How I Approach Setting In My Historical Novels, by Kathleen Benner Duble

In working on my own research for my novel, it’s nice to see I’m on the right path with information gathering. Lots and lots of binders and printouts!

Writing Historical Novels

Plot, characterization and dialogue are important components of any fiction book but, for historical fiction, setting may be one of the most crucial elements in your story. Setting should become like a character on its own, with all its attendant complications and depths.

So how do you make a setting vivid for your readers?

Before I begin any historical novel, I cut out or copy pictures of the setting my characters will inhabit. For Phantoms in the Snow, my novel about a group of skiing soldiers who fought in World War 2, I found pictures of their base in Colorado, of their training grounds in the mountains, and of Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere where they fought the Germans in Italy.  I made a folder of these pictures and referred to them frequently when writing my novel. When I was writing Quest, my novel about Henry Hudson’s last ill‐fated journey, I kept a picture…

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