Historic Fiction

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard an editor say “I don’t want historic fiction” or “historic fiction is a hard sell.”  

Editors say things like this for a variety of reasons.

  • Research.  Historic fiction requires a phenomenal amount of research.  Not everyone is willing to put the effort into this important step and they look into only what they need to include — clothing, food and a few key phrases.
  • Info dump.  Historic fiction requires a phenomenal amount of research.  After doing this much work, some writers try to work each and every fact into their story whether it needs to be there or not.  Their work reads like a whose who of whatever time period.
  • Surface realities only.  Most people know a little bit about history.  Good historic fiction goes beyond this.  Bad historic fiction repeats the same realities that we’ve heard in every other story.  It never digs any deeper.
  • Any time, any place.  These stories could really take place now.  Or 20 years ago.  Or 100.  The time period is irrelevant.

When editors say they don’t want historic fiction, they don’t mean books like The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni.  To read more about this, see my post tomorrow on the Muffin, because this book does it all right.