👋😄 I saw that you write historical fiction! I have a historical fiction book I’m planning atm and I’m not sure how to balance research and story. Any tips on that? ✒Hyba Ouazzani
That’s a good question!
I think that the most important time to do the most research is at the beginning. When I have a very general idea of the time period and setting that I will be implementing, I research a bird’s eye view. Even if you feel like you know the period very well, it can help to review the major events of a century. Plus, doing this fosters more inspiration. If you find a specific event that sparks your interest, then you can look into it even deeper and include it as an important facet of your story.
For example, I was very interested in the 1618 Defenestration of Prague. My excitement about the topic led me to incorporate it in Atrocious Immoralities as a significant plot point.
You can also research specific historical figures, and include them as characters in your story. Using historical figures as characters is a good tool for emphasizing the fiction in historical fiction. Events are harder to tweak in a compelling way in a story, but characters can be manipulated much more.
Aside from the initial research and gathering events and figures that you are inclined towards, the next most important role that research serves is fact-checking along the way. Often while writing, I will find myself asking absurdly specific questions to Google. These are moments like “Did [thing] exist in [year]?” This is a crucial, less exciting element of making sure your story is grounded in reality. I’m sure you can relate to these silly Google searches.
If you’re feeling like most of your time is dedicated to one or the other, I would suggest thinking of it more as blending the two. After you research something, ask yourself some narrative questions, like:
- How could this impact my protagonist?
- What sort of societal consequences did this event/person have at large?
Asking these questions will help you to create a cohesive historical fiction narrative, no matter what direction you take it.
I also talked about this topic pretty broadly on my blog. Good luck!