Sharpening the Blade: Borrowing Elements from Mysteries to Craft Compelling Historical Fiction 

With their life-and-death stakes, mysteries have had a profound narrative power since Wilkie Collins wrote The Moonstone in 1868. In a mystery, the reader often strongly identifies with the protagonist, an amateur sleuth or professional detective encountering clues and experiences simultaneously with the reader. As a result, both intellectually and emotionally, the protagonist and reader are, quite literally, on the … Continue reading Sharpening the Blade: Borrowing Elements from Mysteries to Craft Compelling Historical Fiction 

Creating Characters Who Belong Where You Put Them

Women through history have been more passive than active. True, or false? That’s certainly the conventional wisdom that allowed men to scrub most of our female ancestors from the history books. Yet writers of historical fiction know better. In truth, women have done far more of the heavy lifting in every era than they’re given credit for. They served as wartime spies and saboteurs. They ruled empires. They explored new territories as pioneers. They changed the course of civilization, even as they risked their lives to give birth and protect their children--often from the men who fathered them. The challenge for historical novelists is to honor this truth about women’s agency while simultaneously acknowledging the conventions of each era--including those patriarchal structures and societal mores that have too often kept women from achieving all that they might have.

Fact in Fiction: Bringing Long-Lost Worlds to Life

Almost every day on the Historical Novel Society Facebook page, someone asks, “How do you know when you’ve researched enough?” “What details should I include?” Or finally, “When is it allowable to stray from the facts?” We’re excited to answer these questions in our one-hour panel discussion, getting into the nitty gritty of what we do and how we do it: how we find our facts, how much we rely on the Internet, whether we travel to the places we write about, and how we determine which facts will remain on the cutting floor.