Why write historical fiction?
Hi everyone, this week on the blog I’m talking about why so many writers and readers love historical fiction. What makes it such a popular genre? Why do writers love writing it?
Last Friday, it was my turn to host #FriSalon, a weekly chat where we discuss writing topics. (I really recommend it, both for the great chats and the wonderful community. Fridays 4pm GMT/11am ET). On Friday we chatted through this very question – so I thought I’d do a blog post about it!
Why do we love this genre?
The answers to to this question on #FriSalon were fairly similar. We love historical fiction because it captivates our imagination, connecting us to people and places long gone. It gives us a glimpse into events that have changed our past and helped shape our present. In some ways, it’s time travel, bringing to life a world that is the same as ours, yet different. It’s also fun to escape to another time.
Do you have a favourite historical era that you love to write, or read about? I’m a bit biased in loving Dark Ages England, where my historical fiction series is based (specifically post Roman Celtic, 590-600s AD). If I were to ever write in another era, my Welsh roots are calling to me, so maybe I’d do something in medieval Wales.
Historical fiction or historical novel?
We also discussed on the #FriSalon chat the classic question- should the emphasis more be on the ‘historical’, or the ‘fiction’? Again the answers were similar. For a good historical fiction novel, the story is first and foremost – about the characters that are created and what happens to them.
However, in order to be an immersive story, there is also the need to be authentic. Careful research is needed, whether it’s tying in your story to big dramatic events, or the more ordinary details of what people ate, or wore during that time period. Of course, this should not be ‘info-dumped’ so that the narrative is lost. Rather, it should be drip-fed so that it helps bring each scene to life.
What do you think? Do you prefer novels to have more of an emphasis on the story, or more of a commentary on the historical period?
Thanks for reading!
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Till next time,