10 Tips for Researching Historical Fiction

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

HistoryReaders of Historicals are pickier than other genre readers. If they find a mistake in an historical fact, they will stop reading.

Be thorough.  Don’t do a halfway job when it comes to research. Dig deeper.

Think outside the box. Think of ways you can research your fiction in ways that aren’t traditional.

Don’t take shortcuts. If there is an area you haven’t researched, somebody will know the info you’re fudging on.

what is your story questionThe more accurate the historical details, the better the story becomes. The effect you want is for the reader to feel like she’s been transported in time. Inaccurate research will pull the reader out of your story time period.

Every decision you make will affect what you need to research and how the story will evolve: location, time period, season, social station, career. For instance, if you plan for your characters to ride a train in a certain year but the train didn’t come to town until a year later, you will have to have them get other transportation or change the timeline of your story.

Let the history and research drive the story, not the other way around.
We’ve all read historical stories where the events in history are almost another character. The story revolves around the historical events. We’ve also read stories where it could have happened any time in history. The stories that use the history as a main character are more compelling.

blank sheet in a typewriterWord Choice: Make sure you don’t sound too modern in your word choices. Merriman Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition is a great resource. It has listed the year when every word came into normal usage.

Name Choice: Use names that go with the period you’re writing about. Ancestry.com is a great way to find names that go with your time period.

What to do when you can’t find the research: There are some facts in history that we simply don’t know. If you’ve done thorough research and the information is not available, make something up. But whatever you make up, make sure it seems believable based on the research you have found.

This entry was posted in Author Tamera Lynn Kraft, Lists and More Lists, Sharpening Our Writing, Top 10 Lists, Writing Tips by Tamera Kraft. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamera Kraft

Tamera Kraft has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She is also a writer and has curriculum published including Kid Konnection 5: Kids Entering the Presence of God published by Pathway Press. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

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