102 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

One of the joys in fiction is learning new things. For many readers of historical fiction, learning new details -- even contrary to their own expectation -- is a lot of the fun. So you can definitely ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.3k
89 votes

How do I stop my characters falling in love?

Imagine her point of view, as a typical nurse. She has already met hundreds of patients over the course of her career who had inappropriate feelings for her. 99% of them held no temptation for her at ...
Robyn's user avatar
  • 1,351
66 votes
Accepted

Should we avoid writing fiction about historical events without extensive research?

Research is vital if you want your story to succeed emotionally Imagine that you're writing a story about a horse race. Your protagonist's horse is in second place, just barely behind their arch-...
Arcanist Lupus's user avatar
41 votes

Is it okay to majorly distort historical facts while writing a fiction story?

Is it okay? Well, it's likely legal (if the person is long dead anyway, and probably even if they're alive). You can do it. You might even get it published. For a large number of readers, the ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.4k
34 votes
Accepted

How do you make characters relatable if they exist in a completely different moral context?

There is no problem at all with writing morally ambiguous characters, and it's surprisingly easy for readers to sympathise with them. Let us look at some examples: First, a modern example: A Song of ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
32 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

It might depend on the genre and style you are writing in, but from your description it seems you are mostly interested in more realistic historical fiction. If that's the case, there is nothing wrong ...
vsz's user avatar
  • 665
31 votes

How do I stop my characters falling in love?

The nurse is a nurturing character? Perhaps this reminds him of his mother or sister. This is a person with whom he can be physically and emotionally vulnerable, without any sexual connotations. ...
Rrr's user avatar
  • 843
29 votes

Should we avoid writing fiction about historical events without extensive research?

Some events are far-off historical events. The most you risk if you write about them without doing the proper research is making a fool of yourself. Other events are still within living memory. Some ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
26 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

Add an afterword or appendix. It's my favorite part of a book. Seriously. Share your fascination with history. Explain which parts of the story are made up, and which are based on reality. Add sources ...
user24582's user avatar
  • 371
25 votes
Accepted

Showing mass murder in a kid's book

You have two problems here: Lots of good people dying, "on stage" - in front of the children Good people killing other good people The first is dealt with very well in The Hobbit, for example. ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
23 votes

Is it okay to majorly distort historical facts while writing a fiction story?

Getting your facts straight is one of the rules of literature. As with the other rules of literature, it is one thing to know the rule and know when to break it, but another thing to ignore the rule ...
EvilSnack's user avatar
  • 1,581
23 votes
Accepted

Can I leave out details I don’t understand?

Generally, most readers won't care... and the ones who do are weird. "Going to the Bathroom" is only brought up for low brow humor or plot points (such as a detail of an escape). You can ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.5k
22 votes

Distorting historical facts for a historical fiction story

Hot Water: If you are going down that rabbit hole, you need to be SUPER careful. Writing in a historical period pretty much implies you stay consistent with history, except for the most trivial of ...
DWKraus's user avatar
  • 13.7k
20 votes

Distorting historical facts for a historical fiction story

I assume you mean something along the lines of Napoleon winning at Waterloo, or the British not getting caught with their pants down at King's Mountain and Cow Pens? It's usually easier to alter your ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
  • 5,292
19 votes

Should we avoid writing fiction about historical events without extensive research?

In general, avoid writing about things you don't know You are right to have misgivings about writing on a topic you haven't researched. There are a lot of risks involved in doing this. You risk ...
linksassin's user avatar
  • 4,153
19 votes
Accepted

How to help the reader wrestle through historical atrocities which would be considered normal to the POV character

"Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect." I'd like to disagree with this statement. When you say this, you are already thinking in modern terms. My area is European Middle Ages ...
SC for reinstatement of Monica's user avatar
19 votes

Will including maps at the end of my novel keep readers engaged?

I can't remember which book series it was but it included a map at the start of the book of the entire continent where the story took place and at the start of each chapter another map that was zoomed ...
A.bakker's user avatar
  • 2,403
18 votes

How do you make characters relatable if they exist in a completely different moral context?

I think it's mostly a modern delusion that ethics today are dramatically different than they were in the past. Yes, ancient Persia routinely tortured political prisoners. So do modern China and ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 25.6k
18 votes
Accepted

Distorting historical facts for a historical fiction story

Changing history is slippery because it's a complex weave of causes and consequences, and even an expert might not know the full picture. I agree with Zeiss Ikon in their answer, the devil is in the ...
AmiralPatate's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

Is there a difference between historical fiction and creative non-fiction?

Creative non-fiction recounts factually-accurate narratives in a literary style. It reads like a story, but it is in fact real history. It will be severely criticised for containing factual ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
15 votes

Can I leave out details I don’t understand?

This stinks! This is a slightly obscure question, and might be better answered someplace like the History SE or worldbuilding. It's more relevant if the character isn't from the period (like a time ...
DWKraus's user avatar
  • 13.7k
14 votes
Accepted

Is it possible to narrate a novel in a faux-historical style without alienating the reader?

There's multiple pitfalls to consider here: The first is the Uncanny Valley concern you mention in the OP - actually being able to write in the style of the time period to a suitable level of ...
motosubatsu's user avatar
  • 7,283
14 votes

Should we avoid writing fiction about historical events without extensive research?

Just don't. You have a good ten thousand years of (semi) recorded history to choose from, in what is now hundreds of countries and multiple continents. There are many places and times you can pick ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.4k
13 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

Just be accurate and write a GOOD STORY. If your story is dry and uninteresting, no amount of research will save you. People don't buy stories for their accuracy; they buy them for entertainment. ...
Wildcard's user avatar
  • 543
13 votes

Is it okay to majorly distort historical facts while writing a fiction story?

Shakespeare did it. Richard III was not a homicidal maniac killing young princes. He was an able king. The movie Fatherland presents an alternate history where WWII never happened, Hitler is an able ...
Rasdashan's user avatar
  • 12.3k
13 votes

How do I stop my characters falling in love?

Imagine the Nurse is a lesbian. In WW2 and in the military she wouldn't be "out", but it isn't like lesbians did not exist back then. Her fiancé is a ruse; I know single lesbians that still ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
12 votes

Historical Fiction: using you and thou

...usage has caused modern speakers (I believe) to see 'thou' as more formal than 'you'. I do not think so. It is not more formal, if anything, it is archaic, or literary, or both, but you definitely ...
Lew's user avatar
  • 3,100
12 votes

Should we avoid writing fiction about historical events without extensive research?

If you don't want to do the research --and I sympathize with that --then you are not writing ABOUT a historical event, you are writing INSPIRED by a historical event. In that case, you and your ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible