IS IT THE TRUTH, OR IS IT FICTION?

Researching is always a must for writers, but those who want to write about historical events, or place their fictional characters within a historical event, are going to be faced with the need for a ton of research. If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone willing to help you out there. If not, plan on spending quite a bit of time doing preliminary research before starting to write, then filling in the gaps during the writing process.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for researching, but it will take up a lot of your time, because it’s easy to get sidetracked. While there is a lot of good information out there, you must be very careful to check the sources for what you find on individual sites. Some are papers written by people who may not know as much as you about a given subject, so check it out with other sources. That’s never a bad idea anyway. If you haven’t done much work on the Net, it’s relatively easy. Type a search engine in, Google is good, then when it comes up simply type in your subject being as specific as you can. Google will do the rest.
Check out the Bibliographies in books you use for more information on a specific subject.
In writing history, non-fiction isn’t far removed from fiction, in that you want characters who will keep your reader interested in turning the pages. With few exceptions, readers want to relate to someone in their stories. A character with whom they can empathize is better than handing them a bunch of dry facts. Publishers also prefer that approach.
It helps if you have a background in writing true stories, that is, you’ve interviewed people and written their stories for newspaper or magazine articles, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. Good writers can all learn to slant their stories.
Slant your work to your audience. Keep your finger on the pulse of your readers and give them what they want in the way they want it. Readers of my weekly column want a lot of local history, names of those who took part, locations of sites such as cemeteries, old school houses, settlements. They like a little controversy so they can call me up or write a letter to the editor. I guess it keeps their juices flowing. In the paper I’m writing, mostly to an elderly audience, I have to keep them in mind when I write each story, yet make the column interesting for the younger ones. It’s a balancing act.
Do you want to write essays, thread interviews throughout your piece, or do you strictly want to find an era or happening and write about it as history? Decide what suits your style of writing best.
No matter which you choose, learn to speak directly to your readers. Learn to grab them up by the nape of the neck and drag them through the story so they can’t put it down until its finished. To do this you need what? Sympathetic characters to hold the story together, to enthrall and entrance your readers. Give them a picture with which they are already familiar and you can almost see them nodding as they read. Saying, ‘Yes, that’s exactly the way it was.’ Or, ‘I remember it another way, maybe I’d better call and tell her.’ In any case, you are getting them involved.
Today the author has many alternatives for getting his book in print, just be careful and investigate who you go with, especially if you pay up front. Check them here. Self publishing can work very well for you if you have a good, viable market. Check out POD very carefully, if that’s what you’re interested in. Make sure it won’t cost you more per book than you can possibly earn back. There is a charge for set-up, then each book costs so much. If it’s to be sold on the Internet consider the high cost of shipping as part of the cost of the book, and remember that most chain bookstores do not buy books except through a big distributor, usually Ingrams.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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