Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Writing Historical Fiction Part 2: Finding story ideas is one benefit of doing historical research

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A few years ago I was taking a graduate level course in Mexican history and ran onto the perfect idea for a historical novel set in 1785-86 in the region which became New Mexico and involved a Spanish governor, Juan Baptista de Anza, and the Comanche Indians.

I realized that de Anza displayed an understanding of the Comanche people and genuinely sought to work out a peace agreement with them that was fair to both the Spanish settlers and the Comanches. For a period of years (something like a decade or two, perhaps), a serious peace and stability came to that region.

Realizing how very different that was to most European-Native American encounters, I thought it would make a setting for a great historical novel. I’m still trying to get back to that historical setting and those people to do something with it.

The lesson here for you is this: If you dig into history and do some reading about a time, place, or people who interest you, there’s no limit to the background material and character information you’ll find for creating fiction. The next post in this series will deal with some resources you can use of historical research to help you find those seeds for a story.
[tags]historical fiction, using historical research for story ideas, advice for new writers, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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