As an historical fiction writer, you must face these challenges when creating stories for your readers. After months of research and years of rewrites, critique group meetings, and feedback from agents and editors, I finally got an acceptance. Looking back on this experience and talking with other historical fiction writers, I realized it is easy to fall into five historical fiction pitfalls. Until you can learn to avoid these, your story will suffer, and the road to publication may be long and difficult.
The ten commandments of good historical writing by Theron F. Schlabach With apologies to the Author of the original ten I. Thou shalt begin with an outline that buildeth thy entire paper around thy central ideas.
In any case, whether you organize by thesis-subthesis, topic, or narrative, your central task is to ask penetrating, interpretive questions of your sources.
Therefore structure your outline to let incidental facts recede as supporting evidence, and to emphasize answers to intelligent questions. Facts and details should always support the main ideas in evident ways. Do not relegate the real point or points of the paper to the conclusion.
Thou shalt avoid self-conscious discussion of thy intended purposes, thy strategy, thy sources, and thy research methodology. Keep the focus on what you have to say, not on the question of how you hope to develop and say it. Do not parade around in your mental underwear. Show only the well-pressed and well-shined final product.
Avoid self-conscious-sounding phrases such as: Avoid use of first person.
If you’re writing a resume, though, avoid the first person; describe your experience, education, and skills without using a personal pronoun (for example, under “Experience” you might write “Volunteered as . D. Major Research: Now do the bulk of your research. But do not overdo it. Do not fall into the trap of reading and reading to avoid getting started on the writing. After you have the bulk of information you might need, start writing. You can fill in the smaller gaps of your research more effectively later. Writing of past events in the present tense is usually evidence that the author lacked appreciation for historical setting. Historical essays and book reviews present special problems. But even the author’s act of writing a book took place in the past, even if only a year or two ago.
If you must discuss methodology, do it in a preface; discussing sources is fine, but in a bibliographical essay.
Phrases that tell your reader explicitly what you intend to do or to do next, or that tell explicitly where to see emphasis, are crutches. The above does not mean that you offer the reader no cues and clues. Yes, it is important, in the opening paragraph or two of a paper or a section, to lay out the essential question s you will address and often to hint at the answers you may find.
But do it artistically, not with a heavy hand. In the cases of historiographical papers and book reviews you may of course discuss sources. Those cases are exceptions. There may be other exceptions. Document those facts which you cannot consider common textbook knowledge—especially those which could be controversial or which are crucial to the development of your argument, analysis, or narrative.
If there get to be too many footnotes, combine some or all that refer to a given paragraph. However, never make one footnote cover material in more than one paragraph. When in doubt, footnote.
Thou shalt strive for clarity above cuteness; thou shalt not use jargon when common language will serve, nor a large word when a small one will serve, nor a foreign term when an English one will serve, nor an abstract term where a vivid one is possible.
Learn first of all to write lean, tough, logical, precise prose. After you have learned that, you may begin to experiment with metaphors, allusions, and fancily turned phrases.
But use these only if they add to communication and do not clutter it up. Never use more words when you can make the point with fewer. Trying to impress your reader with obscure vocabulary, erudition in foreign or specialized verbiage, and all such pretension, is absolutely out.
Remember thy paragraph to keep it a significant unity; thou shalt not fragment thy discussion into one short paragraph after another, and neither shalt thou write a paragraph that fails to develop a topical idea.
Think of the paragraph as an instrument to develop an idea. The paragraph should have a recognizable idea, usually as a topic sentence. Usually, three sentences are minimum for a good paragraph, and most paragraphs should have more.
Short paragraphs seldom develop ideas or nuances. They are for people with very short attention spans which partly explains why journalists use them.
Maximum length for a good paragraph is roughly one typed, double-spaced page, although a paper full of such long paragraphs will be tiring.
There are times to violate the no-one-or-two-sentence-paragraph rule, especially: Thou shalt write as if thy reader is intelligent—but totally uninformed on any particular subject: Here, the chief temptations are: So, do not refer to facts in language that implies that the reader is already familiar with them, unless you have first established the facts.Referencing - One of the most important ways to avoid plagiarism is including a reference page or page of works cited at the end of your research paper.
Again, this page must meet the document formatting guidelines used by your educational institution. In writing a historical research report, it is best to: avoid mentioning alternative interpretations of events proposed by other scholars.
leave most of the interpretation of data to the reader rather than impose your own point of view. WRITING A GOOD HISTORY PAPER History Department Hamilton College ©Trustees of Hamilton College, cannot cover everything you need to know about historical writing and research.
Get a good general stylebook and keep it by your side as you. Points A historical research report may differ from other research reports in that presentation of data and interpretation of data Correct grupobittia.com be intertwined in a flowing narrative style Answer Key: D Question 11 of 20 Points All qualitative research approaches have two things in common, one is to study a particular phenomena in all its complexity and the other is to_____%(25).
footnotes for any research paper in history. Parenthetical citations are unaesthetic; they scar the text and break the flow of reading. Worse still, they are simply inadequate to capture the richness of historical sources.
Historians take justifiable pride in the immense variety of their sources. Historical fiction writers often conduct years and years of research before they write a single word.
This can lead to a common historical fiction problem—boring the reader with all the history .