Historical Fiction

Elements of Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction will focus on characters, plot, setting, theme, events, problems, that mirror real life. It based on real life historical events, but some characters may never have existed. The setting is a previous historical time and place.
Historical Fiction

Quality Characteristics

  • There is a mixture of real and fictional events. Significant historical events are historically accurate, but minor events and/or charaters may be added or modified.

  • Characters are involved in a conflict or problem that is real (or mirrors life) for that time period

  • Uses descriptive writing that digs into characters making them interesting and are easy to identify with.

  • Intriguing plot that creates some sort of suspense.

  • Plot makes sense and has a solution.

  • Historically authentic setting that sets the tone for the story.

  • Is in a real place and a definite period of time in history that the reader wants to know more about.


  • Characters are ordinary real people who did or could have lived in the historical setting.

  • Characters are usually shaped by the setting.

  • Characters usually change as a result of the problem and must to be able to resolve it.


  • Place is a particular historical geographical location.

  • Time is a particular historical period.


  • Must be plausable and believable.

  • Usually problem or puzzling event is a result of the time or place in history for characters to resolve.

  • Reader/listener usually feel that the story really happened or could have happened.
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  • Themes usually fit with a historical context or can have conflicting contexts between historically different views.

  • Themes are related to life, people, social, political events as well as good versus bad/evil.


  • Author usually uses foreshadowing or clues to tease the reader/listener's curiosity.

  • Some events include historical events, dialogue, period thoughts, historical accurate, but not all information is authentic. Characters and dialog if made up needs to fit the historical aspects.

  • Dialog, artifacts, feelings, are from the real world and described accurately.

  • The story must be told with significant detail to place the reader/listener in the historical setting


  • Feel that it really happened. Children will often ask if it was real and be disappointed when told, no.

  • The reader/listener feels he or she experienced the historical setting and situation.

Point of View

  • Could be any.

  • Often third person narrative.


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