Partridge India Writing Tips| 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction Pt 2

Nov 21

Partridge India returns to share more of 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction.


Tip #3- Avoid Anachronisms

Writing Historical Fiction
Depending on the time period, certain forms of architecture could be anachronisms.

An easy mistake to make when writing historical fiction is using anachronisms. Everything we do, say, or wear today would be considered an anachronism if used in a past context. An anachronism is a term, technology, practice, or object that is out of place in terms of context or setting. Some anachronisms can be small, minor details like how people greeted each other but other anachronisms can be large, like the presence of certain technologies well before or after their time.


It is important to avoid anachronisms as they can be jarring to a reader, even to readers who are not experts at history can tell if a term or technology are out of place when the anachronism is most egregious. Certain holidays practiced today may not have been practiced in your chosen setting, or at least practiced in a way very different from today. Language has undergone various changes over the millennia. You shouldn’t have to write your story in the language of the times, but it is important to avoid forms of address, sayings, idioms, or turns of phrase that would be completely to history, people, or setting you are writing about. On achieving victory you would not expect Julius Caesar to have said, ‘awesome.’


This is where research proves valuable. Research helps you know how people dressed, spoke, and lived so as to avoid anachronisms.


Tip #4- Avoid Myths

Writing Historical Fiction
Historical Fiction writers have the challenge of separating myth from history.

Another thing to avoid when writing historical fiction is historical myths. Historical myths are stories that, while popularly known, either have no known proof or are entirely incorrect. Common historical myths include George Washington’s cutting down of a cherry tree, or that Columbus was the only person of his time who believed the world was round. These ‘myths’ are either  without concrete historical evidence, or completely contradicted by resources dating back to the time period.


There are also myths of omission. When talking about Ancient Greece, most will mention Greek democracy. But ‘democracy’ in Ancient Greece usually meant only wealthy landowners had the power to vote. In addition, when talking about Greek-Persian wars, few will mention how slavery was widely practiced in Greece but outlawed in the Persian Empire.


Partridge India will conclude with the remaining 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction in Part 3.


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By Ian Smith                   

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