works of historical fiction
The art of weaving fiction into commonly accepted knowledge is challenging—but it can be done. Do you have an idea that could lead a reader to learning—and actually comprehending—some real history that you’ve experienced?
I’ve discussed my evolution as an editor of historical works on other pages; in case you missed the progression, you can catch up here:
- my introduction to history and beginning to edit historical works
- my discovery of social history and beginning to edit works of personal history and family history
The role of historical fiction in teaching history
Growing up, many of my favorite books were works of historical fiction. As a freelance editor, some of my favorite editorial projects have, likewise, been works of historical fiction. Given my feelings toward social history, I guess those feelings could be explained as a natural progression.
In historical fiction, the importance of conveying the facts of history is just as important as setting the stage:
- why did the recent past help lead to an event?
- how did attitudes of people at the time make an event a logical “next step”?
- what was happening in everyday life that allowed events to occur the way they did at the time they did?
The most difficult part of writing historical fiction is that it cannot be totally fictional. Our “common knowledge” tells us that certain events have happened, and commonly accepted details about those events must be provided as accurately as possible. The art of weaving fiction into knowledge is challenging—but it can be revealing, as well, and can lead to a reader actually learning more real history than he or she ever expected.
That’s where the knowledge of a history editor can help you.
Do you have a piece of history you think would enlighten and inspire an audience if you could only twist it just right with a fictional spin? Let’s find out . . .
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