Where to Start with Historical Fiction – DIY MFA Blog – Pamela Taylor

The cliché advice to anyone wanting to write is “write what you know.” There’s nothing wrong with that advice, but, in my opinion, it doesn’t go far enough. You may know an incredible amount about the Vietnam War, but if you have a particular aversion to that period of American history, trying to write about it may quickly begin to feel like drudgery. It’s unlikely you’ll tell a very good story if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing about.

So think about what speaks to your heart. Are you intrigued by the dangers faced by the resistance movements in Europe during World War II? Find a historical figure—or create your own character—and plunge into the story.

Are you fascinated by women who’ve played remarkable roles in the distant past? These weren’t always political figures. They might have been in science or medicine or the arts. Go looking for some of the lesser-known ones and spin their tale.

Do you think it might have been fun to have lived during the Renaissance in the orbit of someone like Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo? Why not create a character who was an apprentice or assistant to the great master? Or, perhaps even more intriguing still, a character who fancied themselves as a rival to the great one?

Do you love music? Choose a composer—perhaps a less well-known one—and tell their story. Perhaps tell it from the point of view of someone in their household? Or maybe tell the tale of the creation of one of your favorite masterworks.

Where to Start with Historical Fiction – DIY MFA Blog – Pamela Taylor

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