by @ AnnieDaylon
Looking for a great tip for writing historical fiction?
Try this: “Once upon a time, it was now.”
I found this pearl of wisdom in The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by successful historical fiction author, James Alexander Thom. Thom sees this concept as most effective for storytelling and has adopted it as his credo. The author, Thom says, must write as if everything is happening now, with no thought about future. He further explains:
“Today is now.
Yesterday was now.
Tomorrow will be now.”
How do authors of historical fiction make any time now? By taking the reader there, into that exact time.
For me, this means that authors must provide not only authentic historical details, but also authentic character reactions. Yes, the authors know the future. Yes, the readers know the future. But the characters know nothing of the future. Authors must make readers so enmeshed that they forget the future, that they are there, now, with the characters, looking forward, experiencing the same emotions, reactions, and uncertainty the characters do.
I am in the editing process of Book I of a trilogy which is set on the island of Newfoundland, one hundred years ago and the phrase “Once upon a time, it was now” is never far from my mind. I am determined that my ‘once upon a time’ will be a now.
Many thanks to James Alexander Thom! 🙂
Do you have a favorite tip for writing historical fiction (or any other genre?) If so, please send it along!
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My best to you,