How to Write WWII Historical Fiction

How to Write WWII Historical Fiction

Want to Write WWII historical fiction?

Write WWII historical fiction by reading about the setting’s time period. Study the politics, economics and military strategy of the particular time and place you’re writing about.

World War II Theaters of Operation

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If you haven’t decided on the place of your setting but want to write in the World War II historical fiction genre, familiarize yourself with the theaters of operation during the war:
  • European Theater of Operation
  • Mediterranean Theater of Operations
  • Pacific Theater of Operations
  • China Burma India Theater

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Write About What Interests You

Write WWII historical fiction by focusing on the theater of the war that interests you. What city or country in the theater areas have you found of interest? Research it. Read all you can about it. The more research you do, the better your book will be. For example, When Paris Went Dark, by Ronald Rosbottom, is about the Nazi occupation of Paris from 1940 to 1944. The book is well researched and written so effectively that as a reader, you feel a sense of what the Parisians suffered from the German occupation.

Research and Get to Know Your Characters

Historical fiction writing requires extensive research. Read books about the battles that were fought, the politics of the world during that time, nonfiction, historical fiction, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies and other sources such as movies, newspaper articles and museum exhibitions.
You could also write about post World War II and how a certain country changed after the war, possibly a place not much written about previously. For example, Connie Hampton Connally, author of The Songs We Hide, wrote a novel about post World War II and communism in Hungary. She states in her blog, “Sometimes we as writers can feel overwhelmed by trying to make sense of the politics, economics and military strategy of what we are writing about, and certainly we need to understand it as well as we can.  But the main thing to convey is the effect of the events on our characters.”
Choose a variety of fiction and nonfiction books about World War II. This will give you much more than just a general idea about the war. Read history books but also the personal stories by veterans, political figures, and people who did not serve in the military but were affected by the war. Doing this helps a historical fiction writer get a true feel of what it was like to live through that time period. Then your novel’s characters begin to reveal emotions that individuals struggle with after experiencing the ravages of war.

List of Helpful Books to Read

Listed in the back of The French Connection novels is a section called Further Reading on This Time Period. These are books I’ve read that have been helpful in writing my historical fiction. If you are interested in writing World War II historical fiction romance, the following-listed books are examples of ones I found helpful for Mon Amour, Friend or Foe. Of course, I have read many more excellent ones. A search on Amazon will alert you to reading material of particular relevance for your story.

World War II Fiction

  1. The Blue Bicycle by Regine Deforges
  2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  3. The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

World War II Non-Fiction

  1. When Paris Went Dark by Ronald C. Rosbottom
  2. Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba
  3. The Hotel on Place Vendome by Tilar J. Mazzeo
  4. Americans in Paris by Charles Glass

The French Connection Series by Elizabeth Pye

historical fiction inspiration
Elizabeth Pye

The settings from The French Connection novels, Silk or Sugar and Return to Chateau Fleury, are both based on The French Revolution and Paris history and the third book in the series is on World War II. Therefore, reading books about Paris during the eighteenth century and World War II provided valuable information especially in creating the setting and sense of place for the novels.

Enjoy Your Writing Journey

Enjoy your writing journey into the world of historical fiction. You will experience times of intense writing, relaxation and new inspiration, reading and more reading for research, and joy of accomplishment as your novel progresses. Eventually, the day of the publication will arrive, and you’ll be able to share with others how you write WWII historical fiction. Finally, you’ll reach your goal – and then, you’ll begin the journey for the next novel.

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