Mastering the Art of Crafting Engaging Historical Fiction – Top Tips and Tricks

How to write historical fiction

Historical fiction is a captivating genre that combines the best aspects of reading and researching. It allows writers to delve into the past and retell compelling stories from a unique viewpoint. Whether you’re a fan of medieval times, the 20th century, or WWII, historical fiction has something to offer for everyone.

One of the most important aspects of historical fiction is accuracy. While some writers may take creative liberties, it’s crucial to do thorough research to ensure that the historical backdrop and events are depicted as accurately as possible. This not only adds credibility to your story, but it also helps readers gain a deeper understanding of the time period and its impact on human history.

When writing historical fiction, it’s essential to create memorable and relatable characters. Whether you’re focusing on the struggles of women’s rights in the 19th century or the lives of orphans during the Civil War, bring your characters to life by giving them depth, flaws, and aspirations. By doing so, you’ll engage your readers and make them invested in the characters’ journeys.

To write a successful historical fiction novel, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can detract from the overall quality of your story. One of these mistakes is focusing too much on minor historical details. While accuracy is important, it’s also crucial to maintain a balance between historical context and the development of your characters and storyline.

Another common mistake is neglecting to consider the impact of historical events on ordinary people. Historical fiction offers a chance to shed light on how everyday individuals were affected by major historical occurrences. By exploring the human experience during significant historical events, you can create a more intimate and heartfelt narrative.

As you embark on your journey to write historical fiction, consider these tips to help bring history to life. Remember to research extensively, create compelling characters, and strike a balance between historical accuracy and storytelling. By doing so, you’ll create a captivating and authentic story that transports readers to the past.

7 tips on researching and writing historical fiction

7 tips on researching and writing historical fiction

Writing historical fiction can be a challenging task, but with the right research and storytelling techniques, you can bring the past to life. Here are 7 tips for historical fiction writers:

  1. Researching the times and history: Before writing, dig deep into the history of the time period you’re interested in. Understand the major events, societal norms, and cultural aspects to create an accurate backdrop for your story.
  2. Develop accurate characters: When creating characters, make sure they fit within the historical context. Their actions, thoughts, and dialogue should reflect the beliefs and values of the time.
  3. Focus on women’s stories: Don’t overlook the impact of women’s experiences in history. Explore the role of women in different time periods and give them a voice in your story.
  4. Avoid common mistakes: Be aware of common historical fiction mistakes, such as anachronisms or modern language sneaking into dialogue. Stay true to the time period you’re writing about.
  5. Retellings with a twist: Consider retelling historical events or stories from a different viewpoint. This can provide a fresh perspective and engage readers in a new way.
  6. Bring minor characters to the forefront: Often, minor characters have fascinating stories that are overlooked in history books. Give them a chance to shine and bring something new to the narrative.
  7. Immerse yourself in the era: To write authentically, immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the time period. Utilize primary sources and indulge in reading about the daily life of people from that era.

By following these 7 tips, you can create a captivating historical fiction novel that not only entertains but also educates readers about the past.

How to write historical fiction – is it for you

Writing historical fiction requires a deep appreciation for the past and a strong commitment to research. If you have a passion for history and enjoy immersing yourself in different time periods, then writing historical fiction may be the perfect genre for you. However, it’s important to recognize that historical fiction is not for everyone. It requires a certain level of dedication and attention to detail to accurately portray historical events and characters.

1. Researching the historical period is crucial. Before you begin writing, you need to have a solid understanding of the time period you are writing about. This includes researching the major events, customs, and social realities of the era. It’s important to get the details right, as historical fiction readers are often well-versed in the time periods they enjoy reading about.

2. Developing realistic characters is key. Historical fiction is not just about the events that occurred, but also the impact they had on the people living in that time period. Creating well-rounded characters with relatable thoughts and emotions is essential to draw readers into your story. Consider the viewpoints of both men and women, as well as the perspectives of those who may have been marginalized or overlooked in traditional historical accounts.

3. Creating an engaging storyline is crucial. While historical fiction is rooted in real events, it’s important to remember that you are still writing a work of fiction. This means that you have the creative freedom to bring in fictional elements, such as minor characters or subplots, to enhance the overall story. Just be sure that these additions do not overshadow the historical context of your novel.

