GET STARTED IN HISTORICAL FICTION: WORKSHOP SERIES
Introducing the series…
Get started in historical fiction is a series of online workshops designed to help you start writing historical fiction. There are three workshops in total, each covering a different aspect of getting started in historical fiction. You can pick and choose which workshops you want to take, or you can take all three!
Each workshop lasts six weeks and consists of a series of assignments, all of which are assessed by a tutor. As you tackle the assignments and receive expert feedback, you’ll move closer to achieving the objective of each workshop. All assignments are accompanied by a help sheet with useful tips. You’ll be able to ask your tutor questions as you go along, and you’ll get final feedback at the end. As the workshops are online, you can participate from anywhere in the world.
The current round of workshops began on 4 November 2019 and will end on 4 May 2020.
Below, you’ll find details on each workshop, information about the tutors, and an FAQ section. There’s a booking section towards the bottom of the page when you’re ready to book.
Workshop one: Get started
What is it?
Workshop one focuses on building the fundamental skills you need to start writing historical fiction, including creating a historical setting while balancing history vs. story, writing historical dialogue, creating tension, using ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and more. At the end, you’ll have some of the most critical skills you need to start writing historical fiction.
Who is it for?
This workshop is ideal for people who want to start writing historical fiction and are looking for a structured way to build the necessary skills. You may not have written anything yet and are looking for a way to get started. You may have started already but aren’t sure whether you’re getting it right. Either way, this workshop aims to help you start writing with confidence.
Week one: Bringing historical settings to life
Your first assignment will be to use a real historical source as inspiration for creating a fictional setting. You’ll learn to immerse the reader in your writing by creating an authentic sense of every-day life while balancing history with story.
Week two: Writing historical dialogue
In assignment two, we’ll show you how to rewrite modern-sounding and overly stilted dialogue to make it more natural and appropriate to your chosen historical era, while still being intelligible to the modern reader. This is a crucial skill for any historical fiction writer.
Week three: Internal thought
Assignment three focuses on internal thought. You’ll learn how to format it and how to use it to enhance the reader’s understanding of your characters.
Week four: Show and tell
In your fourth assignment, you’ll use a combination of ‘show’ and ‘tell’ to depict a character’s feelings. You’ll learn how to do both and how to strike the right balance between them.
Week five: Using viewpoint
Assignment five introduces you to different viewpoints and shows you how they can be used to build tension. Your task will be to rewrite a scene from an alternative viewpoint, using the features of that viewpoint to your advantage.
Week six: Drivers of plot – creating conflict, mystery, and suspense
For assignment six, you’ll learn to use three of the key drivers of plot – conflict, mystery, and suspense. Your task will be to create an engaging scene using all three.
The deadline for booking this workshop has now passed.
Workshop two: Outline your novel
What is it?
Workshop two guides you through the process of creating a detailed outline for your historical novel, including plot, setting, theme, characters, and chapters. Your tutor will provide feedback and assistance every step of the way. At the end, the objective is for you to have a complete novel outline.
Who is it for?
This workshop is for people who have an idea for a historical novel and are ready to turn it into an actionable plan. Whether this is your first attempt at an outline, or whether you’ve already started one and are looking to revise it in a structured way with feedback, this workshop is for you.
Week one: Summarise your plot
In your first assignment, you’ll outline your plot in stages, starting with a big-picture, one sentence summary and finishing with a more detailed full page summary.
Week two: Outline your setting and themes
For assignment two, you’ll outline the key aspects of your setting, including locations and relevant historical background. You will also outline your themes.
Week three: Profile your main characters
Assignment three focuses on your main characters. Using our character profile template, you’ll profile your three main characters or all of your point of view characters, depending on your narrative structure.
Week four: Profile your secondary characters
Assignment four focuses on secondary characters. Using our character profile template, you’ll profile your key secondary characters.
Week five: Summarise your chapters
In assignment five, you’ll turn your plot outline into a provisional list of chapters, creating short summaries for each.
Week six: Complete your outline
In assignment six, you’ll bring all the different parts of your novel outline together, edit and revise them, and submit the finished version for final feedback.
The deadline for booking this workshop has now passed.
Workshop three: Write your first chapter
What is it?
Workshop three guides you through the process of writing the first chapter of your historical novel. Your tutor will provide feedback and assistance every step of the way. At the end, the objective is for you to have a complete first chapter.
Who is it for?
This workshop is for people who want to start writing the first chapter of their historical novel. Taking that first step can feel daunting, but this workshop will walk you through it and provide you with the support and feedback you need.
Workshop three will begin on 23 March 2020 and finish on 4 May 2020. There will be assignments in weeks one, two, three, and five.
Week one: Plan your first chapter
For assignment one, you’ll plan your first chapter, using our checklist to ensure it contains the key elements necessary to hook your reader.
Week two: Write your opening lines
For your second assignment, you’ll write your opening lines. You’ll learn how to grab your reader’s attention by starting your story the right way.
