Finding Tips on Writing Historical Fiction

I’m so glad that Vicky Alvear Shecter (author of CLEOPATRA’S MOON) guest posted over at Cynsations! Because when she spoke recently about writing historical fiction at our local schmooze, I was so busy doing the schmoozing that I forgot to do the note-taking.

Vicky’ book, as you can guess, is based on ancient Egyptian times, during the reign of Cleopatra and beyond as we follow the Queen’s daughter (Yes, Cleopatra had a daughter. Her name was Selene.) So as you can also probably guess, Vicky had a handful of researching to do.

Of course, she loves ancient history. She’s really kind of geeky about the whole subject, in an infectious way. And though she doesn’t mention this as one of her tips, I think you should keep “loving your subject matter” in mind. Because you’re going to be cozying up with your subject for quite a long time. Not to mention that your readers will sense your passion in your writing.

I’m always impressed with authors who take on historical fiction. Not only do they have to come up with a great story, and a story that’s believable for the time period, but they also have to be on the lookout for people who’ll read their book and say things like, “Pardon me. But you referred to this man’s cape as magenta. Magenta was not even invented for another 37 years. Ha!”

Attention to detail is very important with historical fiction. But don’t take my word for it. Go read Vicky’s post–and the comments, too. (Um, you may want to take a few notes.)

Like History? A Keeper of a Contest for You!

I’ve always been kind of a history nut. Like if I’m walking along a path around Native American mounds, I might say, “Wow. Four hundred years ago (give or take a decade), a Cherokee woman might have walked this exact same path.”

When my kids were little, and accompanied me on these adventures back in time, they laughed about my “Wow” remarks. That’s okay. I’ve always been seriously awed by the people who’ve walked before us. I still am. So I just might give this latest Children’s Writer Contest a go.

It’s historical fiction for age 13, up to 1500 words, and due by October 31st. And you must have a strong bibliography of resources. That’s the sticking point for me. I don’t have any historical research hanging around.

But if you’ve written an historical novel, and have tons of interesting tidbits in your research file, you should jump on this contest! You could win FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! And if you already subscribe to Children’s Writer, you don’t have to pay the entry fee. But even if you have to pay the $15, you’ll get an 8 month subscription with it.

Um, anyone got some great historical research they’re not using? I’ll trade you for a scathingly brilliant story idea.