5 Historical Fiction Pitfalls from Margo Dill at WOW Women on Writing

A good article from Margo L Dill

I have included a few bullets here, but please, go and read her article for yourself at


5 Historical Fiction Pitfalls

  • Pitfall #1: Poor research

Bring the time period to life.

Research, using primary sources (diaries, journals, newspapers), historical societies, and experts.

  • Pitfall #2: Too much history in the text

Don’t bore the reader with all the history you can fit into the text. Don’t include it if doesn’t pertain to your story or slows down the action.

  • Pitfall #3: Dialogue or voice sound phony

People didn’t speak formally in the past. They had their slang too. Watch a few movies set in your time period to see to how the characters speak to one another.

Don’t have one character call the other by his/her name all the time, and don’t start sentences with Well…” (I am guilty of both of these.)

Pitfall #4: Setting isn’t specific enough to show where the story takes place

. “Choose sights, sounds, and smells that reflect that ambiance” of the location.

What makes your setting unique?

  • Pitfall #5: Today’s world creeps into your story

http://www.etymonline.com/ is a good resource to find out when something came into existence.

Look at all the details of your story from how your characters dress, to what they eat, to how they spend their free time. Make sure you research what was popular during your time period; and if you don’t know, do more research or ask an expert. Ask about everyday life details