Author Emma Darwin explains how you make sure historical fiction readers get necessary information without it being clunkingly obvious
Dr. Darwin's Writing Tips
Historia’s inimitable agony aunt, Dr Darwin answers your questions about the craft of historical writing.
Distressed by dialogue? Got your timelines in a tangle? Buried by your bibliography? Then this is the place for you.
Got a question for Dr Darwin? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t promise a reply but all questions will be considered for future columns.
Our resident agony aunt, Dr Darwin, answers a common question: How can I find a voice for my historical fiction? Dear Dr Darwin, Writing courses boast they’ll help you to “find your voice”, and “the voice” is the thing that publishers and therefore agents say they are looking for almost above all. But what does […]
Our resident agony aunt, Dr Darwin, answers a common question: what counts as historical fiction? Dear Dr Darwin, I told my grandmother that I was writing a historical novel set in the Liverpool of the early Beatles, and she laughed so hard she nearly fell off her motorbike. I told my brother the Beatles weren’t […]
Our resident agony aunt, Dr Darwin, answers a common question – how do you research historical fiction? Dear Dr Darwin, Everyone says “research till your eyes bleed” – you did in your post about cultural appropriation – but when I Google, all I can find is the information I know already, repeated in a million […]
Dear Dr Darwin, I’m working on a script that begins during the 1830’s. The central character is a fictional young Black teen, and two major characters are actual historical figures: a young Native American warrior and a mixed-blood warrior; the true purpose of the script is to tell their fascinating story. I, however, am White. […]
Dear Dr Darwin I recently came upon a long-dead member of my family, Jebediah, who did some amazing things, in all sorts of places in the world. I think lots of people would find Jebediah fascinating, but I’m not equipped to do the formal, thorough research that a biography would need. Nor is there a […]
Dear Dr Darwin I’ve got to the stage where I want feedback on my novel-in-progress, but I only know non-historical novelists, or non-novelist historians, or readers of historical fiction who don’t write it. I don’t want to ask too many at once, for fear of getting confused, so which should I go for? P.S. I […]
Dear Dr Darwin My characters don’t think they sound historical, but their present-day isn’t my present-day: they are Other to us. If I make them sound like 21st century people then the novel will just be like a modern film in pretty period costumes, but if I try to write the novel as it would […]