4. Accuracy is important, but so is storytelling. While it’s crucial to strive for historical accuracy, it’s also important to remember that you are writing a story. Some details may need to be fictionalized or altered for the sake of the narrative. Just be sure to strike a balance between authenticity and an engaging plot that will keep readers invested in your story.

5. Learn from the best. Reading historical fiction novels from acclaimed writers can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your own writing. Pay attention to their styles, character development, plot structure, and how they blend history with fiction seamlessly. This can help you develop your own voice as a historical fiction writer.

6. Don’t limit yourself to popular topics. While certain time periods like medieval Europe or World War II may be trending, there are countless other fascinating periods of history to explore. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and choose a lesser-known era to write about. This can make your story even more unique and intriguing.

7. Edit, revise, and repeat. Writing historical fiction is a process that can take time and multiple revisions. Be prepared to make changes to your story and dive back into the research to ensure accuracy. The final product will be worth it if you stay committed to honing your craft.

In conclusion, writing historical fiction can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor for those who are passionate about history and story craft. It offers a chance to bring the past to life and provide readers with a glimpse into different time periods and the lives of people who lived then. If you’re up for the challenge, grab your pen and start exploring the rich tapestry of the past through the lens of fiction.

When it comes to writing historical fiction, there are a multitude of topics to choose from. Historical fiction allows writers to transport readers to different times and places, immersing them in the past and bringing history to life. In recent years, certain topics have emerged as particularly popular in the genre, capturing the imagination of both writers and readers alike.

One of the most trending topics in historical fiction is World War II (WWII). This monumental event of the 20th century has left a lasting impact on the world, and many writers have taken up the challenge of retelling its stories. From the perspective of soldiers on the front lines to the experiences of those left behind, WWII provides a rich backdrop for compelling and emotionally charged narratives.

Another popular topic in historical fiction is medieval times. This period in history is often associated with castles, knights, and damsels in distress. However, writers have been delving deeper, exploring the challenges faced by both the wealthy and the common people during this time. Whether it’s political intrigue or the struggle for survival, medieval fiction offers a chance to bring the past to life.

Women’s history is also at the forefront of many historical novels. Women’s viewpoints and experiences, which have often been overlooked in traditional historical accounts, are now being brought to the forefront. From the struggles of suffragettes to the lives of forgotten orphans, women’s impact on history is being celebrated and explored in these captivating stories.

Civil rights and the fight for equality also take center stage in historical fiction. Authors are shedding light on the struggles and triumphs of marginalized communities throughout history. Whether it’s the civil rights movement in the United States or the fight against apartheid in South Africa, these novels are a reminder of the ongoing quest for justice and equality.

In addition to these specific topics, there are also broader themes that continue to resonate with readers. The human impact of war, the power of resilience, and the importance of love and friendship are just a few of the universal themes that historical fiction often explores.

So, if you’re thinking about writing historical fiction, don’t be afraid to dive into these trending topics. Researching the period, creating accurate and engaging characters, and weaving a captivating storyline are all crucial. By doing so, you have a chance to not only entertain readers but also give them a unique opportunity to learn from the past and gain a new perspective on the present.


WWII, or World War II, is one of the most popular historical periods for writers of historical fiction. It is a whole century old, but its impact on people’s lives and the world is still felt today. If you’re writing a historical fiction novel set during WWII, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your story is accurate and engaging.

First and foremost, do your research. The historical events and timeline of WWII are well-documented, so it’s important to get the facts right. Make sure you know what occurred and when, and then bring those events to life through your characters and storyline.

While researching the major events of WWII is crucial, don’t forget about the minor details. Pay attention to the smaller aspects of everyday life during that time period, like fashion, technology, and cultural norms. These little details can make your story more authentic and immersive for your readers.

When it comes to writing historical fiction, it’s also important to remember that you’re not writing a history textbook. Your goal is to tell a story, so don’t be afraid to take some creative liberties with the historical facts. Just be sure to clearly distinguish between what is historically accurate and what is fictional.

