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What IS an IS NOT Historical Fiction

What IS an IS NOT Historical FictionPresently, the trend in popular televisions series and films are plots that make history come alive.

For example, the award-winning HBO series Boardwalk Empire focuses on the early 20’s with the rise of the Mobs (Italian, Jewish and Irish) through bootlegging caused by the Volstead Act, plugging in historical events as they arise within the story. The popular History Channel Vikings series also takes great pains to authenticate the Viking time period in Norway. The attention to detail makes the unique people and history come alive. In our recent past, two Borgia historical series looked at a specific corrupt Catholic Pope’s reign in 1497, and The Tudors popular series was based on King Henry VIII’s reign

CAUTION… for historical readers, writers, and directors.

They need to understand the difference between a historical biography which is truth, supposedly, and historical fiction which is historically mostly true. This viewpoint has a big impact on how you approach historical fiction. I find when writing historical fiction many readers want the story to do more than it is supposed to do: be totally true which would then be a documentary or biography.

For example, the movie Argo is historical fiction, which is mostly true with a literary license to create a fictional ending. It is important that the viewer or reader understands that historical fiction is mostly true but not all true. When writing historical fiction, however, the audience or readers want it to be historically accurate as much as possible. The above noted movies and television series are key examples of what our readers and viewers expect.

Read more posts by E.K. Prescott, Ph.D, educator and author of The Ivy League Chronicles. Dr. Prescott