This coming November, I’ll be leading an afternoon workshop on how to research for historical fiction as part of the Write in the Harbor conference, hosted by Tacoma Community College’s Gig Harbor campus in Washington’s Puget Sound.
Longtime fans and friends will know that I’ve written about researching for fiction and have led similar workshops in the past. My session is on November 3, during the pre-conference , and will offer a rundown of my guidelines for researching. And while I do focus on historical fiction, the guidelines are easily applicable to any form of fiction. But I’m also introducing some practical exercises in the workshop, and we’ll do a little writing while we’re at it. Most importantly, I’m hoping we’ll all have a bit of fun!
The gist, for anyone interested in registering, is this: As with most fiction, selling a story to a reader relies on precise, believable details, and these are especially important when some of those details are historical fact. But our primary goal in fiction should always be to tell a compelling story, and research can often sidetrack us or weigh down our story with too many details. So, based on my experience writing historical fiction, I’ll be discussing process-related advice such as when to reach out to experts in a story’s subject matter, what are our most important resources in researching for fiction, why writers should sometimes ignore the research and just get creative, and when to stop researching and just write.
We’ll also learn practical fact-finding and writing exercises like letting geography guide our narrative, putting period-appropriate objects to in our characters’ hands to give them something to do in our stories, using important period-appropriate language to add realism to our storytelling, and weaving all these historical details seamlessly into our narrative.
Through these guidelines and exercises, folks who register for my workshop will learn how to quickly find precise, effective historical details that will lend stories authenticity and then — most importantly — get writers back to their writing!
Of course, I’m not the only show in town. The conference — both the Friday pre-conference and the Saturday main conference — has a lot to offer area writers! A keynote from mystery and horror novelist J.A. Jance; workshops on poetry, character development, scene work, genre writing, memoir, publishing, and literary business plans; an on-site bookstore; and more!
So I hope folks in the Puget Sound area — or in the Pacific Northwest in general, because the Puget Sound is reachable by car or transit from just about anywhere in the region — will come out and enjoy the conference. And I hope you’ll spread the word, too.