Historical Fiction for Kids in 9 Steps

Let’s be clear writing is extremely difficult. Historical fiction has a special degree of difficulty. So these steps are IN ADDITION to all the other normal awesome writing and editing you do. These are the extra things.

You also need to know that this post is here because I’m writing my first historical fiction and I’m finding it’s harder than I ever thought. This post is for me when I start writing another of these so I remember what I did the first time.

So here is what I did:

  1. I found a person. More like I found a BUNCH of people. I searched by category and was extremely specific to find the right person. For example, I searched for first women to ride and race motorcycles. I found about seven amazing ladies that were well-ish known. Be really careful you don’t pick someone super obscure because you might not find any detailed information on them to lend authenticity to your story.
  2. Research for DAYS! Look for articles, interviews, advertisements etc. Brainstorm as many angles you can about the time period your person lives in. All these details will breathe life into your story and character.
  3. Figure out your point of view. I’ve talked about this before HERE. You need to figure out if your person is the one to tell this story or if it’d be better coming from someone else.
  4. Make a rough draft(s). Write lots of ways. Really dig deep and don’t settle on the first version you try. Life in the past is just as nuanced as it is today, respect it as such.
  5. Use the right lingo. People talked a tad bit different back in the day. If you found any interviews with quotes from your person try to add them into your story in an organic way.
  6. Revise. Then revise again. Then again… you get the idea. Go back and double check your facts. If you need to, do more RESEARCH.
  7. Seek critique. I cannot over emphasize this step. Others are going to see the things you missed. You’re so close to your person and research at this point you will miss things.
  8. Make your research do double duty. If you’re past the copy write law dates you can use articles and papers to really amp up your story or your book “extras.” Save all the stuff you find and use. Your illustrator may need to references these documents.
  9. Revise again. Now that your fabulous critique partners have had a say. Take what you like and fix it up even more. Use illustration notes to drive home the historical differences from today.

Are you tired yet? I certainly am. I’m still working on this mini series and it’s slowly taking shape. Do you think you will try this type of writing for kids?

Happy Questing!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    Thanks for the advice! I really do want to write non-fiction, so we shall see!

    Like

    1. hsdeurloo says:

      Awesome! Just know that non fiction and historical fiction are different even though they share many similarities 🙂 Goodl uck and let me know if I can help at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

        Thank you for the offer of help!! I do understand there is a difference and actually saw one agent wishing for historically-based fiction. I want to try to play with both.

        Recently I found inspiration in a true story about a young girl, but the challenge is the girl is still living and I need her parents’ permission to write the story, which has not, as of yet, been forthcoming. Maybe in this situation it is better to write the historical fiction story?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. hsdeurloo says:

      Yes, writing about living persons requires permission. One book I just read that crosses the line between historical and current is IT BEGAN WITH A PAGE by Kyo Maclear & Julie Morstad. In the back of the book they talk about the family being a huge help in gathering information that improved the book a lot. The biggest difference I’m finding is one genre will let you get slightly creative with dialogue and story while the other is hyper factual. Both have their place but I prefer to have a little creative breathing room. An example of factual story would be THE GIRL WHO RODE A SHARK by Ross. Don’t be afraid of adding lots of types of notes like: illustration notes, optional sidebars, teaching opportunities. They may not end up in the actual book but it really helps agents and editors see the optional for the story. If you want to read an example I’ve got one I’ve been working on. Also always happy to critique PBs 🙂 Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    If I am too close to the actual story I would probably still need permission? I definitely like the idea of having more creative license. Perhaps it is better to write about those who are no longer around, but I definitely think there is inspiration in the young people I read about.

    Is your MS about a living or deceased person?

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