One Quick and Easy Way to Research for Historical Fiction Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.15.05 PM

When you were a kid did you love history?

If you were like me you nodded off in history class. I found it so boring! Now that I’m much older I love history, but because I didn’t pay attention in class I’m often embarrassed at my lack of knowledge about the World War I era, or the early 1900’s, or any other part of history.

Today I love to read historical fiction because I learn about different time periods in characters’ lives.  The latest historical fiction novel I read was Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Invention of Wings. (I highly recommend it. What a masterpiece!) I learned about a woman I never knew existed–a woman in American history who struggled for liberation, empowerment, and expression of women’s rights.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.32.19 PM

Author Tracy Higley writes historical fiction about different parts of the world too. At the Montrose Writer’s Conference she shared an idea that helps her. She reads upper elementary historical fiction or nonfiction to incite ideas. Isn’t that a great idea? She claims that these books include the high points of the era and often show pictures, which help to spur her creativity.

Once Tracy has a grasp of the time period she’s working on, she reads high school and college level text books next. She makes a binder, collects pictures–even wedding photos from that era, and calls the binder her Bible of research for that book.

This is such a simple idea, but one that could have an outstanding overall affect on the final novel.

I love this idea and plan on reading elementary books in the children’s section of the library soon–just to learn. I have a lot of history to catch up on. Maybe it’ll spur a novel idea too!

Do you write historical fiction, and if so, how do you research the era?



Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address:


  1. I enjoyed reading biographies as a kid but did not have good history teachers even through high school. Then in univ. I had a great one and got hoked. Now I love it & it’s one of the subject areas I teach. My tools are usually wide library reading, online digging, local investigation, and when possible, talking to fascinating oldtimers, reading their diaries and records, etc.

    • Hi Delores – I think of you as a historical fiction author. Your ways of doing research sound fun.

      I love the idea of talking to old-timers. One of my to-do list author ideas is to have weekly visits to our nearby nursing home so I can establish relationships with the elderly and learn about their stories. I’m not sure when I’m going to get to this “idea,” but I know when I can find the time I’ll love spending time with them and listening to their stories.

      Have a blessed Sunday!

Please share your random thoughts.


Thank you for stopping by!