Sep 13, 2013

September Genreflecting: Historical Fiction: The Details

Genreflecting wordle

Based on the Collins English Dictionary, a subgenre is "a category that is a subdivision of a larger genre." (Source) Historical Fiction can be divided many different ways depending upon the reader's focus. There really is something for everyone in this genre.

Many people like to read books about specific time periods. Considering the length of man's written history, there are a multitude of options ranging from indigenous peoples in pre-colonization eras, the Industrial Revolution, the 1960s, & even wartime (which one, I'll let you decide). Each period has distinct characteristics that attract certain readers & allow them to more fully enjoy the plot. It can add a lot of texture and meaning to the story depending on the characters' actions in particular time periods.

Another way to divide this genre is by location. England in the 1850s would be completely different than the United States in the 1850s which would be even more different from the indigenous people of the Amazon Rain Forest during the 1850s. To quote The Doctor, "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff." (IMDB) That's how I feel about how these events transpire. When we think of the timing of events, we tend to put things chronologically to organize them, even if they had/have no effect on one another. That's what I love about location-based historical fiction, it's like getting 2 books in one: another place and another time.

Ann Rinaldi has some great words about writing the fiction in historical fiction.

Where in your novels does the history end and the fiction begin?
" I will only invent in history when history doesn't provide information...only when I run into a brick wall in research." I include in my novels an Author's Note which clarifies verifiable fact from personal creation. I look at gaps in recorded history as a challenge and an opportunity to create character."

Have you ever received any backlash for your depiction of history?
"No. I recognize that there is a definite risk involved in creating a personality/childhood/feelings for a historical figure. However, one must take risks in life. I never contradict documented fact and always note what is my own invention."

Be sure to check back next Friday when I review Lyddie by Katherine Paterson.

1 comment:


Thanks for sharing I've been looking for something just like this.