One Writer’s Journey

January 16, 2015

Writing about History

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:46 am
Tags: , , ,

researching historyWhether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, writing about history is fun and rewarding but it is also a ton of work.  There is so much research to do.  Before you consider your research done, try to do one or more of the following so that you can immerse your senses in the appropriate time and place.

Listen to music.  What did the music of that period sound like?  If I can, I try to listen to actual historic recordings.  Yes, they may have scratches and buzzes unlike the big band itself but they are the real deal.  The first place I stop to find recordings is the Library of Congress.  I’ve also found a wide variety of recordings on YouTube.  Sometimes the music is recorded as part of a newsreal or film but that leads perfectly into . . .

Watch movies, study paintings and check out other artifacts.  Can you find a film that was recorded in that time period?  Obviously that’s only going to work for more recent history.  What about museum displays or at least photos of artifacts?  You can also visit a museum or do a search to experience period appropriate art work.  Take in as many of the sights as you can.

Eat historic foods.  Locate historic recipes and give them a try.  You may be surprised at just how different some of them taste.  My son has fallen in love with a brown sugar pound cake that his great-great grandmother used to make.  That said, sometimes the surprise is less fabulous.  Roast grain coffee?  Oh, save me!  But when you write about these things remember that although sense of taste may not change, what is considered good does.

Play a historic game.  You also need to get a feel for the time.  Play a game that was popular during the appropriate period.  What does it feel like to roll a hoop, shoot a marble or throw a spear at a chunky stone?  Actually do these things before you write about them.

Immerse yourself in the time period and you will find that you have a wealth of authentic detail to share with your readers.

–SueBE

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2 Comments »

  1. Great idea, Sue! I do this a lot when I’m writing historical fiction especially. In fact, I just visited youtube to watch historic clips of cricket matches in the early 1900s for just this purpose.

    Comment by Xina Marie Uhl — January 16, 2015 @ 1:58 am | Reply

    • Xina Marie,
      Youtube is a treasure trove! I also look up old patterns (knitting, etc) and although I don’t make them I can see how they differ from the modern versions.
      –SueBE

      Comment by suebe — January 16, 2015 @ 5:27 pm | Reply


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