IWSG: What Do I Love About Historical Fiction Genre?

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We IWSG-ers are asked, this month, about what we love about the genre we write in most often.  I write modern-historical, what some publishers would call contemporary, stories set in 1970s and 1980s.  According to the Historical Novel Society, a proper historical novel ‘must have been written at least fifty years after the events described’.
You’re expecting me to say the research is the thing I love most, aren’t you, Dear Reader?  But you’d be wrong.  As a history student (a long time ago), I spend three years with my bum on a seat in various libraries around Manchester, researching.  I would often find myself sitting next to one or more of my history honours colleagues, most frequently, next to Anne, who is now a professor of medieval history.  In those days, libraries were supposed to be silent, but we used to chat and giggle… about boys mostly.  So, nowadays, I do my initial research impatiently, wanting to get on with writing the story, and then further research, as required, as I go along.
What I really love about historical fiction is immersing myself in another era.  I love the challenge of writing about people who don’t have all the mod cons we have, how they communicated without computers, for instance.  My lot had telephones… some of the time, when their telecommunications weren’t cut off for political reasons.   I like using contemporary language, referring to contemporary issues and, especially, pop music.  I suppose there is an element of nostalgia in it… which brings me on to another point.  What I have found is that, in writing modern historical, I need a lot of background information about how ordinary people lived their lives.  This is more necessary for me in my modern historical sub-genre than for writers in the proper historical genre, because there are people still alive who lived that life and who would know if I get it wrong.  What I really would like is a library of personal reminisces, written by those people.  Couldn’t we writers write one?
The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, when we post on our own blogs, about our doubts and the fears, which we may (or may not) have conquered, our struggles and triumphs.  We also give support and encouragement to each other.
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9 thoughts on “IWSG: What Do I Love About Historical Fiction Genre?

  1. It sounds like you’ve set your 70’s and 80’s stories in a country suffering political upheaval, yes? I’m a child of the 70’s, and think I remember many details of daily life–until I watch a film set in that time and exclaim, “Oh yeah! I remember that!” Good article.

    1. I don’t know the I Love the 70s/80s show, but I do use the words of pop songs a lot, as they reflect public sentiment. Life was very different in those days.

  2. Good stuff about the historical fiction genre, especially how no one really knows if it was long, long ago whether it’s correct except some random historian a Freemont College in Wexfieldshire, Boredom. The limitations put on by the lack of technology also make that genre appealing to me as limits create more imagination and conflict. Here’s my blog post on the same question: http://genedesrochers.com/blog/

  3. Research is so important in Historical Fiction. One really does have to go back and dig in the person’s background and the age or century you’re writing about to make it believable. But I think that is necessary for all writing.
    All the best for your writing.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Yes, Pat G, that’s absolutely true. I will research more. (Some people prefer research to writing. I don’t.) Thank you for passing by.

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