August 23, 2021

Are You a Detective?

Susan Reichert

I have been doing some research in my ancestry lines and have come to appreciate the authors who write historical fiction. Why? Well, they must do research, a lot of it, if they are going to use history in their stories.

So why the question, “Are You a Detective”? Because you must dig out and follow clues. Remember, writing historical fiction is writing truth and creating a story to go with it even characters and dialogue, settings, plots, it is definitely hard work and a balancing act. In other words, they are telling a true story but using a creative license. When you use real events as your backdrop, it can make it easier to develop the story. Remember, when writing historical fiction, the main consideration for the writer is to make sure of the authenticity as well as the historical accuracy.

Some authors create a fictional character and base it on a real person or they take an interesting historical episode and use elements of it in their stories.

One thing a writer wants to make sure of is to learn about the period they are writing their story in, and what happened in that period. Make a list of things you need to know and search for that information. The more information you have, the more you will have to use to weave into your story.

Don’t become overwhelmed. Remember, you are not a historian. As a writer you use your imagination to fill in the gaps. That is true even with dialogue. There is no way for you to know what a person said, but that is when we use imagination. When we are filling in the gap, we must make sure our interpretation is believable.

I do suggest when researching that you take a lot of notes. Make sure you write down where you got the information, who wrote it, and a website if there is one. Cross referencing helps to weed out errors.

To reconstruct a past historical event and tell it in a fictional story is exciting; especially if you love history.

Most of us have heard our parents, or grandparents tell us stories of their past and as kids found it interesting. My great uncle on my mother’s side, ran away from home when he was young and traveled out west and became a cowboy. Hearing that story as a child I was mesmerized. I heard about him going on cattle drives, being with the calvary at a powwow with the Indians. He told of the unbelievable cold weather in Wyoming Territory (he was from the South) and the stories of how the cattle ranchers didn’t like the sheep ranchers.

Hearing that story, if I were an historical author, I could research and probably write a fiction story on what I remembered him telling me and combining all the research. Perhaps somewhere in me is a little bit of detective, right?

The thing is, how will you know if you don’t try!

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. She is the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own. Susan is a member of the DAR and a member of the First Families of Mississippi

Visit Susan at: , Amazon -

1 comment:

  1. If I ever decide to write historicals set in the early 1900s, I have many stories from my mother-in-law who was born in 1900. She told stories of the depression and about the first time she ever saw an automobile. Scared her to death and she ran and hid under the house.
    Love your post and would have loved to hear your great uncle's stories!