2. THE STORY
What do all of these have in common: Alison Weir, Anne Perry, Ann Woodward, Laura Joh Rowland, Stephen Saylor, Elizabeth Peters, Mary Renault, the early Jean Auel, Philippa Gregory, James Melville and Diana Gabaldon? THE STORY. Amazing plot-driven, character-driven, conflict-driven, history-driven, stories.
The STORY is what draws me into historical fiction and the historical background is what keeps me there. IF the history is accurate (See my previous post) i.e. no anachronisms, or egregious errors. I was reading a book, which will remain nameless, that is beautifully written. However, there were a few details which were totally and completely inaccurate. It happened to be about Japan, 11th century, about which I know a bit, and the white teeth of one of the aristocrats was mentioned. The aristocrats at that time did not have white teeth. They blackened their teeth. I stopped reading.
Speaking of knowledge and master’s degrees in history, I am doing the research for the sequel of Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai. Yes, people, I am earning my Masters in history. But I have no intention of inflicting it on my readers except, except as background for what I hope will be an even more interesting story and characters.
I had the fortunate experience of taking a workshop with John Pipkin (Woodsburner). One of the points he made was that historical fiction writers need to know that they are NOT exempt from writing a good story. There are so many excellent strategies out there for writing good stories, nay, an excellent story. I’ve given some of this list before: Larry Brooks, Donald Maass, Chris Vogler, James Scott Bell, Jeff Gerke, Dara Marks, Nancy Kress, Karl Iglesias, Holly Lisle, Robert McKee, and Margie Lawson. (These are NOT in any particular order, please note.)
I could go on and on, but won’t because some of you are readers and not writers. I personally love you. And I’ll bet most of my writing friends do, too. Thank you.
Stay tuned in a few weeks for #3 aspect of historical fiction.