by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Readers 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.
The 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.
Word 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.