8 More Tips for New Historical Fiction Authors

In May, I shared 8 earlier posts aimed at advice for authors who are new to writing historical fiction.

Today, I’m sharing 8 more from the archives including a few that encourage us to consider our readers’ perspectives as we write.

The Power of Fiction – readers’ perspectives. As newish authors, never forget your readers and what they’re looking for in a compelling story. This post assembled input from readers of different ages, genders and locations.

Historical Perspective: Appealing to Modern Readers. Character is the bridge to the distant path says author Cryssa Bazos. Cryssa goes on to offer several other thoughts on how to write historical fiction that appeals to readers.

Learning from James Patterson is another post that outlines some fundamentals for writing fiction, not specifically historical fiction in this case, however, I think his advice has great merit. He begins with “the only question is, how will the reader respond?”

In 5 Ingredients of Favourite Historical Fiction, I shared a perspective on readers’ favourite historical fiction based on a reader survey I conducted in 2015 which included readers’ top 3 choices of their favourite novels.

Three Flavours of Historical Fiction ~~ Having examined historical fiction by writing it, conducting global reader surveys and reading extensively, it is clear that this highly popular genre comes in a multitude of flavours. The obvious flavours concern time period, location and sub-genre such as mystery, saga or romance, but it seems that other, perhaps more subtle, variations distinguish historical fiction for readers . . .

Since writing dual timeline novels is so popular, here’s a post on the Ingredients of a Dual Timeline Mystery. When writing my first dual timeline, I developed a method to keep track of the clues and red herrings that are essential to the genre. Add to that the need to keep track of two main characters and their separate timelines and you might be inclined to tear your hair out from time to time . . .

World-Building – a look at history – “The present is nothing without the past. To lend your world a sense of depth and realism, consider developing historical events that continue to impact the world in which your characters live.” This post looks only at one element of world-building in historical fiction. Other posts look at culture & society as well as geography and politics as part of the worlds we build in historical fiction.

Tips on Setting in Historical Fiction – this post began the exploration of what I call the 7 elements of historical fiction. Broadly speaking, setting is a time and place of the past. In more than one survey, readers of historical fiction state that bringing the past to life is the primary reason for reading historical fiction. Successful historical fiction will do just that — transport readers into the past. Creating an authentic and convincing setting is critical . . .

I hope these are useful! Let me know if there are topics you’d like to see in these tips and techniques posts.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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2 Responses

  1. Good afternoon, Mary, I enjoyed this blog post and certainly learned from it. I have a full manuscript, a historical biography of a 20th century American woman, and at this point I feel I need someone to simply read it give me an opinion. Go forward or turn completely around with it? I think I must be talking about a manuscript appraisal.
    Have you ever used someone in that position? If so, what are your thoughts on their effectiveness. Where did you find your help if you used someone? I’ve read three of your books and reviewed one or two. I enjoy your writing style as I see it as very concise so thus very readable. When I think of my manuscript I see it similar to your style, Gill Paul or Alyson Richman’s styles. I do aim high, don’t I?
    Julia Smith

    1. Hi Julia – thanks for your comment and your feedback on my novels. I’m delighted to know that you liked them.

      In terms of reader/editors, I’ve used different approaches. (1) a paid for editor who first does a developmental review that considers the big picture of whether your story is good and effectively told, (2) beta readers who come in early and are encouraged to give frank feedback. Usually these are experienced readers you trust – definitely not your family or friends!, and (3) late stage readers to give a final read of the book before publishing. Sometimes I’ve used Facebook to ask for this type of reader.

      I hope that’s helpful!

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