How to Write a Great Historical Fiction

We have a special guest today!  Soren Paul Petrek, author of Cold Lonely Courage, is here with us to talk about how to write a great historical fiction novel.  Enjoy!


How to Write a Great Historical Fiction

by Soren Paul Petrek

Writers of great historical fiction all have a passion for the study of history.  Often times a specific period in history will captivate a writer’s imagination and lead them to write a story immersed in that time frame.  It becomes an overwhelming need to ‘participate’, if only tangentially, in the events of the time, whether monumental or commonplace.

The story must be true to the time and accurately chronicle the major events of the period.  One shouldn’t ‘rewrite’ the important historical events; rather work with them to coordinate the action as the novel develops.  As history has a known outcome, the characters and action must fit in smoothly within the parameters of historical fact.  Great historical fiction is the ‘story’ within the ‘story’.  Every piece of important history is comprised of countless perspectives, participants and individual factors that an entire novel should only revolve around one or two pieces of the puzzle.  Trying to do too much and include vast amounts of information will detract from what the writer is trying to accomplish.  The task of fiction writers is to entertain and in the context of an historical novel to educate the reader on some scale about the people and events of the time.  Those of us who love historical fiction find the ‘educational component’ one of the main draws of the genre.

A writer must decide whether to allow the events of the period to carry the story or the characters and plot line the writers creates.  Focusing on the historical facts may well distract the reader and cause them to lose the story in a myriad of details.  I believe that an entertaining historical novel serves to pique the reader’s interest in the time period and lead them to further study.  We have so many incredible resources for the study of history at our fingertips that a reader can delve into them at whatever level they choose.  A writer should leave the fine detail to those resources and stick with the story their passion requires them to tell.

You can visit Soren’s blog at

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