Why Genealogy Has Anything to do With Writing Historical Fiction

Okay, so I tend to geek out on family history – and not just my own. But why talk about it on a blog geared to writing historical fiction? What does one have to do with the other?Photographs red

While researching genealogy, I’ve discovered some wonderful nuggets of history which seeded good ideas for fiction. Go back a bit into anyone’s family, and you’ll be amazed at the stories you find. And sometimes the best nuggets for fiction ideas stem from something you stumble upon while researching. Old newspaper archives are great for this, but so to are court documents. Many small towns had biographies written, especially late 19th or early in the 20th century, on their important families, and these can be goldmines – both for your own family’s history and ideas for fiction.

Photographs are landmines for an explosive story idea: troll through the time frames you wish to write about on Pinterest and see what all you come up with, even if your favored setting was way before the advent of photography. EyeMinatureThis brings up odd trends in history, such as the fashion during the regency era of carrying a miniature painting of just the eyes of a secret lover or the more gruesome trend in the Victorian era of photographing children placed with their deceased mother, covered by fabric and positioned as a chair. Bizarre? Yes. True? Also yes. Hard to use in romance but a great thing to know if you write historical horror or suspense.

If you are stuck on what to write about simply search the timeframe of interest to you. It can suck a lot of time but, in terms of finding unexpected ideas can be oh so beneficial in the end.

3 thoughts on “Why Genealogy Has Anything to do With Writing Historical Fiction”

  1. Through my genealogical research, I have discover that Mark Twain was correct, “Truth is stranger than fiction…” Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried! 🙂

    1. Exactly! Some of it is in my own family and some I just come upon as my research continues, but it’s always thought-provoking!

      I see on your blog you have Williams and Harwick in your family line, as do I, though mine are largely from Oxfordshire (going back into the 1500s). A cousin of mine lived in Europe for a time and did much research while he was there. I would love to go and visit places where my ancestors lived and hope to make the journey some day.

      I like how you have written your family tree in description form, rather than the tree forms favored on many genealogy sites – much more pleasing to the eye.

      1. Thank you for the compliment, Linda! I so glad that you appreciate how I am trying to tell my ancestors’ tales.

        I have enjoyed your blog posts too… very conversational and welcoming.

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