Writing historical fiction can be a tricky feat; combining your imagination with the authenticity of the time period in order to keep the story believable and engaging. It’s doable though, with the right balance of research and creativity. There’s lots of ways to give your book a positive boost – and we advise you on how best to walk the metaphorical tight-rope right here!
Ask for help from experts
Unfortunately for you, the internet isn’t the best resource for historical research, as it’s full of flawed information, particularly on periods of time that the author or webmaster won’t have been present for. Whilst of course it’s impossible to get everything spot on, you need to stay as authentic as possible. The best way to research is to ask for help from experts; be that professors, historians or those who have already written about a similar time or topic. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – most of those who are passionate about an era will embrace the opportunity for it to continue to be promoted through more writing.
Stay true to reality when referring to real people
You’ll never know exactly what was said, done or thought by any individual on the planet other than yourself, so when writing about real people it’s natural that you’ll apply some artistic license. When you do reference real characters through your story you need to remain as reasonably responsible toward their persona as possible. Researching and referencing the who, what, when, where and why of a character can help you draw upon their voice and attitudes easily and reflect this through into your coverage of them.
Don’t judge different cultures and attitudes
There are many, many aspects of history that sit uncomfortably with today’s societal values. It can be difficult, therefore, to find some characters within your story likeable: and even more difficult to not judge them for it. It’s imperative that you remain neutral in your tone toward cultures and attitudes of the time you’re writing about, even if they don’t fit with your personal values and beliefs. If it was ‘how things were done then’, let it be so. It’s not your place as author to pass judgment.
Use a ‘historical note’ disclaimer at the end
There will always be someone who reads your book and finds it their place to draw attention to or question historical details written within it. Human nature dictates even the best of writers won’t manage perfect accuracy, but if you’re worried about the details or have used more poetic freedom than you expected, add in a short disclaimer at the back. Being honest about your ability and estimations is always the best policy – and you should never allow a small detail or two to get in the way of a damn good story!