Advice From Top Historical Fiction Authors

When I interviewed some of the top 20 historical fiction authors, I asked each one what advice they would offer to other writers. Here’s what they said.

  • Find a story you are really committed to; write the story that’s in your heart; write what you want (Hilary Mantel, Susan Higginbotham, Helen Hollick)
  • Find an agent if at all possible (Sharon Key Penman)
  • Read and research widely and diligently, then let it simmer (Hilary Mantel, Elizabeth Chadwick)
  • Educate yourself on the world of e-books and self-publishing (Sharon Kay Penman)
  • Trust your gut (CW Gortner)
  • Find your unique voice (CW Gortner)
  • Master your craft (CW Gortner)
  • Shape your drama around history (Hilary Mantel)
  • Don’t bend the facts (Hilary Mantel)
  • Treat historical figures with respect (Susan Higginbotham, Elizabeth Chadwick)
  • Enjoy yourself (Elizabeth Chadwick)
  • Be proud of what you do (Margaret George)
  • Never give up; keep writing (CW Gortner, Michelle Moran)

So, if you are feeling daunted by feedback from your agent, uncertain of plot direction, distracted by Facebook, Twitter and other tools, proud of the day’s word count, disappointed with yet another rejection, exhilarated by some accomplishment, envious of a fellow author’s progress, pleased that you survived NaNoWriMo, or struggling for exactly the right turn of phrase – think of these writers who trod the same path and achieved success.

Listen to their advice, allow it to permeate your writer’s soul.

8 thoughts on “Advice From Top Historical Fiction Authors”

  1. I would like to add that “out of the box” creative thinking is also a vital ingredient for any writer. Non-conformity (not necessarily deviancy) is a positive attribute!

  2. Hilary Mantel wrote the handsdown best or secondbest historical novel in my entire reading experience — and one essential element for me is that she always, always gets not just the facts, but the whole context, exactly right. Words worth hearing.

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