by Tim Bridwell
author of SOPHRONIA L. (Folded Word 2014)
What is Historical Fiction?
Historical fiction should be historical in terms of setting, but fiction first and foremost. Though actual historical figures often inhabit its pages, historical fiction is not historical biography. The writer should not rely on the story’s historical context to do any of the work for them: There are no substitutes for flesh and blood characters, palpable settings, and a plot that transports us.
Throughout our lives we have been taught to associate historical facts with names, places, and dates. For example if you read the name “Mahatma Gandhi,” the setting “Hiroshima,” or the date “September 11, 2001,” it is likely you will already have a set of images in your mind for each, and perhaps some sort of emotional response.
In this flash fiction exercise, I’ve tried to take easily identifiable characters, locales, and dates out of the story — along with the preconceptions associated with them. The aim is to give the reader a chance to discover the historical context afresh, to envision the characters and settings that you have created, and to ultimately gain a greater insight on the historical event.
*A note about flash fiction:
There are many opinions on what flash fiction should be. Here is my version of the basics:
Submit 1 flash fiction (written as responses to this exercise) in the contact form below by 15 May 2015. I will choose my favorite three. The selected stories will be posted on this blog and the writers will receive a free copy of my book SOPHRONIA L. (US residents will receive a print copy, non-US residents will receive an e-copy.) In addition, JS Graustein (Folded Word’s Editor in Chief) will randomly select one story for a mini-critique by the editorial staff.
Results will be announced on this blog Wednesday, 24 June 2015.
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