I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is H is for History.
History can be a wonderful source of inspiration.
Who hasn’t dreamed of going back to another place and time in history? Reading and writing about it is the next best thing. There are plenty of people who have done this before, so to stand apart from the crowd, it helps to approach it from a unique angle.
During my 30-day digital detox in January, I limited my streaming to one Netflix program each day. With the extra time before going to sleep, I read books to my husband. One of the series we read was The Jack Turner Suspense Series. In the first book of the series, When Night Comes, Turner, a WWII expert is lecturing at his old college while working on a book. He finds himself going back in time in his dreams. The writing is superb and for such a far-fetched premise, it’s pulled off with ease. Dan Walsh manages to combine historical fiction with suspense, romance, and mystery. This got me thinking about how with the right inspiration, you can come up with something original and engaging.
History has long been sparking the imagination of writers and artists. Consider the tall tales of Paul Bunyan. James MacGillivray heard stories of the giant woodsman while working in a Michigan logging camp. A few years later, he published a version of one of the tall tales he entitled, “The Round River Drive” (Detroit News-Tribune, July 24, 1910). Over time, stories of Paul and his blue ox, Babe, spread across the upper Midwest of the United States. He became the subject of children’s cartoons, advertising campaigns, and debate. Where was Paul really born? He was even the subject of poems by poets as famous as Shel Silverstein, Carl Sandburg, and Robert Frost. And don’t forget—Paul Bunyan is a fictional character! He was inspired by history—by the men who carved their way through the nation’s woods. The things those men saw and wondered about around evening campfires formed a man bigger than life. All it took was someone to write those ideas down.
Be inspired by History!
The key to getting historical fiction and historically inspired writing right is to fully understand the time and setting. The details must be right for it to not feel contrived. What did people wear? What were speech patterns like? Obviously you don’t have to have people speaking a different language, but certainly, try to keep things historically believable.
By surrounding yourself with history, you will gain a curiosity about other times and places. Read books, watch films (especially documentaries) and explore museums. When something tickles your creative bone, take notes and daydream about some of the blanks in the history books that your imagination can fill in.
Historical fiction is popular with all generations
When my daughters were little, they loved the Wishbone series http://amzn.to/2r1jQSq of books and videos. Wishbone is a dog that finds himself in classic books and historical events.
As teenagers, they all read The Book Thief, a book/film that uses the Nazis and the 1933 book burnings in Germany, to tell a story that is so heartbreaking and touching at the same time.
My husband’s favorite historical fiction author is Gilbert Morris. He writes historical fiction as well as Biblical-historical fiction in epic saga form.
History doesn’t need to be hundreds of years ago.
The cultural revolutions of the sixties and seventies can inspire a story. So can the history in which you are living. Sometimes that will come out as a dystopian piece, a commentary on some frightening aspect of where we are going as a society. My favorite dystopian book is The Giver.
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What are YOUR thoughts?
I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!
I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.
I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.