Because it happened: How not to write historical fiction

Cryssa Bazos

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When I started writing the first dirty draft of Traitor’s Knot, I was so focused on the details of the events, that I often neglected the human reaction to the drama. It’s understandable given that there is so much pressure to get the historical facts nailed. Historical fiction writers have the advantage of knowing what happened to their subjects, but sometimes that knowledge blunts the suspense.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem for other genres, with perhaps the exception of memoire. Science fiction and fantasy–your imagination defines what or what doesn’t happen. Contemporary or romance, ditto. Thrillers? You guys are the boss for keeping us guessing! But historical fiction writers are slaves to the set-in-stone historical record and too often we concentrate more on the facts.

I’ll give you an example of this from that first raw draft. The historical facts: Following the Battle of Worcester, King Charles II…

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