Historical Fiction - Defined and described with quality examples by its story elements
Historical fiction is a type of story or literature told in a variety of media. Stories which are based on real life historical events and set in historical time and place. However, some characters may have never existed, along with their actions, which are insignificant historically, but may be included to tell a better story. For example: there may not be a specific record of actual dialogue, food eaten, clothes worn, routes traveled, ... so the author inserts information that is thought to be historically accurate for the period.
A quality piece of historical fiction tells a compelling story that balances authentic and accurate information with fiction and may included the quality characteristics listed below. It can further be characterized by looking at the story elements (Characters, plot, setting, theme, style, tone, and point of view) and how they are often characterized in historical fiction pieces.
Quality Characteristics of historical fiction
- There is a mixture of real and fictional events. Significant historical events are historically accurate, but minor events and/or characters may be added or modified.
- Characters are involved in a conflict or problem that is real (or mirrors life) for that time period
- Uses descriptive writing that digs into characters making them interesting and are easy to identify with.
- Intriguing plot that creates some sort of suspense.
- Plot makes sense and has a solution.
- Historically authentic setting that sets the tone for the story.
- Is in a real place and a definite period of time in history that the reader wants to know more about.
Quality characteristics by story elements
- Characters are ordinary real people who did or could have lived in the historical setting.
- Characters are usually shaped by the setting.
- Characters usually change as a result of the problem and must to be able to resolve it.
- Place is a particular historical geographical location.
- Time is a particular historical period.
- Must be plausible and believable.
- Usually problem or puzzling event is a result of the time or place in history for characters to resolve.
- Reader/listener usually feel that the story really happened or could have happened.
- Themes usually fit with a historical context or can have conflicting contexts between historically different views.
- Themes are related to life, people, social, political events as well as good versus bad/evil and other universal timeless themes.
- Author usually uses foreshadowing or clues to tease the reader/listener's curiosity.
- Some events include historical events, dialogue, period thoughts, historical accurate, but not all information is authentic. Characters and dialog if made up needs to fit the historical aspects.
- Dialog, artifacts, feelings, are from the real world and described accurately for the time period and other essential elements of the story.
- The story must be told with significant detail to place the reader/listener in the historical setting
- Feel that it really happened. Children will often ask if it was real and be disappointed when told, no.
- The reader/listener feels he or she experienced the historical setting and situation.
- Reflects the values and spirit of the time and culture.
- Relates information without distortion of know events, attitudes, to include different points of view represented during the historical time.
Point of View
- Could be any. Often third person narrative.