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Historical Fiction – One genre that is here to stay

It’s writer conference season and last weekend I attended one and learned a lot! I wanted to share from my notes and hopefully these lessons will help other writers. At the Protagonist Ball I dressed up as Zenobia the Warrior Queen.What a blast!

me as zenobia

Heather B. Moore – “Historical Fiction – One Genre that is here to stay.”

Write what you know but also write what you love. Research can open your world to new ideas.

Why Historical Fiction sells: We like to learn from the past. We ask questions like; where did our families come from? We Love to learn. History stands the test of time.

Study something you like; a certain time period that interests you, and then it won’t feel like work. You will be excited to write. Focus on major events or highlight a more critical time or era.

Why is the Regency genre so popular? It’s an escape to another time but its recent enough it doesn’t seem foreign. We love experiencing fancy balls, manners, and the dress.

After you’ve researched and become familiar with a certain era you can continue to write in that time period.

You want your readers to connect with a major event or a major character.

Building a historical world and integrating your research:

  • Avoid information dumps
  • Sprinkle in details
  • Move the plot forward
  • Take out clichés – like modern day thoughts
  • Go back to basics – make dialog simple


Include in your research:

  • Weather, climate, topography
  • Clothing
  • Religious culture (do people convert in masses?) You may not want your MC to go against what the masses believe or else they will be ostracized
  • Social structure – level of society
  • Government
  • Traditions, holiday festivals- create a scene that comes to life
  • Occupations & Industry- what does your MC do?
  • Food & Agriculture- What do they eat? Do they farm?
  • Travel Methods – carriages? Social status decides how they get around.


Dialect choices:

  • Characterization tool
  • Lighten up on the dialect – use a couple words but don’t be too heavy
  • Keep us in the story and don’t slow it down
  • Choose a few select words



  • Creates character
  • Increases pacing –readers skim to dialog
  • “Shows”
  • Establishes time period
  • Can put us in the story


Characterizing historical figures:

What if a major character is a historical figure?

  • Emotions
  • Motivations- What motivates them?
  • Background- What makes them act a certain way?
  • Environment
  • Character Arc – know the arc before you start writing


Expanding Historical facts into plot arc:

  • Story always comes first
  • Don’t show off your knowledge
  • Preface
  • Chapter notes
  • Website – a great place to share your knowledge of that time frame
  • Motivation – events, wars, people etc… If a character is desperate it can motivate them to do lots of things


Focus on the right conflict:

  • Most compelling
  • Unique, hasn’t been done to death
  • Decide on which part of a person’s life is most interesting


Why you don’t have to be an expert:

  • Indexes – look up nonfiction book sources
  • Google
  • Email Historians & Scholars
  • Interview professors or a skilled worker in a certain field
  • Documentaries – can help visually

Make sure you get 1 – 2 credible sources and Wikipedia is not one of them. Children books and magazines with education links are helpful. Keep track of your sources.


Selling your novel through nonfiction platforms:

  • Ask yourself –
    • What am I an expert in?
    • How am I different?
  • Join a group (historical society)
  • Volunteer
  • Speak for free
  • Teach classes

More information about Heather Moore go to http://hbmoore.com/


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