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Historical Fiction Writing - A Practical Guide and Tool-kit

Historical Fiction Writing - A Practical Guide and Tool-kit [Kindle Edition]

Myfanwy Cook , Bernard Knight
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Revised edition, featuring fully interactive table of contents, cross-referencing, links to external websites, downloadable resources, and content/formatting optimised for standard Kindle e-readers.

The purpose of this historical writers’ guide and tool-kit is to introduce aspiring historical fiction writers to the skills needed to write both historical novels and short stories. It also provides the opportunity for more experienced writers to revisit these skills, or make the transition from general to historical fiction writing. It is a step by step guide based on activities that provide an opportunity to practise and experiment with the skills and techniques needed to write authentic and satisfying historical fiction, which is both entertaining and engrossing.
This practical handbook is designed to be used sequentially, but as with any good ‘tool-kit’ each chapter is a complete entity designed to highlight a particular skill or purpose, or writing ‘tool’ that will enhance your writing skills. Each group of skills that you need has been grouped together under seven main headings. The activities in each chapter focus on one aspect of the craft of writing historical fiction and can be used independently to clarify a particular problem or to reinforce the techniques and suggestions you are introduced to in the chapter. The objective of this how to write creative fiction guide is to provide you with the tools that that you will need to write your own work of historical fiction in an historical subgenre of your choice such as historical crime fiction.
The tips and suggestions which have been generously contributed to this project sometimes complement and sometimes contradict the activities provided. They provide a fascinating glimpse into the way some of the most noteworthy and popular historical fiction writers and professionals within the field view their craft and the genre.
The activities are based on the innovative workshop activities designed and used successfully by Myfanwy Cook ( over the past 15 years. Myfanwy has had over one hundred short stories published both in the UK and Australia. She has won national prizes and had her stories broadcast on the radio. Currently she is features editor of the Historical Novel Society’s HNR magazine (
Myfanwy believes that mastering the art of writing is like becoming an apprentice. It is a craft and demands certain practical skills alongside imagination, creative flair, the desire to write and above all a love and commitment to writing. The workshops that she’s run have confirmed that what often holds aspiring writers back is their lack of confidence and fear that they lack certain practical skills such as how to write dialogue. What she is constantly amazed about is the richness of the imagination and the heartfelt aspiration to write historical fiction.
It is hoped that this guide book will fill in some of the gaps and act as a tool-kit to provide you the aspiring writer with some of the skills that you haven’t yet mastered, but also that you will find it an interesting and useful introduction to the historical fiction writing genre.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 631 KB
  • Print Length: 452 pages
  • Publisher: ActiveSprite Press; 1 edition (19 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004T5WOSI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #270,303 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy the Kindle, go for the print version 13 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase
I first reviewed this book in its Kindle version. It looked good; hands-on, bursting with practical exercises, excellent tips and guidance and supported by quotations and further 'bons mots' from published authors. A good eight pounds' worth, I thought. And what I have been able to read is excellent.

BUT, and it's a big one...

The production of the Kindle version was so shoddy it spoiled it: much of the data contained in template and example tables was missing; text disappeared mid-paragraph; from the context whole boxes in tables were missing; and titles for following sections appeared at the bottom of previous pages.

My advice is still: DO NOT buy the flawed Kindle edition.

I have now received a printed version. It's everything it promised to be; jam-packed with information, experience, practical advice and exercises, clearly set out in seven sections. The tone is approachable, yet loses nothing of its authority.

My advice on the PRINTED version? Persist and buy it.
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By Mum of the animals VINE VOICE
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This book does exactly what it promises - offers practical advice to writers of historical fiction.

Reading books about creative writing rather than doggedly producing the draft novel is a well-used diversion-tactic for me. I have hundreds on my bookcase - many unread. So I was skeptical about my motives for buying this one. After all I have an MA in History and suspected the guidance would repeat the obvious advice on writing a book combined with advice on how to research a historical topic which I already know.

I have skim-read about 50% of it and carried out the exercises in the first two chapters and am really impressed. It helped me assess the market in a interesting way and better understand the directions my novel needed to go in. Some of these were not obvious For instance, read historical fiction from separate three centuries to analyse how themes and styles change. Others were sensible, such as write c100 words on why you chose your period/event/theme/place/person (although only one of these was suggested I did a bit on each and felt much better for it) and ideal reader. There are forms you can download to complete the exercises and plenty of examples of 'model' answers so I did not feel lost or as if it was taking up too much time.

Alongside this were lists of useful websites, along with tips from existing authors.

What I like about the advice is that while it helps you pay attention to your market, commercialism never becomes the tail wagging the dog. Ultimately, it helps you the author, make a more informed judgement on whether what you write has a market.

I would certainly recommend it to everyone thinking about writing historical fiction but I think it outstrips many other books on how to write a novel so it could have wider appeal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New Kindle Version is Great! 10 Nov 2012
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The new e-book version is amazing! It has been especially designed for the Kindle users. It is now easy to search for references to other authors e.g. Bernard Cornwell, Bernard Knight etc. The layout of the activities makes it so straightforward to use. I'm most impressed."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, Interesting and easy to use 12 April 2014
By Mike - Published on
Verified Purchase
I was a little worried when I read the comments about editorial mistakes in the first review but I found no problems at all using my Kindle Fire HD.
It's very easy to navigate around the book and I tried the links to several sites (just to see if they worked); I was transferred quickly to each site then just pressed the 'back' arrow to return to my original page.
I haven't tried any of the practical exercises yet but tried downloading one or two of them to my Kindle, just to check, again no problem.
Content wise it's aimed at everyone from complete novices to more experienced writers who would like to change genre. There is a vast amount of information on topics such as researching settings, primary sources and historical accuracy. The practical activities, which seem very useful for newcomers to writing, give practice in description, characterisation, dialogue etc.
The aspect that makes this book different from other writing guides is the Tips Section: many of the top names in historical fiction have contributed advice and hints. There are also clickable links to their websites.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very useful when beginning a work of historical fiction 18 Mar 2014
By Tiffany - Published on
Verified Purchase
"Historical Fiction Writing" will probably be most useful for people who haven't yet started typing, not even an outline. The book contains many exercises that, again, are probably most useful in the very earliest stages of research and drafting. I found the "tips" sections to be most useful. Oddly, and ironically, the Kindle version of this book contains lots of irritating editorial errors. It would be great if the author would clean those up and update the e-book!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review of historical fiction writing 27 April 2014
By A SINGH - Published on
Verified Purchase
The book does not reflect detailed experience in this genre. Hence there is little practical advice and assistance to improve one's writing. This comparison may be unfair as it is made against established creative/narrative non-fiction writers like Lee Gutking, Hunter S Thomson, etc. I would not recommend this book as there are many more on narrative non-fiction writing that would better help in historical fiction.
4.0 out of 5 stars Covers all aspects of historical fiction 27 Aug 2014
By Steven P. Andrews - Published on
Verified Purchase
A bit heavy on writing exercises for my taste, but even the text of the exercises was informative. Especially enjoyed the extensive inclusion of tips from published authors.
3.0 out of 5 stars I would rated it higher but the Kindle version on ... 1 Oct 2014
By J. H. Petrescu - Published on
Verified Purchase
I would rated it higher but the Kindle version on my phone does not allow me to scroll down to see pages longer than what fits on the screen. Even in the smallest font.
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