elm rated it liked it
I'm all over the place with my reading. Usually I have a books in about every room, all in some state of incompletion. One book I finished recently The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom, who has good insite into writing about the genre. But I was a little put off by some of his chapters. Especially the one dealing with credibility.

Thom states that many scholars of non-fiction snub their noses at historical fiction. While he gives the merits of both, he has an en
Aug 19, 2013 Lauren rated it liked it
There were many things I liked about this book, but a couple of things that weren't great. First off, I love that he wrote this because there is barely anything like it out there. Also, this man seems to be a genius at research and it showed. He gave great tips for it. On the other hand, he spoke about himself and his own interests too much. That's perfect for a different kind of book, but not for guidebooks like this. Thom writes American historical fiction. Great for him. But he needed to also ...more
Erica Cosminsky
Aug 06, 2013 Erica Cosminsky rated it liked it
Surprised at how poor this "millions of books sold" author is with transitions. Many of his sections end mid thought.
Also I am offended by his wife's unintroduced, uncredited chapter on genealogy. Why would you leave a reader suddenly questioning why you said "my husband". My grandmother is Cherokee so I'm very familiar with Native American research. (Yes actually documented.) This lady comes across as a bitter, know-it-all. Much better ways to educate people than to call your readers stupid.
Aug 28, 2010 Marwa rated it liked it
This book had some very good advice regarding writing in general, and some tips on writing historical fiction. Its major drawback was that it was very focused on specifically writing American historical fiction, which made several chapters completely irrelevant to anyone not writing historical fiction set in America. The author was also very Internet unfriendly. Yes, the Internet may not be the most credible source of information, but to almost completely disregard it was, in my opinion, another ...more
Daniel Bowman
Jan 03, 2015 Daniel Bowman rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Not a how to book.
But helpful in ideas for being in the scene. I also liked the references to his writings and the numerous historical tidbits.
Linda Ulleseit
Apr 25, 2014 Linda Ulleseit rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Good information and wonderfully inspiring to finish my novel!
Eileen Iciek
Aug 06, 2013 Eileen Iciek rated it liked it
If you are interested in writing historical fiction in 18th and 19th century America, this book may provide some help for you. However, Persia Wooley's book on writing historical fiction was more thorough and helpful re: the details of writing any kind of historical fiction.

This author spends a lot of time discussing the books he has written and the books other writers that he knows have written. Not particularly helpful. I really learned nothing new from this.
Dan Shaurette
This is a fine book, but is serves more as the biography of an author of historical fiction than what I was looking for, which is a tool to help me become an author of historical fiction.

Really, the only useful chapter was Chapter 11 - Songs, Smells and Sensations. This held real advice. The rest of the book is his musings.

This is not to say it is a bad book, it just isn't what I'm looking for.
Apr 07, 2012 Brandi rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, writing
I did not enjoy this book--the author's voice did not draw me into it. In fact, the way he kept referring to himself and his writing really turned me off of this book. I do not mind at all when writer's talk about their work--that's the whole purpose of reading a book where they are trying to teach you the craft of writing. I guess I just don't like this author.
Lisa J
Apr 11, 2013 Lisa J rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing, bedtime
Any researcher worth their salt knows the tips and tricks that Thom and his wife discuss. Hopefully a writer is a bit of a researcher - even if they're making up a world out of whole cloth, they are still "researching" that world. If you've done any research on your own on any topic, you don't need this book.
Jerry Landry
May 23, 2010 Jerry Landry rated it it was amazing
Excellent insight into what all is involved in writing a historical novel. While it touches some on style, the main focus is content and driving home the idea that the story must draw the reader in with verisimilitude. To use a cliche, the devil's in the details for Thom.
Jul 30, 2012 Chris added it
In some ways, this was a very good overview of writing historical fiction. Thom is a seasoned pro, and he has many helpful insights into writing. The book is peppered with amusing and interesting anecdotes from his writing career.
David Lottes
Dec 20, 2012 David Lottes rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed it very much. I recommend it to anyone working in the genre, especially those just getting started. It is in large part a biographical piece with loads of insights into Mr. Thom's long career.
Anne Broyles
Feb 12, 2011 Anne Broyles rated it liked it
This is a good book for beginner researchers in historical fiction, and for anyone who enjoys anecdotes about a writer's life and adventures in writing.
Jan 25, 2011 Mackay rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
A friend gave me this book, and while it contained nothing new or eye-opening, Thom's stories of his own writing were interesting and fun.
Jay C
Apr 08, 2012 Jay C rated it really liked it
Very good book providing insight into the methods and practices of a superb "historical fiction" author.
Jun 09, 2014 Christy rated it really liked it
A helpful, entertaining resource for writing in the historical fiction genre.
Dec 19, 2012 Mitzi rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-books
A good read for anyone interested in writing historical fiction.
Nov 01, 2010 Daniel marked it as not-read
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Feb 05, 2016
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Feb 02, 2016
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James Alexander Thom (born 1933) is an American author, most famous for his works in the Western genre. Born in Gosport, Indiana, he graduated from Butler University and served in the United States Marine Corps. He is a former professor of journalism at Indiana University, and a contributor to the The Saturday Evening Post. His fifth wife, Dark Rain Thom was a member of the Shawnee United Remnant ...more
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