What does the craft of writing a historical novel involve?
- Creating an absorbing story set in the past, yet satisfying for modern readers. I think you have to constantly balance those two seemingly opposing requirements. Sometimes it’s necessary to make characters more “modern” than they really are, to have them make decisions based on currently logic rather than steeping them in religion and superstition. Otherwise readers will have a hard job understanding their motives.
- Bringing the era to life. You have to set readers in the period and place of the novel and then move them forward, so that they feel as if they are really there.
P.S. I will reply to your comments, but it might take a couple of days.
5 replies on “2015 A to Z Challenge: C is for CRAFT”
It’s hard to avoid anachronism when using modern-day values! But that is indeed the CRAFT of historical fiction. Great post!
I sometimes use modern slang to approximate what slang probably sounded like in ancient times – not everyone spoke perfect, eloquent literary language, after all. HBO’s Rome did that really well 🙂
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(This should have been on the next post – D.) That’s interesting. I need to read more historical fiction to get an idea of how it’s done.
Quite right. You have to evoke the spirit of the age in which your story is set, but in a way that modern readers will understand. It would be impossible to write a novel in Chaucerian English, for example. But you can still bring the era of Chaucer alive while using modern language.