AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

7 views
Writing Historical Fiction

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kari (new)

Kari (karibovee) | 98 comments Mod
"I’ve always been at my most creative when I have to work within structural confines, whether it be an extensive outline for a novel, or creating a character based upon someone in history. Within those structural walls, my mind is free to roam, without getting lost in all the noise outside.

As writers of historical fiction, we will never really know what was going on in the minds or emotions of the people in history we want to portray. We see them through their actions, what they’ve written, or what they’ve reportedly said, but we don’t always know their deepest fears, or what they secretly wanted in life. We don’t always know their unrequited loves, their biggest regrets, or their pet peeves—unless it was written down. And even that can be up for interpretation because we can never really be inside the mind of anyone, much less a historical figure. Even non-fiction historical accounts can be skewed because every writer has a personal bias. They put their perceptions and interpretations onto the page. It’s human nature.

But, interpretation can open the doors to a whole new kind of creativity."

This is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the She Writes Blog about building a character on top of a historical figure. You can find the entire article here: https://bit.ly/2N65Duh

Some of my favorite fiction novels center around real-life historical characters. I find myself wondering if what I am reading really happened to that person or not, and how much license the author took with that figure and the events the novel portrays. It usually leads to some investigation of my own, and I find myself immersed in the desire to learn all I can about that historical figure. I loved all the Phillipa Gregory, Margaret George, and Alison Weir novels about the Tudors to name a few. Although I cannot claim to be the accomplished historians they are, their stories had a huge impact on the kind of stories I wanted to write.

Since we are all readers of historical fiction, I'd like to hear your thoughts on reading about real-life historical figures in fiction and what novels inspired you and why.


message 2: by Linda (new)

Linda Ulleseit (lindaulleseit) | 50 comments "As writers of historical fiction, we will never really know what was going on in the minds or emotions of the people in history we want to portray. We see them through their actions, what they’ve written, or what they’ve reportedly said, but we don’t always know their deepest fears, or what they secretly wanted in life."

This is SO true! And it's why I like to read/write historical fiction instead of history. The first novel I remember loving is Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. To this day, I recommend historical novels to my students to add depth to their study of history.


message 3: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Kari wrote: ""I’ve always been at my most creative when I have to work within structural confines, whether it be an extensive outline for a novel, or creating a character based upon someone in history. Within t..."
Yes, I agree too. Historical fiction gives us an opportunity to use our imaginations as writers or readers about the emotions, motivations and thoughts of historical figures. For me, it makes history more engaging and personal.


back to top