One way to bring the WWII period to life is through the viewpoint of your characters. By focusing on individual experiences, you can give readers a personal and human perspective of the war. Consider including diverse perspectives, such as those of women, soldiers, orphans, or people living in occupied territories. This can provide a more comprehensive view of the war and its impact on different groups of people.

Lastly, consider the post-war and long-term impact of WWII in your story. This period was a time of rebuilding and reimagining the world, and exploring the aftermath can add depth to your narrative. How did the war change your characters and their lives? What effect did it have on society as a whole? These are important questions to consider as you craft your story.

Overall, WWII is a popular and rewarding topic for historical fiction writers. By researching the period, retelling the story through the eyes of your characters, and considering the long-term impact, you can create a compelling and accurate portrayal of this important time in history.

2 The 20th century as a whole

In historical fiction, the 20th century offers a wealth of rich material for writers to draw upon. This period witnessed significant global events and societal changes that would have a profound impact on people’s lives. From major wars like World War I and World War II, to the civil rights movement, women’s rights, and the rise of technology, there are numerous topics and themes to explore.

If you’re writing historical fiction set in the 20th century, it’s important to do your research to ensure accuracy. You would want to read books and articles about the time period, study photographs and primary sources, and immerse yourself in the culture and events of the era. By doing so, you can create a believable and authentic world for your characters to inhabit.

One popular trend in historical fiction set in the 20th century is retellings of well-known historical events from a different viewpoint. For example, you could write a story about World War II from the perspective of a group of orphans in Moscow, or a novel about a river in the American Midwest and its impact on the lives of the people who live along its banks.

Another approach is to focus on smaller, more personal stories that highlight the human impact of larger historical events. For instance, you could write about the lives of women during the 1920s and 1930s and their struggles for equality and independence, or the experiences of minority groups during times of social upheaval.

When writing historical fiction set in the 20th century, it’s important to remember that you are still writing fiction. While it’s crucial to be as accurate and respectful as possible, you also have the chance to bring your own unique perspective and imagination to the story. Don’t be afraid to take creative liberties and explore what could have or might have happened.

To write a good historical fiction novel set in the 20th century, consider the following tips:

  1. Research the time period extensively to ensure accuracy.
  2. Choose a specific event or time period within the 20th century to focus on.
  3. Create well-developed characters that reflect the attitudes and values of the time.
  4. Consider using multiple viewpoints to provide a broader picture of the era.
  5. Pay attention to historical details, such as clothing, customs, and language.
  6. Balance historical accuracy with a compelling and engaging storyline.
  7. Don’t be afraid to tackle difficult or uncomfortable topics.

In conclusion, the 20th century offers a wealth of material for historical fiction writers. Whether you’re retelling well-known events from a different perspective or exploring lesser-known aspects of history, the key is to research, be accurate, and create believable characters and storylines. With the right approach, you can transport readers back in time and give them a glimpse into the past.

3 Women’s impact

In historical fiction, the impact of women cannot be underestimated. Whether it’s in the medieval times, the 20th century, or during WWII, women have played a crucial role in shaping events and leaving their mark on history. Including strong female characters in your historical fiction can bring a fresh perspective and a captivating storyline.

When writing about women in history, it’s essential to do thorough research to ensure accuracy. Reading novels, researching specific historical periods, and studying the lives of real women can provide valuable insights. By retelling their stories, you can shed light on the experiences of those who were often overlooked or underestimated.

Women’s impact on history is not limited to major events or famous figures. Minor, everyday occurrences can also provide a unique viewpoint. By focusing on the lives of ordinary women, you can bring a human touch to your historical fiction and create relatable characters that resonate with readers.

One of the most popular topics in historical fiction is the Civil War era. From the orphaned girls of Gone with the Wind to the strong-willed Scarlett O’Hara, these novels have captivated readers with their strong female leads. However, there are many other periods and storylines to explore. Whether it’s the brave women fighting for their rights in the suffrage movement or the resilient women working in factories during World War II, there’s no shortage of inspiring tales.

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When writing historical fiction, it’s important to keep in mind the winner’s viewpoint. History is often written by those in power, and their perspective may not always align with the experiences of women. By offering a different narrative, you have the chance to challenge and expand upon the traditional story.

