Fictional stories are an escape from our everyday lives. Many people dream of living in another place or in the past, which we can only achieve through reading books. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because it plunges you into a new and unknown world where you are able to experience life through someone else’s shoes. Historical fiction is a genre that retells past events through fictional stories and characters. Authors will incorporate historical figures or events into their stories and create an authentic story for their characters. There is a debate on how large the distance must be between the time the story was written and the time the event happened but most people agree it is within 25-50 years. Regardless of the time difference, there must be a considerable difference between the event and the story.
There are six main components of historical fiction. The first and arguably the most important component are the characters. Characters in historical fiction can be real people or completely fictional but they must act appropriately for their time period. Most aspects of historical fiction are accurate in order to depict the story in an explicit manner.
Dialogue is also a crucial part of this genre as dialects change throughout history but it is important that the reader can still understand the author. Many authors introduce a few new phrases and words but often match the vernacular of the current time period.
Others might argue that setting is the most valuable component of any story because it transforms the story and transports the reader to a different era. Setting is crucial to historical fiction particularly, as it is the time period that defines this genre.
The next element is plot, which also relates to the historical atmosphere of the story. Often important historical events will shape the plot through their significance. Important people can often influence the plot as well through their admirable personalities.
This intertwines with the final element- conflict. Conflict is also based on both the setting and the characters as important battles often occur due to the value or placement of the land. Characters might have arguments as well which can be directly related to their strong personas and historical significance.
Historical fiction is an intriguing way to learn about the past through deep and developed character experiences. The characters and setting are often written in a detailed and relatable way that resonates with large audiences.
Here are some of my favorite examples of historical fiction:
- A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- The Watsons go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan