How do you seamlessly incorporate history into a fictional account and make it seem authentic?
How do you keep readers engaged in a plot that’s taken from real life – in a story with a plot that’s already been decided?
Today I’m thrilled to welcome my good writerly friend and author of many fabulous books, Tania McCartney whose historical fiction story for kids, Caroline Chisolm, The Emigrants’ Friend has just been published by New Frontier.
Tania is visiting as part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of her beautiful new book, and she’s going to share some great writing tips.
Writing Tips – Writing Historical Faction
When writing Historical Faction—a cross between historical fact and fiction—the very best part of that writing journey is knowing this: fact is always stranger than fiction. Sometimes to the extreme. And don’t kids love ‘extreme’?
History in itself is a fascinating trip, but adding your own creative ‘embellishment’ via the faction genre is an enormous amount of fun.
Here are my tips on writing faction that resonates with kids.
- Don’t just tell their story—get to know your character. Get inside their head. This is easy to do if you research effectively and pursue a variety of sources. Letters, newspaper articles and journals (those your character wrote or those which speak directly of your character) will allow you to easily convey their ‘voice’—even their tone, mannerisms and way of thinking.
- Don’t underestimate the power of visuals for inspiration. Photographs, paintings, portraits and film of your character or the world they lived in, are all priceless ways to more authentically depict scenes, dialogue, clothing and mood. Kids aren’t immune to authenticity.
- Even when writing for the very young, use appropriate terminology and vocabulary for dialogue. This not only sets the tone for the book’s scenes, it helps children learn and understand another time more effectively. It also fascinates them. Don’t ever underestimate a child’s ability to comprehend words by context and association. This profoundly enriches their knowledge, but also syntax and vocabulary.
- Choose subject matter (if you have that luxury) that interests you in some way. Although most historical figures become fascinating to write about as the research process unfolds, you’re more likely to become ‘closer’ to your character if you feel an affection for them or their work. This will show in your storytelling.
- As you research, seek out the parts of your subject matter that will resonate with the age group you are writing for. Look for quirky, interesting morsels that will delight, intrigue, shock or enlighten your reader, even if they don’t really seem that interesting to you. This will ensure reader engagement, and it will make the intent of your work far more effective.
I must admit that I’ve always thought of Caroline Chisolm as “the woman on the five dollar note.” I never really thought about how she came to be there, or what her life was like.
Tania McCartney’s book, Caroline Chisolm, The Emigrant’s Friend took me into Caroline’s world and left me with new admiration for this compassionate and resilient pioneer.
I was so carried along with Caroline’s story that I forgot this was actually a true account of someone’s life.
Tania recreates Caroline’s world for us in such an authentic way. She enables the reader to feel Caroline’s losses, and to celebrate her triumphs.
This is such a great way for kids to learn about Caroline Chisolm’s life and the 19th century in which she lived.
The text is complemented by Pat Reynold’s beautiful full colour illustrations which accurately represent the life and times of Caroline Chisolm.
Caroline Chisolm, The Emigrant’s Friend is a far cry from the text books I was used to. Readers can learn so much about history from this book without even realising it.
Caroline Chisolm, The Emigrant’s Friend truly brings history to life.
Caroline Chisholm Blog Tour
Tania and Caroline’s cyber tour is visiting these great blogs:
Monday 30 September
Giveaway – Kids’ Book Review
Review – Kids’ Book Review
Author Interview – Dianne Bates, Writing for Children
Writing Historical Faction – Pass It On
Researching Sweet Caroline – Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog
Tuesday 1 October
Review + Five Historical Faction Writing Tips – DeeScribe
Review – Elaine Ouston Blog
The Coolest People in Australian History – Soup Blog
Author Interview – My Book Corner
Wednesday 2 October
Review – HerCanberra
Author Interview – Buzz Words
Review – Alison Reynolds
Blog Tour Wrap-Up – Tania McCartney’s Blog