The research! You can’t write historical fiction without doing research. Depending on the era, you might already have a good working knowledge on it if you took courses in school about it or you’ve spent a lot of time watching films/reading books set during that time. I find the research component to be fun and interesting; it adds another dimension to your story. I think the funniest part about writing historical fiction is when you’re creating the story then you have to stop and read up about a certain aspect of the era so you can continue.
Fact checking multiple times. Once I’ve finished the first draft of my historical fiction story, I’ll end up fact checking the historical elements just to make sure I have them on point. Sometimes certain details can slip through the cracks while you’re writing so much information – it’s easy to misread something, so I like to ensure I’ve got the history part as correct as I reasonably can. I’m sure I’ve still made minor errors and nothing can be 100% perfect, but taking that extra step to ensure things are correct shows you took a lot of care when writing your story.
It feels cool writing an old date at the start of your book Don’t deny it. You know it’s true that you enjoy doing this. 😛 There’s just something about writing “Boston July 1772”, for example. It sets the stage for a different time.
Getting to describe the clothes/costumes of the time. I love learning about fashion during a certain era. Thanks to art that goes back even to ancient times, we have a good idea of what most cultures throughout history wore. Though there’s often a lot of wardrobe inaccuracies in historical fiction or films (There may have been microtrends where that item wasn’t worn during the time the story was set), I think having a good general idea of the era’s style helps a lot. For my own story, there’s a scene where two farm girls are getting ready to go to a wedding – and their gowns are pink and blue. Now, it was generally only rich people who could afford very colourful clothes during ancient Israel times, but that doesn’t mean a farmer didn’t splurge on a fancy gown for special occasions, so I left it in there. Not all farmers were poor, either, so the idea that these two country sisters secretly had beautiful dresses in their blanket chest adds an extra cool moment to the story. Of course, you don’t want to be too detailed about people’s fashion in every single scene, but it can be a fun way to incorporate history into fiction.
That fantastical experience. Writing a story in any time period or location is amazing, but there’s something special about immersing yourself in a different time and place. Writing about someone’s life in another era can be transporting and it adds a certain dimension to the tale since it’s not so familiar to the everyday setting you’re used to. It’s also cool to feel connected to humanity through space and time – you can’t go back in time to experience that life, but you can live vicariously through the protagonist and imagine what it might have been like for them. This is one of the coolest things about writing/reading period pieces.
I hope you enjoyed the piece or found it relatable if you write historical fiction yourself. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