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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Writing Historical Fiction, part 12 Conclusions (for now)

I decided that it is time to conclude this series about writing historical fiction and turn to writing science fiction.  I do write in both genres.  I hope you discovered that all fiction writing requires immersion in the world you are writing about.  Historical fiction isn't as much a special genre of fiction as much as it is a special discipline of fiction.  The author must be disciplined enough to become steeped in the culture and history of the times he writes about, and he must be able to communicate that past world to his readers.  Further, the author must not compromise the ideas and cultures of the past to make feel-good with modern mores.  When an author does this due to lack of discipline or knowledge, then he aren't writing historical fiction anymore.  Plus, it is kind of stupid to write about the past with the blinders of the present.  Such writing cannot stand the test of time and such writing can't enlighten the next generation that really wishes to know what the world was like.  Such writing is like an Oliver Stone movie--a docudrama about a time that never was and never could be.

So my five personal rules of writing I have articulated thus far:  
1. Don't confuse your readers.

2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing - colliery: immerse your readers in the world of your writing.
The fifth "rule" was my main concern in these twelve short articles.  This rule is pertinent to all writing.  It is critical to historical fiction, but in historical fiction, the "world" must reflect some strong degree of reality.  What I want to do next is move to the next obvious point--about worlds that reflect little reality to the past or the modern world.  The how to of science fiction.  We will expand on this concept of immersion there.

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