Don’t be afraid to deviate from the historical record if it serves your story. While accuracy is important, historical fiction allows for creative interpretation. As long as you stay true to the essence of the time period and the characters, you have the freedom to imagine and create.

In conclusion, women have had a significant impact on history, and their stories deserve to be told. By researching and incorporating their experiences into your writing, you can bring a fresh and engaging perspective to your historical fiction. So go forth, step back in time, and let the voices of these remarkable women be heard.

4 Orphans

4 Orphans

When it comes to writing historical fiction, there are many topics that writers can explore. One popular theme is the story of orphans. Whether it’s during the medieval times or the 20th century, the lives of orphaned children offer a unique viewpoint on history and can make for compelling novels.

What makes a good orphan story? First and foremost, accurate historical research is crucial. Writers need to understand the period they are writing about and bring it to life in their storylines. Every detail – from the clothes people wore to the impact of major events such as the Civil War or WWII – should be thoroughly researched and woven into the narrative.

One of the most important aspects of any historical fiction novel, especially those featuring orphans, is the development of strong and believable characters. Whether you’re writing about a brave young girl living through a war or a scrappy young boy trying to survive on the streets of 19th century Moscow, the characters need to feel real and relatable. Readers should be able to empathize with the challenges and struggles the orphans face.

It’s also important to remember that the story should focus on more than just the orphan’s status. While exploring the unique challenges that orphans faced during different historical periods is important, it’s also crucial to provide a well-rounded picture of the time period as a whole. This means including details about the lives of women, minorities, and other marginalized groups, as well as the broader historical events that occurred.

When crafting a story about orphans, writers must also be mindful of the tone they want to set. While historical fiction can sometimes be dark and gritty, it’s important to strike a balance between capturing the harsh realities of the past and providing an engaging and enjoyable read. Depending on the age range and intended audience, the story could range from heartwarming to heart-wrenching.

In conclusion, writing historical fiction focused on orphans can be a rewarding and impactful endeavor. By researching and accurately depicting the historical period, creating strong and relatable characters, and exploring the unique challenges that orphans faced, writers have the chance to bring history to life in a way that is both educational and entertaining.

5 Retellings from the viewpoint of minor characters

Historical fiction has the power to bring the past to life, and one way to enhance the storytelling is by retelling events from the viewpoint of minor characters. These characters may have played a small role in history, but their perspectives can provide a fresh and unique lens through which to view familiar events. Here are 5 retellings that give voice to those often overlooked:

  1. “From Moscow, With Love” – This novel takes place during the Cold War and follows the story of Pierre, a Soviet orphan. Through Pierre’s eyes, readers get a glimpse into the everyday life of ordinary people living in Moscow during this tense period in history.

  2. “The Forgotten Heroines” – Set during the Civil War, this book focuses on a group of women who volunteered as nurses on the front lines. Often overshadowed by the male soldiers, these brave women’s stories shed light on their contributions and the challenges they faced.

  3. “A Soldier’s Tale” – This WWII retelling shifts the perspective to a minor character who served alongside the main protagonist. Readers get a closer look at the impact of war on the everyday lives of soldiers and the emotional toll it takes.

  4. “The Secrets of the Castle” – Set in medieval times, this novel explores the lives of the castle’s servants and what goes on behind closed doors. Through their eyes, readers get a glimpse of the power struggles, secrets, and intrigues that took place in those imposing fortresses.

  5. “The Accidental Witness” – This historical fiction delves into the realm of winners and losers. It tells the story of a minor character who inadvertently becomes a witness to a major event, forcing them to confront their own thoughts, opinions, and biases. Through their journey, readers are reminded that history is not always black and white.

By choosing to write from the viewpoint of minor characters, writers have the chance to highlight the human side of history. It also allows them to explore topics and storylines that may not be as well-known or popular. When done with accurate research and attention to detail, these retellings can have a profound impact on readers’ understanding of the past.

Here are a few tips for writing retellings from the viewpoint of minor characters:

  • Do thorough research on the time period and events you are writing about.
  • Bring these minor characters to life by giving them unique personalities, thoughts, and opinions.
  • Don’t be afraid to take creative liberties, but ensure that any changes you make to history are clearly stated as fictional.
  • Consider the impact your characters’ actions and decisions may have on the overall story.
  • Remember that historical fiction is not just about the major events and famous figures; it is also about everyday people and their experiences.

