Creating A Sense Of Place In Historical Novels, by Jane Johnson

Great advice. Personally, depending upon the time a story is set in, I, as a reader, have a tendacy to skim over the setting details. If the story is set in a time period I’m familiar with, I do that but if it’s a new place, say post-Roman Empire/early Dark Ages England, I pay more attention.

Writing Historical Novels

The past is another country, goes the old saying. But what if you’re writing about the past IN another country? Or in two or three other countries? Or using different time frames for different story strands? I’ve done all this in my previous novels: talk about making a stick to beat your own back with…

Creating a sense of place is absolutely crucial in historical fiction: you have to work harder in this sort of novel than in almost any other (apart from fantasy, with which historical fiction has many parallels) to make your reader see through your eyes.

You can’t rely on a shared world view, because none of us has actually visited the seventeenth century – or if we have, reincarnation has left our memories hazy. It’s not like telling the reader that your character went to the supermarket or caught the bus to work: we all have…

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