Would You Write Historical Fiction?

I’d like to discuss an important topic, and that is writing a historical manuscript.  It is a bit harder to do than regular non-fiction or fiction.  It has more to do with researching than a typical fiction book and has to follow the same historical backgrounds as a non-fiction.

What scares people about writing history- in fiction- is how important the details are.  If you make one incorrect point, unless they know this is a fiction book, the reviews will be generally negative.  It can also be confusing and overwhelming.

Your readers are not from just one market but from both.  To have success with writing means you are working a fine balance, and you can’t make a mistake unless you have said in some form this is the author being liberal with history.  I am not this brave when it comes to writing historical fiction.

I enjoyed the challenge and I love to learn about history- which is why I wrote in the non-fiction side of writing.  This book challenged me more than I thought it would- because unlike a historical fiction book.  You cannot count on Wikipedia as your first and final source, but it does provide a reasonable beginning.  I had to do look through books.  I had to maintain the character of the person.  It is not fiction.

In the end, I feel the effort is worth it.  I know that as I continue my research for new books, I will learn even more, and I feel confident in writing on this topic.  It was a stretch to write history because I knew that I might not like the answers to my questions.

In a way, I found it to be like editing – it is all about verifying the details.  And focusing on details makes us all better writers.

Again, the drawback is in the details, I had to be sure of them, and unlike many fiction writers, as much as I could have explored feelings which I could assume were or weren’t there, I could not.  A Fiction writer especially one who writes history, has the opportunity I didn’t.  They can explore the cast of characters in ways I could not.

Would you write a historical manuscript?

The answer most often is, I don’t think so, but you can.  If you consider writing a family history, you are going to write a non-fiction book.  If you write either historical or contemporary fiction, you’ll still need to be sure of your details.  I think that realization can slowly creep up to you and shout “boo!”

I also think that writing a draft or researching with history and biography in mind will make you a better writer, I think more about details now when I write and work at my writing.  In other words I am grateful for the writing, and learning from others how to improve my writing.  The challenge is to be true to the main story in fiction while knowing the background details in the end.  Push your limits and build yourself as a writer.


  • Marlena Cassidy

    There's a lot of work that goes into writing anything, but especially a historical non-fiction. Everything needs to be perfect and correct or, like you said, your audience will quickly abandon your book.