January 9, 2019

How I Research My Historical Novels

By Laura Frantz, author of A Bound Heart

Writing fiction is daunting for many but writing historical fiction is especially so. How is it possible to leave our 21st-century mindset and reverse a century or more to create authentic characters in a time period we have only imagined, at best?

When I decide on a certain setting for a novel, I try to visit that historic site if possible. In the case of A Bound Heart, I took 3 trips to Scotland at different times and seasons. I wanted to set foot on the very ground my characters would soon walk though kilted and wrapped in plaid shawls, not yoga pants and Skechers.

Next, I begin to get a feel for what was happening in the year the novel opens, in this case 1752. What was stirring politically? Socially? What was being invented? Fashionable? Discarded or outdated? Who were the movers and shakers of the time period? What foods were being eaten? Books being read? Plays being acted?

I also read as many primary source letters and diaries from that century to get a feel for the language of the time period. I create a word list and include phrases that were common back then. I check the origin of words I’m unsure about to avoid anachronisms.

I enjoy hunting down the most recently published books, both fiction and nonfiction, that have to do with what I’m writing. I take handwritten notes and start a Word file of character names, plot lines, scraps of conversation I might use.     

When I feel I have a better grasp of the above, I begin that first chapter. From the first paragraph my goal is to write a scene that is richly sensory and historic. It’s crucial to start off with a pivotal happening for my heroine or hero, a sort of cliffhanger chapter that keeps the reader turning pages and anticipating what might happen in chapter two.

Most of all, I pray myself through the process. People often ask how to write a book. I honestly say I don’t know but the Lord does. He’s the true creative source. Ten books later, I’m forever grateful.
Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. According to Publishers Weekly, "Frantz has done her historical homework." With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Readers can find Laura Frantz at  Author Website: Author Social Media Links:

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