So, if you’re looking for a new perspective on a familiar historical event, consider writing a retelling from the viewpoint of a minor character. You may uncover a whole new world of stories waiting to be told.


In my opinion, historical fiction is one of the most popular genres in literature. It allows writers to bring history to life and retell the events that occurred in the past. Whether it’s a story set in medieval times or during the civil war, historical fiction has the chance to transport readers to another period and offer a unique viewpoint.

When it comes to writing historical fiction, accuracy is key. Researching the time and place is crucial to create an authentic setting for the story. It’s important to delve deep into the historical facts and get the details right. This can include everything from the clothes people wore to the impact of major events.

One of the things I enjoy most about historical fiction is the opportunity to learn about lesser-known historical events or the experiences of marginalized groups. There are countless novels that focus on women’s history or tell the stories of orphans, for example. This allows us to explore a whole new perspective on the events of the past.

As a reader, I appreciate when historical fiction authors take the time to create well-developed characters. It’s important to remember that the people of the past were human too. By providing them with complex thoughts, feelings, and motivations, the story becomes more relatable and engaging.

When writing a historical fiction novel, it’s also essential to consider the impact of the time period on the characters. Whether it’s the constraints of society or the hardships of war, these external factors can greatly shape a character’s actions and decisions.

Here are some tips for writing historical fiction:

  1. Do thorough research on the time period and setting.
  2. Create well-rounded and believable characters.
  3. Consider the impact of historical events on the storyline.
  4. Avoid anachronisms and ensure your language matches the time period.
  5. Bring the setting to life with vivid descriptions.
  6. Balance historical accuracy with engaging storytelling.
  7. Consider the different viewpoints and experiences of various characters.

In conclusion, historical fiction is a genre that offers a captivating way to explore the past. By using accurate research and well-crafted storytelling, writers can transport readers to different time periods and shed light on important historical moments. Whether it’s the glitz of 1920s New York or the hardships of WWII Moscow, historical fiction has the power to educate, entertain, and inspire.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to writing historical fiction, there are several important factors to keep in mind. First and foremost, accurate research is crucial. It’s essential to immerse yourself in the time period you are writing about, whether it’s the Civil War, medieval times, or even 20th century warfare like WWII. Understand the events, people, and culture of the time, and strive to portray them in a realistic and authentic manner.

Secondly, viewpoint is key. History is often written from a specific perspective, so as a writer, it’s important to consider whose point of view you are presenting. This can greatly impact the story and the way events are portrayed. It’s always a good idea to research different viewpoints and perspectives to ensure a well-rounded and nuanced portrayal of historical events.

Next, characters are the heart of any story, and historical fiction is no exception. Creating well-developed and relatable characters is essential to engaging readers and bringing the time period to life. Whether you’re retelling the stories of real people or inventing fictional characters, ensure that they are believable and true to the time period.

Furthermore, storyline is crucial in engaging readers. Historical fiction offers the opportunity to explore various themes and topics, so choose your storyline wisely. One popular approach is to focus on the experiences of women throughout history. Whether it’s the suffrage movement or the struggles of women in a specific time period, there’s a wealth of material to draw from. Additionally, exploring the lives of minorities or the lower class can shed light on less well-known aspects of history.

Remember that historical fiction is still fiction. While it’s essential to strive for accuracy, there is also room for creativity and imagination. Don’t be afraid to take some liberties with the facts in order to create an engaging and compelling story.

Lastly, learn from the mistakes of others. Reading and studying popular historical fiction novels can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to the mistakes that other writers have made and take note of what you would have done differently. Use these experiences and your own opinion to shape your writing and avoid common pitfalls.

So, whether you’re writing about river pirates in 19th century Louisiana or the orphans of Moscow during the French Revolution, remember to bring history to life through accurate research, compelling characters, and engaging storylines. Historical fiction allows us to explore the past through a human lens, and by avoiding these 7 common mistakes, you can ensure that your work resonates with readers and stands the test of time. Happy writing!


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