Definition of Historical Fiction and 6 Tips for Writing Your Historical Novel

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Readers are transported to some other place and time, either actual or imagined, in historical fiction. Writing historical fiction takes a combination of knowledge and imagination, and while it frequently contains real events and people, the genre provides numerous opportunities for a fiction writer to craft a completely original tale. Let’s follow us to find out the definition of historical fiction and tips for writing a historical fiction novel.

Definition of Historical Fiction

Definition of Historical Fiction
Definition of Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is a genre of literature in which the plot is set in the past. For authenticity, historical novels portray as many characteristics of the time period as possible, including social standards, etiquette, customs, and traditions. Many works in this category depict fictitious stories about real historical characters or events. That is the definition of historical fiction.

The Evolution of Historical Fiction

Historical fiction, as we know it in modern Western literature, dates from the early nineteenth century. Among the earliest authors to investigate the historical setting as its own notion for a book were Sir Walter Scott, Honoré de Balzac, James Fenimore Cooper, and Leo Tolstoy.

By the early twentieth century, the genre had flourished in the United States, with a concentration on war stories such as Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel about just the American Revolution or William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom about the American Civil War.

5 Common Historical Fiction Elements

5 Common Historical Fiction Elements
5 Common Historical Fiction Elements

Location: The most crucial aspect of a historical fantasy work is the setting. It should start happening during a real historical time and in an actual historical location.

Storyline: The plot of a historical fiction work combines real and imaginary events. You can make up persons, locations, and occurrences, but they must still make sense in terms of the historical period. A historical novel in London, England in 1666, for example, would profit by including the Great Fire of London, a crucial turning moment in the city’s history.

Individuals can be real, imaginary, or even both, and they must all appear, talk, and behave in ways that fit the age. For example, if you’re working on a book concerning Mary Tudor, you shouldn’t ignore or rewrite her family background as Henry VIII’s daughter and Elizabeth I’s sister, both of whom played crucial roles during Mary’s reign.

Conversation: The conversation has to be historically accurate and represent the standing of the characters speaking. For instance, British soldiers during the American Revolution would not have used today’s Western terminology.

Conflict: The difficulties that the characters face should be challenges that people of that age would face. For example, your work may explain a German soldier’s reluctance and terror as he travels to the Eastern Front, wherever he realizes he will most likely die.

6 Historical Fiction Writing Tips

Remember the following while you create your historical fiction novel:

Freewriting to generate ideas: If you want to write historical fiction but don’t know where to begin, spend 15 minutes in your notebook writing about a time or historical event you want to depict in fiction. Make a list of any preconceptions you have of the time, cultural portrayals in other films and books, and what especially fascinates you about this historical period.

Consider utilizing a historical period of time: As a background and inserting fictitious main characters within that universe to find an interesting entrance into a time period. Alternatively, take a historic moment and develop fictitious individuals who witnessed it and were influenced by it.

Conduct your research: Smaller nuances are just as crucial as obtaining the historical facts correct. Make a list of the elements in your project that you haven’t explored but should. These will most likely be minor details, such as the color of refrigerators, whose precision will keep a reader engaged and your tale convincing.

6 Historical Fiction Writing Tips
6 Historical Fiction Writing Tips

Create a universe: Creating a world makes historical fiction novels more real and offers viewers a reason to come back. Include historical context for the world wherein your narrative takes place, and blend those exotic facts with common, accessible ones to maintain the plot grounded. However, don’t just add material for the sake of adding it; make sure that every aspect of your world-building promotes the tale.

Don’t get caught down in conversation: Various historical periods have diverse terminology and grammatical patterns. Include a few words and phrases here and there to underline the historical background, but not so many that the story becomes tough to interpret and less pleasant.

Create fictitious characters: Even if you’re writing about actual events, you may use your imagination. Introducing fictitious characters to supplement those based on real individuals may help you drive the plot forward, introduce individuality, and keep it fascinating.


There are some historical events that continue to captivate people. It’s an attempt to look beyond the veil of time whenever you set out to document the supposed inner lives of actual people—or the fictitious people of genuine eras and places. Historical fiction is a type of writing that attempts to do this by setting invented stories or characters in genuine historical settings. Hoping the article about the definition of historical fiction and tips for writing a historical fiction novel will be useful for you.


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