Write Inspiring Historical Fiction by Following These 4 Tips

Find Inspiration to Write by

Following Your Interests

tips for authors who write historical fiction

Courtyard Inspiration

Each author tells a little different story when relating the process used to kick-start and write their book. What I am going to share with you is my unique experience that may be useful to you– at least I hope so. The genesis of the process takes place within my head. Characters tumble around in my thoughts like kernels of corn popping open in the microwave. Of course, in my case, the characters come to life out of the shadows of history, primarily from eighteenth- or nineteenth- century France.

So what do I do to join them in their surroundings? I steep myself in their environment through reading other authors’ works from the period. Best of all is the anticipation of what I’ll find to influence the novel I’m working on. I look forward to meeting my muse in my courtyard while I have my morning coffee. It’s my time before beginning to write on my laptop for an hour or two each day.

A general tip for writers is to make the commitment to write for a set amount of time on the days available. There will be occasions when your muse will seem to be lost, but write something during the time allotted anyway. When you read your work, you’ll find its much better than you thought, and that, with minor revisions, it moves your story forward.

A second general tip is to have a notepad nearby at all time because inspirations occur at the most unexpected moments. If you don’t record them, you won’t be able to recall them. They’re fleet-footed jewels that are easily lost.

1. Collect antique memoirs as inspiration

collecting memoir books

Memoirs

I started collecting antiquarian books about France fifteen years ago, some valuable, some not . They’re an important part of my research resource material. I found books online at various sites, such as Barnes and Noble’s used book dealer associates, AbeBooks and eBay as well as in brick and mortar antique shops. I’m glad that I started when I did. At the time there was a nice selection before shopping online became widespread.  Some of the titles are:

  • The Memoirs of  The Marquise de Keroubec
  • The Chevalier de Boufflers
  • Memoires of the Marquise de Custine
  • The Wife of the First Consul
  • Memoires of Madame de Remusat
  • Rochambeau:Father and Son, and Memoirs of My Life by Pierre Clement de Laussat.

2. Get inspired by joining other writers

I’m a member of the High Desert California  Writers Club. Some of the benefits of membership include monthly meetings with programs that inform and inspire as well as an annual conference relating to the needs of writers at all levels of writing experience. Networking is a benefit that knows no limit. For me personally, I found my editor and cover design artist right at our branch meetings. I can’t sing the praises enough for the folks in my critiques groups. Their collective talents, insights, and experiences have guided me to the completion of my first  novel and to the draft copy of my second one.

I’m also a member of Romance writers of America, a national organization, that sponsors writing contests, workshops, an annual conference and publishes a monthly magazine, Romance Writers Report. The articles in the Report cover a broad range of topics of interest to writers.

3. Assemble and decorate miniature scaled boxes to inspire fiction writing

French miniature room boxes

French Great Hall

I don’t know whether any of you have seen the miniature rooms of the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. I haven’t been so fortunate. However, that experience is on my bucket list of things to do.  The galleries exhibit sixty-eight lighted boxes which take the viewer to far-off times and places.  Twelve of the rooms are various French ones on the scale of one inch to a foot. The French Hall of the Louis XII Period, c.1500.was created in Mrs James Ward Thorne’s studio after she was inspired by the chateau at Blois, sans furniture. She had the miniature furnishing created from pieces she saw in another chateau in the Loire Valley and at the Cluny Museum in Paris.

I am working on a room box of about the same period and am inspired by my book, Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. I find the three-dimensional experience of working with a scale model of a historic room enriches my appreciation of the period.

4. Research  and collect period items for more inspiration

French Sideboard furniture

French Sideboard

I have always been drawn to French Rococo-style furniture favored by King Louis XV in the mid-eighteenth century. Later when I completed a course of study in interior design, which included a comprehensive study of furniture, I began making regular visits to antique shops. Since then I have collected a few pieces with which I surround myself. It is easy for me to slip into a revere about being in some of the scenes I have written into my novels.

 

 

 

 

 

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