Writing About History

Is your chosen writing and/or reading genre Historical Fiction or Historical Nonfiction?

Even if you were never interested in learning about history, this is your opportunity to approach the past with the heart and soul of a writer. Learning never ends!

Nonfiction sticks to the facts which come from thoroughly researching others who have written in the historical nonfiction genre and the facts of the history presented by historians. It is a journalistic and scholarly endeavor. Creative nonfiction introduces the subject, place, scene and setting. Characters are added so the reader becomes involved by relating to the subject matter.

History is the unknown. The past is over and can’t be changed, except by taking the liberty of writing creative fiction. It requires the writer to learn almost everything about a period and the social customs, just to get the characters out in the open.

Historical fiction is defined as a made-up story set in the past and sometimes borrows true characteristics of the time period in which it is set.

Historical interpretations:
1. Argument: An argument for or against what has been written about an aspect of history that peaks the writers interest.
2. Narrative: The story of a particular aspect of history.
3. Description: Gives an interpretation of a person, place or object at a particular moment in time.

Primary Sources of historical documents:
A primary source is a document that was created at the time of the event by people who were observers of, or participants in, that event. The source can be written texts, objects, buildings, films, paintings, cartoons, etc.

Secondary Sources of historical documents:
Research specialized bibliographies historians use for their own work. They are likely to be the most significant and/or complete interpretations.

After locating and analyzing some primary sources and reading the existing secondary literature on your topic, it will be time to begin writing. Historic accuracy adds authenticity to historical nonfiction and historical fiction writings.

Document the Sources researched for your own files and for use in publication.

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