In this 4-week intensive, Robert Morgan Fisher explore the current trends in Historical Fiction. We examine several different novels and stories set in the near or distant past. We talk about inspiration, conceptualization, execution, research—we’ll cover a lot ground in a short period.
Part of the fun in reading certain types of Historical Fiction is the inclusion of authentic detail—but it’s all too easy to go overboard with research and overload a story with excessive minutiae. In this four-week course we’ll examine novels and short stories story by masters of the form. We’ll explore and discuss, among other things, how each author’s restraint in using detail actually improves the experience for the reader and strengthens the heart of the story.
Whether you’re in the middle of writing a Historical Fiction piece, have a completed manuscript or are just starting out, this course will help you identify the pitfalls.
- Familiarize ourselves with the Historical Fiction market by comparing authors and titles.
- Participants will incorporate what is learned in the first three weeks into whatever fiction project they’re working on or plan to begin.
- Articulation of concept and roadmap for writing and/or revision.
WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER
Each week includes two (2) one-hour group Zoom Sessions as well as ongoing online discussion threads.
(NOTE: It helps if you’ve read the books and stories—but it’s not required. At the very least you can look some of them up on Wikipedia or elsewhere online. Some stories may have hyperlinks).
Week 1: Case Study/Comparison: The Civil War
- Comparison of several Civil War Era best-sellers with attention to—
- Common literary devices used for Historical Fiction.
- The Case for Ambiguity or, A Refreshing Lack of Specifics.
- The best period pieces or historical novels are actually about today—they may be set several hundred years in the past, but they resonate off contemporary experience.
- Research: Historical details—or even accuracy—should always take a back seat to compelling story and characters. Historical Fiction often has a timeless feel, the story almost mythological.
Week 2: Case Study/Comparison: JFK
- Comparison of two JFK-related books, using the same points cited in Week One.
- The canonization of certain historical events and how to sidestep controversy.
Week 3: Historical Short Stories
- Comparison of different authorial approaches.
- The Outlier Story: Enhancing a contemporary collection with a story set in another era.
Week 4: Individual Project Pitches, Evaluations and Group Discussion
- Personal Zoom conferences with participants to discuss their projects.
- How Does This World Work? Before commencing any Historical Fiction project, a writer needs to set the ground rules for exactly what details they’re going to allow and withhold.
- Final group Zoom conference where participants can share/pitch their pieces with the rest of the class.
ABOUT ROBERT MORGAN FISHER
Robert Morgan Fisher won the 2018 Chester Himes Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the 2019 John Steinbeck Award. His fiction and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Pleiades, Storyscape Journal, Teach. Write., The Wild Word, The Arkansas Review, Red Wheelbarrow, The Missouri Review Soundbooth Podcast, Dime Show Review, 0-Dark-Thirty, The Huffington Post, Psychopomp, The Seattle Review, The Spry Literary Journal, 34th Parallel, The Journal of Microliterature, Spindrift, The Rumpus, Bluerailroad and many other publications. He’s written for TV, radio and film. Robert holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and is currently on the teaching faculty of Antioch University Santa Barbara. Since 2016, Robert has led the UCLA Wordcommandos, an acclaimed twice-weekly writing workshop for veterans with PTSD. He often writes companion songs to his short stories. Both his music and fiction have won many awards. Robert also voices audiobooks. (www.robertmorganfisher.com)
“As a recent graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, I engaged Robert Morgan Fisher as a writing coach/editor to help polish and expand my short story collection about a modern Jewish family. He suggested something completely unexpected: to add a story set in 19th century Eastern Europe. Under his guidance, I successfully researched this historic piece and crafted the descriptions, situations, characters and language to bring the past alive with contemporary echoes. This was truly a stretch for me, one that never would have happened without Robert’s teaching and inspiration.”