This week, Alida, Kathryn, and Robert discuss using real people and events in your fiction. What are the pitfalls of writing fact into fiction? What extra responsibilities do you have to history, your story, and your reader when you write reality-based fiction?




How do you balance real people, events, and places within your fictional narrative? Should you use major historical figures as protagonists? Or should they just pass by as setting or scenery? Have you asked yourself what you are aiming for in terms of your historical fiction? And why do you want to use a real figure or real event instead of complete fiction? And how important is that authors note?

What we talked about:

How do you balance fiction with honoring what actually happened in history? (0:30)

Using small pieces of reality in your fiction. (3:26)

What about fiction based entirely on real people and events? (4:45)

What are you aiming for in your historical fiction? (7:40)

The difference between using history as setting versus history as the plot. (11:25)

Who is your protagonist? (12:56)

Why do you want to use a real figure or real event instead of full-on invention? (14:25)

History as setting. (17:17)

How important is an authors note in reality based fiction? (18:34)


Things we mentioned:

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
11/22/63 by Stephen King

Want more about these topics? Check out:

SWRT 043 Balancing Character & World Building
SWRT 18 Setting

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

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