How to Write Historical Fiction

historical fictionOne of the most popular genres in fiction is historical fiction. Historical fiction novels a perfect blend of what has happened and what could have happened. It’s a great way to meld factual research with personal creativity. Each author gets their ideas for writing historical fiction in their own way: whether that’s inspiration from a class in school, another novel, or stories from their hometown. In order to write good historical fiction, you need to do research, stick as closely to facts as you can, and ensure a good self-publisher.

How to research for a historical novel

Writing historical fiction books takes more research, obviously, than a romance novel or a collection of poems. Though they are fiction, these books require a certain amount of fact. Even if it’s historical fantasy, the specifics of the time should be real: what the people wore, how they spoke, what they ate, etc. For example, even if you’re writing a novel about vampires in the eighteenth century, you can’t have the townspeople driving cars, right?

Research is critical, and it’s easier now that the Internet exists. Make sure you’re using reliable sources. The more information you can gather on the time period you’ve chosen, the more authentic your story will be. The best resources for historical fiction writers are archives, local or national, old photographs, museums, and the Internet. Gather as much information as you can to set the stage for your novel. Only then can the writing begin.

Writing historical fiction

This part, of course, will vary from person to person. Each author has their own method and way to complete a novel. While writing historical fiction, however, one of the main things the author needs to keep in mind is to stick to accuracy. Even in fantastical historical fiction novels there is accuracy to be maintained. Stick to your research.

If you find yourself struggling with writing The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom is a good resource to use. It’ll teach you how to find and use archives and weave the facts you find in them throughout the novel. These moves should be subtle; you don’t want to lay out all of your time-period knowledge as if you have something to prove. Rather, they should work naturally within the story. The time period you’ve selected is like any other setting: it’s a jumping off point, a backdrop, and a character in itself.

Where should you publish?

The best publishers for historical fiction are the ones who are going to treat your novel with the utmost respect. After all the dedicated research, studying, and writing you’ve done, you want to ensure your novel is published and professional. Self-publishing historical fiction is the best way to go. The freedom you experienced while researching your chosen topic and writing about it will continue throughout the entire publication process. The work you’ve done will be beautifully realized in a professional product that is entirely yours – to sell, to gift, or to keep.


  1. Buddy Hurley on March 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    How many words for historical adult fiction is popular?

    • Hannah Gordon on March 21, 2017 at 9:09 am

      A novel is usually at least 50,000 words. Historical fiction novels tend to run a little longer than the average novel, however, due to the details and rich historical knowledge they draw from.

  2. […] you’ve been following our blog for some time now, you’ll know we’ve discussed writing historical fiction in the past. Today, however, we’re talking about historical nonfiction. Just to clarify, nonfiction means […]

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