CHILDREN’S LITERATURE II
MODULE FIVE: LECTURE TWO
Historical Fiction writers have to do a great deal of research in putting together their books. Research in
history involves developing an understanding of the past through the examination and interpretation of
evidence. Evidence may exist in the form of texts, physical remains of historical sites. recorded data,
pictures, maps, artifacts and so on. The historian’s job is to find evidence, analyze its content and biases,
corroborate it with further evidence, and use that evidence to develop an interpretation of past events
that holds some significance for the present.
Historians use libraries to:
• Locate primary sources (first- hand information such as diaries, letters, and original documents)
• Find secondary sources (historians’ interpretations and analyses of historical evidence)
• Verify factual material as inconsistencies arise
World building is like creating a scene for the reader to step into and become a part of. Historical fiction
novels are typically meant to place the reader into the past and allow them to experience what it was like.
For example, the historical fiction writer may describe a situation by telling the reader what the individuals
did, how they lived, or what their background was. Historical writers help us imagine what the time period
was like. They immerse readers into a new world that they have painstakingly built for the reader’s benefit
and allow the reader to relive experiences during that far off time.
World building is the process of constructing an imaginary world and developing an imaginary setting with
coherent qualities such as history and geography. This is a key task for many historical writers. Attention
to detail can make or break the authenticity of a time and place. The world written about needs to make
sense to the reader.
Literary Elements In Historical Fiction:
• Characters: Can be based on real or imaginary individuals, but they would act appropriately for
the time period.
• Dialogue: Usually a few words or phrases from the time period should be used but realistically
you do not want to overwhelm your modern audience with terms and jargon they will not
• Setting: should be accurate and should allow the reader to immerse themselves into the world of
the time period
• Plot: Must also correspond to the time period.
• Conflict: Must correspond to the time period – mas vs society is a popular one for historical fiction
• Theme: Also needs to be taken into context. Loyalty, for example, means different things in
different cultures and different time periods.
Historical fiction stories often speak to the human condition at a particular point in time, thus they tend
to carry a great deal of social commentary regarding issues such as gender, class, race, etc. Injustices of
the time period tend to be highlighted in order to create an empathetic connection with the reader.