Do you write YA? Do you write Historical Fiction? Laurie Halse Anderson writes contemporary, as well as historical fiction. If you are thinking about doing it, here is a general summary as to what is included as the norm:1. It must feel like history to the intended audience. Generally, this means that it has to feel like the events happened in a different place and time. Events from three years ago, or even ten, hardly qualify. The key here is having a setting, cast of characters, and way of life that is unique from today.
2. Make sure your facts are accurate. Many schools use these books to teach about history, so it only makes sense to use factual information, giving your books credibility. The Council on Books for Children procure a list of such books to ensure that the public is getting quality information.
3. Values and roles. How have they changed? Realizing that values have indeed changed and capturing them in your book will aid in positioning your story in a historical context. The way women dressed is an example of change and the role of women at an earlier time. Tying right into this is speech. Northerners have a different dialect than Southerners do. And, in time, the slang we use and regular vocabulary we use changes across culture. This, too, needs to be reflected.
4. Setting. Were there cars, if so, what kind, what did they look like? Were there cellphones? If so, were they big and bulky or razor thin? How did they make their coffee? How did they wash their clothes. They key to historical fiction is that you have to ask, and answer, these kinds of questions.
5. Theme. Still, despite the vast span of time, humans are fundamentally the same. What common desires take place? Events, conflicts? Has someone lost a loved one? If so, how do they heal? Did someone find themselves without any money or food? What did they do? These are common and relatable events that connect us to our ancestors. These themes and conflicts are universal and last through time. The key here is to connect the past events’ issues to todays similar issues. That’s what truly invests a reader in your book.
My Thoughts: I’ve never been a fan of historical fiction. I suppose I just wasn’t intrigued by the books available to me at the time. However, I am a big fan of supporting them and would love to see more of them in our libraries. This comes with a caveat; I want them to be of good quality in their writing style, story-telling, and accuracy. One really neat thing about historical fiction that I find both important and intriguing is that they can still, despite their many contextual differences, relate to us today.
Though it is not a book, Downton Abby is an example of Historical Fiction in the form of a television series that one, I completely adored, two, learned from, and three, appreciated.
All in all, historical fiction is quite neat and valuable.
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