Pitfalls and Strengths of Historical Fiction

By Sophia White

Time-travel, with or without the use of machines, has been a growing theme in fiction in the last century. It corresponds in many ways to a longing almost all of us have felt at one time or another: a longing to go back to another time, whether to escape the troubles that are pressing us now, or to enjoy a “simpler” life, or to experience history first-hand. But while actual time travel may not be a possibility in our lifetimes, books offer us the opportunity to travel to other worlds, and works of historical fiction offer a safe passage to time travel to former times. pitfallsandstrengthspost

Historical fiction is a story set in a real, past time and featuring some event or character that really was. A story that says “set during the American Civil War” but which makes no mention of the war, slavery, Conscription, major battles, or President Lincoln does not count –– it’s more like fantasy.

What makes historical fiction such a good genre to read (and to write)? One obvious advantage is the ability to learn history through the eyes, as it were, of contemporaries of the time in which the book is set (even if the point-of-view character is mostly fictional), without the bore of textbooks. One can learn all sorts of things in settings which make the knowledge seem crucial –– a teacher’s explanation that the weather was bad on a certain day in the early spring of 1064 probably sounds meaningless in class, but when one is reading a book set just before the Norman Conquest, the knowledge takes on importance to all of England.

History, when no longer a chore to be slogged through in a certain amount of time and quizzed on, becomes something interesting and fascinating, with endless rabbit trails to research and chase to their remote ends. Did you know that the Vikings sometimes ate whale, but not often, due to the danger involved in catching them? That carrots in eleventh-century England were purple, not orange? Or what happened to William and Matilda’s fourth daughter, or didn’t they have one after all? (Hint: the last one is still unanswered.) [Read more…]

KP Critiques – 30

With overwhelming delight we are proud to be presenting you with the 30th installment of KP Critiques!! We enjoy all of the effort and willingness from each and every one of you who has participated. We know the great courage it took for you to submit your work to scrutiny and we thank you abundantly! Keep ’em coming! We love your critique submissions. Even if you’ve already sent one in, don’t hesitate to submit another one!  tobelieve1

Thank you Faith for providing us with this stellar submission! 

 

Get him!” they yelled. Seth tugged on the strap of his backpack as he raced through the dark alley. Determination set on his dark eyes. He was not going back, not this time.

As he climbed over a short metal fence, his mind raced. Surely by now, they should just give up. They weren’t his friends. They didn’t need him. He had done his job, and now he wanted nothing more to do with it all.

Seth stopped and leaned against a wall. He was trapped. The alley stopped abruptly in front of a tall brick building.

I’m a bit confused about the geography of this.  So he’s in an alley, he climbs over a fence, and then he’s still in an alley?  I could use a bit more description about where he’s at.  Leaning against a wall also seems like a strange move; it seems like standing and panting at the end of the alley would be the more natural choice to make. 

He could hear the men’s voices getting louder. His chest heaved as he searched for any place to hide. [Read more…]

How to Research Historical Fiction

How many of us have shied away from historical fiction because of research? Hand raises. Yes, it is a terrifying part of the process. Your biggest fear? That history buff reading your book with a disgusted face at your gall to say they used gold spoons in the Jamestown fort.

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I have been a part of a debate team this past school year. The bulk of the work on the team is research. Tons and tons of research. I personally have always loved researching. Fact finding is like treasure hunting for me. So over the school year I have had way too much experience at research. Which leads me to be able to share with you all some simple steps to attack the terrifying monster we call research.

 1. Pick Your Topic

Simple enough, right? Start very broad. Are you writing in the Biblical era, