How To Write Fiction Novel – In this guide, we explain how to write historical fiction in 10 steps, breaking the process down into bite-sized chunks to help you get started.
Writing historical fiction can be difficult, even for a seasoned writer. You have to deal with the usual stuff – design, plot, structure, character development, etc. – but on top of that you have to deal with in-depth research and grasp the most important aspects of historical accuracy and authenticity.
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How To Write Fiction Novel
For a newbie, this can seem a bit daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. If you follow these 10 steps, you’ll be ready to go in no time.
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One of the great things about writing historical fiction is that history is a wonderful source of inspiration. There are several different approaches to using it:
1) Tell a fictional (but accurate) version of a true story. This includes biographical historical fiction, where the focus is on the story of someone’s life. The goal here is to explore the actual events and characters of history with careful attention to accuracy. Of course, all or most of the dialogue will be fictional, and you may not know all the details of what happened, but the point is to create a story that reflects what really happened as closely as possible.
2) Tell a true story with some creative license. That doesn’t mean you can openly invent and falsify key elements of history, but it does mean you can exploit gaps in the historical record, subtext, and hearsay in ways a historian wouldn’t. Just be honest with your reader in your historical note.
3) Use real events as background for your mostly fictional stories. The goal here is a bit different. Yes, you’re basing the background of your story on what actually happened, but your base story is almost entirely fictional and usually focuses on fictional characters rather than depicting real-life figures (although that doesn’t mean the story). not possible
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To his fictional story. If you want to draw details of real events and people, but feel that your creative juices are taking the story too far from real history, consider using the story as inspiration for your story instead of the story itself. This could include, for example, a fictional character based on a real person, or you could take inspiration from an interesting historical episode and reproduce elements of it in your story. Just be careful not to base your characters on people who are still alive (for obvious legal reasons).
As the concept begins to form in your mind, it is best to start learning more about your period and the key events and figures that may appear in its history.
The first step should be to figure out what you need to know and make a list of resources that can help you get that knowledge. Our 50+ best online research resources for historical fiction writers are a good place to start. Be sure to download a copy below.
Strive to find the right balance between primary sources (i.e. first-hand accounts of the period in question) and secondary sources (i.e. sources written after, describing and analyzing the period). Primary sources can give you an authentic flavor of your chosen era and help you reproduce authentic voices in your story, not to mention their value in providing a deeper understanding of historical events. But secondary sources are also essential to see a broader perspective on these events.
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The further back your story goes, the harder it will be to find any relevant sources at all. But remember, you are not a historian. Part of your craft is to fill in the gaps with your imagination. If something can’t be known, then as long as your interpretation seems plausible, it’s perfectly legitimate to go your own way. Just make sure you explain the gaps and how you filled them in your history note.
When doing research, make sure you take lots of notes, including where vital information comes from. Sources sometimes contain errors, so refer to them as often as possible. And check the provenance too. The likely purpose of the source affects how we should read it, so we should pay close attention to who wrote it and why.
This scenario will be familiar to many historical fiction writers! Research never really stops, even after you start writing. It’s easy to feel frustrated at times when you spend more time researching than writing, but remember that it’s all part of the same process.
When people start thinking about how to write historical fiction, this is one of the areas that often comes to mind first—and for good reason. Readers of historical fiction will primarily buy your book for two reasons: 1) because they’re looking for an engaging, turn-the-page story, and 2) because they want to immerse themselves in a historical world that feels true to the era they’re in. in. written about.
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Your readers expect you to accurately present the details of everyday life as well as the broader political background of your era. Readers will also have expectations regarding the handling of historical events and real figures in history. Most people will tolerate some creative license as long as you justify it in your historical record, but if you fill your novel with a lot of blatant falsehoods about easily verifiable facts, you’re likely to be in trouble.
You also need to consider how people spoke and the general social conventions of your time period. There is little worse in a historical novel than a character who speaks in modern slang or acts as if they are in the 21st century.
For detailed guidance on how to achieve accuracy and credibility in these areas and more, download our complete guide to accuracy and credibility in historical fiction.
Structure is the foundation of fiction writing, so choose yours carefully. Here are four main structural decisions you need to make:
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1) What plot structure do you want to use? One of the most popular options is the three-act structure, which divides the novel into three acts corresponding to the beginning (about the first 25 percent), the middle (about 50 percent), and the end (the last 25 percent). cent).
2) What narrative structure do you want to use? This can be broken down further. Do you want just one chronological timeline in your novel, or multiple timelines set in different time periods? Do you want a single point of view story or do you want to make it a multi point of view story?
3) Which viewpoint do you want to use? The main options are first person (I said), third person limited (he said), and third person omniscient (still he said, but with an omniscient narrator).
4) What tense do you want to use? In historical fiction, there are arguments for and against both the past and the present. The past seems more “historical” but also heightens the sense of disconnection between the reader and the story. The present tense feels more “in the moment” but can pop up with a story that is so clearly set in the past. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer; both are equally valid approaches with their own risks and benefits.
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1) Narrative question. A narrative question is just that – a question in your story. This is the central question the reader wants to know the answer to when they turn the page. Your resolution also answers this question. The story question is important because it allows you to focus the plot on something clear and tangible and build the story around it. It could be something external to the characters, it could be something related to the relationships between the characters, or it could be something related to the inner life of a character.
2) Conflict. Conflict is usually the main driving force of a plot. It refers to the clash between the protagonists and the forces and obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals. Conflict is essential because it casts doubt on the outcome of the story, creating a sense of danger.
3) The stakes are the consequences of your story’s success or failure. That’s why it matters whether the protagonist achieves his goal or not. Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen if your protagonist fails, and what’s the best that could happen if he succeeds. The difference between the best and worst results is what counts for the story. It gives the stakes to your story.
Rich, complex characters are essential to engaging your reader. Here are three key factors to consider when creating them:
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1) Goals and motives. Characters must have goals that drive them forward and motivations to achieve those goals. Without goals, characters seem indifferent or directionless, and without motives, their goals seem shallow and contrived. Both are always needed
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