Week three: Write your first draft
For assignment three, you’ll have two weeks to write an initial first draft of your first chapter. You may or may not reach the end, but the aim is to produce a draft that you can receive feedback on and then revise and complete.
Week five: Revise and complete your draft
For your fourth assignment, you’ll have two weeks to revise and complete your draft. You’ll then submit it for final feedback from your tutor.
This workshop costs £197 GBP or $249 USD. The deadline for booking your place is 16 March 2020, 2pm GMT. Places are limited, so do book early to avoid disappointment.
About your tutors
You’ll be assigned one of the following expert tutors for your workshop before it begins.
Andrew is the founder and executive editor of The History Quill. A graduate of Cambridge University, where he studied history, he spent nearly a decade working in the world of politics and international affairs before happily giving it up to pursue his real passion: historical fiction. He’s previously lived and worked all over the world, including in the United States, Belgium, Cameroon, and Botswana, but he now lives in London, UK.
Trained in book publishing at NYU and Oxford Brookes University, Kahina has honed her writing and editing skills while living on three different continents. Originally from the USA but now based in the UK, she enjoys work that indulges two of her deepest passions: story structure and history. She has completed professional courses in both content editing and copy-editing.
Barbara is a content editor, creative writing teacher, and former BBC journalist. She holds a PhD in creative writing and is programme leader for creative writing at the Open College of the Arts. She lives in Berwick upon Tweed, England.
To book your place on workshop three, select it below, plus your preferred payment currency. You’ll then be taken through to the main booking form.
Frequently asked questions
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What are the eligibility requirements?
The programme is for historical fiction writers or those interested in writing historical fiction. Historical fantasy writers are very welcome, too. Most sub-genres are fine, but we won’t accept erotic fiction or any children’s fiction below Middle Grade level. Middle Grade and above is very welcome.
The programme is carried out in English, so you’ll need to be able to write and communicate proficiently in English. You’ll also need to be at least 18 years old and over – as is the case for all of our programmes and services.
We do reserve the right to make other exclusions on a case-by-case basis.
Before each workshop begins, we will check that you meet the eligibility requirements. If you do not, we reserve the right to refund your payment and cancel your place.
Do you accept international applicants?
Of course! The programme is entirely online, so you can live anywhere in the world. You’ll be able to pay in either GBP or USD. Payments in other currencies will be converted to either GBP or USD as part of the payment process, depending on your preference.
How do I book? Is there an application process?
The workshops are not selective, so there’s no application process. You can book via the form on this page.
When's the booking deadline?
The booking deadline for each workshop is one week before it begins. That’s 28 October 2019 for workshop one, 13 January 2020 for workshop two, and 16 March 2020 for workshop three.
Should I book the workshops I'm interested in all at once or wait until later?
Since each workshop has its own booking deadline, you can wait before booking additional workshops if you want. However, places are limited, so we do advise booking early to avoid disappointment.
Who will be my tutor?
Your tutor will be assigned to you before each workshop begins. If you have a strong preference for which tutor you would like, let us know after you’ve booked and we’ll do our best to accommodate your preference.
Will I be part of a group or working alone?
Although others will also be taking part in the same workshops, this is a form of structured one-to-one coaching, so there’s no group environment.
What's the time commitment?
The workshops are designed to be completed in your spare time and should fit well around work and other commitments. They’re a little bit more intensive than our group coaching programme, but they’re also shorter.
What happens after I book?
Your place will be reserved on your chosen workshop/s. You’ll receive email confirmation of this, followed by a welcome email where you’ll have the opportunity to reply with any questions. You’ll receive an introductory email from your tutor one week before the workshop/s begin.
Will I have to be available at certain times of the day?
No. There’s no requirement to be available at any particular time or to be in any particular time zone. You’ll complete the assignments in your own time, allowing you to participate around your schedule, no matter which time zone you’re in.
How will I submit my assignments?
Over email directly to your tutor.
How long will I have to complete each assignment?
One week for most assignments. The only exceptions are the assignments in weeks three and five of workshop three, for which you have two weeks.
What if I'm late completing an assignment?
Besides the assignments and feedback, what other support will I receive?
What if I'm away/on holiday for part of a workshop?
If you’ll be away as a one-off for a reasonable length of time, we’ll ordinarily still provide feedback on any late assignments, provided they are not more than two or three weeks late. Feedback may take longer than normal, however, especially if it falls during a holiday period.
What if I change my mind or I have to leave the workshop early?
You’ll have a 14-day window to change your mind after booking, during which you can cancel and receive a full refund, unless the workshop has already started, in which case the value of the work will be deducted from any refund. After this 14-day window has ended, you can withdraw at any time, but we won’t be able to provide a refund.
How do I pay?
The default payment method will be via our PayPal payment gateway, which will enable you to pay via credit or debit card.
What are the full terms and conditions?
You can view the full terms and conditions via the links below. You will be asked to review them and agree to them during the booking process. Terms and conditions for each workshop will be amalgamated if you book more than one at the same time.
If you have any additional questions, or if you want to discuss whether the workshops would be right for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.