Students have to write fiction at some point in their academic life, and this involves historical fiction. However, writing historical fiction proves complex than what most people think. It requires extensive research to develop an authentic and immersive historical world. So how can you go about it?
If you have to write a historical fiction piece and you cannot seem to comprehend how to go about it, consider the following tips.
- Develop a plan. Planning your historical research well before you start writing can prove useful in avoiding situations where you can miss crucial information. So how can you go about it? Begin by determining all the necessary details you have to know. Thereafter, research all the vital information sources that will assist you to accomplish it. So, list them according to focus and type to have an easy time.
- Make notes and write down information sources. No one can remember everything, and this applies to the content you read. So note down crucial information from the various sources you read. It will all come in handy when you start piecing together your write-up.
- It becomes crucial to identify genuine and the correctness of historical sources. Secondary or primary sources can prove wrong or contain errors, and therefore, you have to cross-reference all the things you read, especially on things like key figures and crucial dates. Such mistakes can compromise the quality of your write-up.
- Look out for provenance. Errors sometimes arise from prejudice that comes from the writer’s agenda. In as much as all sources prove unbiased, every historical writing has to get influenced by the perspective of the writer and the prevailing trends of the time. However, look out for the misleading type of information sources as some try to damage reputation while others try to absolve specific people from blame.
- Where sources disagree. Sources can sometimes appear credible but dispute each other. It arises from the legitimate but different interpretations of events, and in such cases, it can prove safe to side with the more convincing argument. Additionally, you can also come up with your interpretation based on the available interpretations as long as it proves plausible with sufficient information to back it. Sometimes, sources can also differ because one source bases an argument on a wrong premise. Here, you should go with a source that has got most things right.
- Absence of information sources. It can happen when you start your argument from far back though it should not become a deterrent. Remember, historians have to fill the existing gaps using their imagination, so spin it on its head and get sources. In instances where you cannot know a fact, then feel confident in your interpretation as long as it comes across as plausible. However, try and explain the existing gaps in your argument and the mechanism used to fill them.
- Create a balance and don’t get biased towards either secondary or primary sources. In most instances, primary sources can prove juicy and help you in creating an authentic voice as you write. Secondary sources also prove vital in giving you an overview of events, as historians assess and view things with a wider lens owing to the advantage of hindsight. So mix both sources whenever you can in a balanced way.
- Search for your era’s essence and avoid looking at the facts alone. It can prove useful to investigate and understand the historical period to get the delivery of conversations and facts right in your historical piece. Getting it wrong will lose readers interested in the historical period.
- Understanding when to begin writing. Create a list that you can check off while writing to get a sense of the volume of work you accomplish and if it proves sufficient.
- Continue researching as you write. Most people stop researching immediately they begin writing their historical piece. However, you have to continue to augment your comprehension of the era and update your knowledge-base.
To write a historical piece requires more than you can anticipate. However, by considering the above essential guidelines in researching for historical fiction write-ups, you stand a better chance of coming up with brilliant and valuable content for your piece.