Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It is Possible to be Both Terrified and Delighted at the Exact Same Time.

If you haven't read Pride and Prejudice and are planning on doing so, point 4 has a spoiler.  Unless you already know what happens because the book is at least 200 years old.

Hey guys!  It's Grace!  I'm really happy about this month's short story challenge.  Why?  Because it's historical fiction!  And if you've read any of my other posts, you know that I LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION!  OR ANYTHING TO DO WITH HISTORY AT ALL!

But there's also something else extremely writerly happening this month.

Does anyone know what it is? (please my inner teacher and raise your hand if you know the answer)

That's right!  NaNoWriMo!  For those of you who are new to this, it's basically a month where writers torture themselves to produce 50,000 words by the end of November.  For those who succeed, a crown of glory awaits.  Those who don't either vow to try again next year, become highly motivated and actually finish the book on their own, or cry in a corner over their favorite ice cream and wonder if they should become a hedgehog.  I'm not exactly expecting to win this year (mostly because I'm doing two novellas instead of a novel, which might complicate things), but if by some odd chance a little fairy kindles my muse and I pound out 50,000 words, I will hold a party.

There are generally two reactions to NaNoWriMo and they totally depend on your personality.  There's this one:
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Aaaaaaaand then there's this one:

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I'm the bottom one, because I am an INFJ and am known for looking mildly alarmed.  Some people do not understand this, but to be fair I don't understand how some people don't think LOTR is cool.  So we're even.  

So onto historical fiction.  As much as I love this, I'm actually not going to talk a whole lot about it.  And you know what?  Let's just jump right into the tips.  Because tips are fun!  

1. Historical Fiction is NOT the same as Fantasy.
There can be a fine line between the two, but they are not the same thing.  A work of historical fiction is a story set in the actual timeline of history as we know it, in our universe, with fictional characters or a fictional character.  These characters will be affected by the historical events happening around them, and are trapped inside the bonds of what actually happened in the past.  A work of fantasy is, by pure definition of the word, a story that involves the improbable or deviates from our reality.  You can have a fantasy novel set in a historical era, but it's not historical fiction.  

Of course we must remember that you occasionally have improbable occurrences in real life, but if your story has something like, say, time travel, or a special race of elves, you're not writing historical fiction any more.

2. Historical fiction MUST be accurate.
Seriously.  This is such a huge pet peeve of mine, and I'm pretty sure I can say that all other history lovers on the planet get really mad when reading a story with a historical inaccuracy.  If you're writing fantasy (which you shouldn't be if you're following the challenge), you can bend the rules.  NEVER change a historical event or timeline.  NEVER.  

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3. Don't be afraid to add real historical stuff. 
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away, there was a write by the name of G.A. Henty.  He boys' adventure books, which were also fabulously written historical fiction novels.  His main characters were fictional, but he always surrounded them with people who actually existed, and used the fictional characters as a bridge to reach the real ones.  Don't shy away from including historical figures or events because while it does take a mountain of research (you have to know every detail of what your character would see), it can be incredibly cool to read a story that has a real person in it.  Even though they're dead...

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4. It doesn't have to be romance.
I think this is a pretty important point, because there is a lot, and I mean A LOT of historical fiction romance novels floating around out there.  I don't have anything against them, nothing solid anyway, but there is so much more you can do with that genre.  Make it an adventure!  Get your character captured by pirates!  Or poisoned!  Or something!  

But if you do make it a love story, please remember how much everyone flipped out when foolish Lydia Bennett and Mr. Wickam eloped in Pride and Prejudice.  You can be as up-and-coming as you like, but respect the opinions of the past!  Seriously.  There were things you simply did not do.  Or if you did, you were practically a societal outcast.  

So there you have it!  Write your historical fiction short story, and try to survive NaNoWriMo.  Good luck with that, by the way!  And if you've never done it and have no idea what I'm talking about, go ahead and look it up...if you really like stress and headaches and pushing yourself to complete impossible deadlines!

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