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Writing Historical Fiction

This section contains articles, advice and tips on writing and publishing historical fiction.

A Criminal Past – Writing Historical Crime Fiction

The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland

At the Harrogate Crime Festival, novelists discussed how rapid developments in forensics and crime-fighting were influencing modern crime fiction. With DNA tests carried out at the crime scene and the ability to track suspects through their mobile phones, most modern murders could be solved before …

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Becoming Your Character

Simon Turney

We all read books and watch movies – really good books and movies, I might add – where we feel like we have lived through a great event with the characters in it. But often, there is a slight withdrawal from reality that we take for granted. I want to talk to you about closing that reality gap …

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Historical Fiction - How, What, When & Why?

Triskele Books

As an author collective with a brand catchphrase of ‘Time & Place’, the writers behind Triskele Books like to think that, collectively, we know a thing or two about historical fiction. In this article, we would like to pass on some of our own tips and advice, plus some thoughts from a …

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Historical Fiction Isn’t History, It’s Better

One Day In Oradour

In these days of tough competition, getting out there, being visible and promoting your books is an essential part of a writer’s job. More and more often, we leave behind the relative security of our desks and head out into the big, scary world of literary festivals, library talks, school visits …

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Language and Idiom in Historical Fiction

Simon Turney

I’m sure that since you’re planning to write a work of historical fiction, you’ll have read plenty too. If not, then that’s clearly your starting point. If so, then you will have noticed that every author finds a distinct ‘voice’ for their work and if they don’t then they are too …

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The Importance of Research

Jonathan Eyers

In some ways, writing historical fiction has a lot of similarities with writing science fiction and fantasy. You get to explore a completely different (you might even describe it as alien) world that looks and works quite unlike our own. The people there look differently, behave differently, even …

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Translating History

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

History is a foreign country. Digressing a bit, so is Japan. Haruki Murakami is one of the best-selling writers worldwide — translated. Nobody expects readers who love IQ84 to go off and learn Japanese to read it in the original. On the other hand, lots of people, readers and writers alike, do …

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Unknown History: Bridging the Gaps with Imagination

Simon Turney

Writing in a real historical setting is problematic at best, and some settings are more troublesome than others. Even the most documented historical era contains the unknown to some extent. Some are veritable caverns of uncertainty, with only a few clear facts to light the way. There are three …

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Using Myth & Legend in Historical Fiction

The Wolf and The Raven

Author Steven A. McKay explores how you can weave myth and magic into your historical fiction, whilst maintaining authenticity, something that is so important to the historical fiction writer. 


Historical fiction is a rapidly growing genre. From books like Bernard Cornwell's

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Why A Sense Of Place Matters In Historical Fiction

Is your setting alive or just background? 

Setting is an anchor. It has the ability to weight a story in any given time, or place. Daphne Du Maurier saw setting (her beloved Cornwall) as another character, intrinsic to plot. And, if you take Du Maurier at her word, that means that for every …

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Writing In The Past

Anyone writing a novel set in the past faces a number of related challenges. One is the siren call of hindsight: the temptation to litter the story with ominous intimations of what we know was about to happen next, but the characters didn't. Another – generally less conscious, and so more …

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Writing Rules & Historical Fiction

The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements

Aspiring writers are bombarded with advice about what makes good writing. A Google search for ‘writing rules’ returns a host of forthright (and sometimes contradictory) opinions from the likes of Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, George Orwell and Neil Gaiman, and that’s just on the first page. …

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Writing Women in Historical Fiction

The Chosen Queen

Women are something of a rarity in history – shy, domestic creatures who peep out between the cracks of their husband’s ‘greater’ deeds. If we believe the historians of their day, they were there to look pretty and to provide care and admiration and, of course, heirs. This, however, cannot …

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