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Friday, August 8, 2014

Writing: Know your history

Strahov Monastery - photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
When you write non-fiction, it is important to have your facts straight. Being able to reference historical information to support your writing is essential. If you're writing about the future of publishing, be able to discuss publishing's past. If you're writing about a CEO's rise to power, give credit to events in that person's youth that put her where she is today. If you want to be considered an expert on molecular biology, reflect on the various people and theories that make up what the science is today.

But if you are writing fiction, history is meaningless, right? Let's leave out the obvious historical fiction and modern adventure/thrillers that rely on knowing past events. Would you still need history to create an epic fantasy that takes place in a fantasy realm, like J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit? Or how about a grand work of science fiction like Frank Herbert's Dune? Neither novel takes place on Earth, or in a time that we know, so is history all that important?