My Favourite Genre

8 Mar 2014 Ruth L Snyder

Ben_tnsMy favourite genre (to read and write) is historical fiction. My fascination with this genre was more than likely cultivated by the many missionary biographies I read as a child. I loved “visiting” different cultures and learning spiritual lessons along with the main characters. Historical fiction provides the same opportunities, but the main character may or may not be a person of faith. The main difference between these two genres is that biographies are non-fiction and historical fiction is, of course, fiction. Both biographies and historical fiction usually focus on a time period at least twenty-five years before the current time.

Dictionary.com defines historical fiction as:

“the genre of literature, film, etc., comprising narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.”
Wikipedia adds:
“Historical fiction presents a story that takes place during a notable period in history, and often during a significant event in that period. Setting usually takes priority in a work of historical fiction, and the author should be making some sort of statement or observation about the period where and/or when the work is taking place. Historical fiction often presents events from the point of view of fictional characters of that time period. Events portrayed in historical fiction must adhere to the laws of nature.”
Some people may think that because a story is fiction, not much research is required. This is absolutely false, at least if you want a realistic story. In order to write powerful historical fiction, you not only need an interesting plot and a believable main character, but you also need to know about the food, clothing, houses, careers/work, and expectations of the specific era you’re writing about. There’s nothing worse for a reader than being “yanked” out of the story by details that are inaccurate. For example, if your story takes place in the early 1900s, no seat belts would be used since seat belts were not installed in vehicles until the late 1950’s.
When we write historical fiction, we are able to use actual historical events as the backdrop for our story and create our own scenes and “extras” to make the story come alive. Some of the people in our story may be actual historical figures (as long as we represent them accurately), but other characters will be fictional. For example, the backdrop of my work in progress, Olga’s Discovery, is the invention and controversial introduction of birth control.
Some of my favourite authors and books in this genre are:
  • The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
  • The Zion Chronicles (series) by Brock and Bodie Thoene
  • Snapshots in History (series) by Murray Pura
  • Heirs of Acadia (series) by Isabella and T. Davis Bunn
  • In the Shadow of the Mountain (series) by Clint Kelly
What’s your favourite genre, and why? I look forward to hearing from you.
NOTE: This is the 5th post in a blog hop I’m hosting for writers. If you’d like to participate or want to read about other authors’ favourite genres, click on the link below.
Blog Hop for Writers

30 thoughts on “My Favourite Genre

  1. Bonnie Way

    I’m also a big fan of historical fiction, though in attempting to write it, I’m gaining a much deeper appreciation for my favourite historical fiction authors. 🙂 I also really like The Last Sin Eater and The Zion Chronicles. Thanks for sharing and hosting!

    1. Ruth L. Snyder

      I enjoyed your post, Tracy, and am enjoying the diversity of genres you’re tackling as a writer. I think it’s healthy to have a broad base. Although historical fiction is my favourite, it’s definitely not the only genre I read or write. I enjoy suspense, mystery, romance, and memoir as well.

  2. Sara Davison

    Nicely done, Ruth. Although I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, I did also love the Zion Chronicles. I also really liked the series by Liz Curtis Higgs based on the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel. And everything by Francine Rivers. Hmm, maybe I’m more of a fan than I thought 🙂

  3. 2unpublishedgirls

    I’ve always wanted to get into historical fiction, but for some reason I can’t. Even though the time periods and different cultures interest me. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right one yet.

    -RB

  4. stephseclecticinterests

    I have read some historical fiction I really enjoyed, but I discovered from the definition you quoted why it isn’t my go-to genre. I am relationship-driven in life, so am character-driven in the fiction I’m drawn to. Since historical fiction is very much about the details, sometimes I find it info overload. Things are becoming clearer. 🙂

    1. Ruth L. Snyder

      That’s an interesting insight, Steph. I prefer fiction with strong characters too, and often I find myself jumping over the details, but I do enjoy learning about history this way.

    2. stephseclecticinterests

      Beautiful language, like that in the Lord of the Rings series, demands to be read aloud. That’s probably another reason I stick to works focused more on the characters than painting a detailed picture. Maybe I should start to read aloud. It’s only me, my daughter, the dog, and the guinea pigs here during the day. 🙂

  5. Ruth L. Snyder

    Reading out loud adds a whole new dimension. I’ve discovered that as I’ve read many books out loud to children. We usually read a missionary biography to our children at bed time. I pay more attention to writing style when I read out loud. Hmm, interesting thoughts, Steph 🙂

  6. Bobbie Cole

    I love reading historical fiction, the escapism of entering a different world, living through perhaps actual historical events. And I like to write it too because I love research. I love creating worlds. I was once told in a writing class that, if we want to write about a historical time, there has to be a valid reason. This is correct, I think. It’s important that the story you’re telling could only take place in the historical setting you give it – otherwise why not write it as contemporary fiction?

    1. Ruth L. Snyder

      Bobbi, thanks for the reminder about the valid reason for the historical setting. You’re right. The plot cannot be one that would work just as well in today’s setting.
      Thanks for stopping by and for participating in the blog hop 🙂

  7. Janet Sketchley

    I look forward to Olga’s Discovery when it’s ready…

    I don’t read a lot of historical fan, but agree with you, Ruth, about The Last Sin Eater.

    My favourites are Christine Lindsay’s Twilight of the British Raj series and Heather Day Gilbert’s God’s Daughter. And Susan Young de Biagi’s Cibou.

    Stephanie — try these, especially the last two… definitely relationship-centred. Not that you need more in the to-read pile!

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