So you want to write a historical fiction piece, but you have little to no idea where to start?
Step 1: Choose a time period. Think about what time period you gravitate towards and if there are several, pick your favorite. (I love the Civil War era and Victorian era, but since the market is saturated with the Civil War, I chose to focus on the Victorian era.)
Step 2: Choose a location. This is the fun, yet challenging part. Make sure that the location of your story will be historically accurate and geographically correct. For example, you would not let your character experience a blizzard in New Orleans or let them go rolling down hills. We have one hill in New Orleans, Monkey Hill, and it was built by the zoo to allow the New Orleans children to experience what it feels like to roll down a hill, but it wasn’t built until 1933, so I couldn’t let my Victorian children go rolling around in New Orleans without having any hills.
Step 3: What will your story be about? Take time to research the markets to see what is out there. You want to avoid writing something that has been done a million and one times. If you don’t have a clue, think about a novel that you wished had a different ending. Did the girl end up with the wrong guy? Change it! Did your favorite character die? Change it! Did you wish they had written a subplot? Write it! You are the author. You can tell the story the way you want it told (until of course your characters start thinking on their own and take the story down a different path).
Step 4: Does this interest you enough to write for the next 6 months? Are you passionate about it? If your chosen topic interests you and you are passionate about, let that enthusiasm spill into your writing and people will read it. If you are bored with your writing, your readers will be bored, so make sure that you decide carefully on your time period, location, storyline and subplot.
Step 5: Outlining. Create a “skeleton” chapter-by-chapter outline, which is the general direction that you want to go with your story and then, when you are ready to begin writing, map out the micro plot. See my blog on the importance of outlining.
Step 6: Get writing. People can talk about their book idea until they are blue in the face, but it won’t get written until you WRITE IT. Find a time that works for you and start pounding the keyboard. If you feel like you don’t have time to write, check out Finding Time to Write While Working Full-Time.
Step 7: Edit, review, edit, review and edit! Now that you have the actually have a decent word count under your belt, go back and edit your book. Tie up any loose ends in the plot and subplot. Once the first edit is complete, let someone else read your work. Letting someone else read your almost finished novel is a little scary at first, but it is essential for feedback. They can catch something that you have read too many times and have missed. After they give you their feedback, add any of their edits that you found helpful, review it one more time and edit it until you feel it is ready to be sent out to an agent.
What is your process of creating a story from scratch?
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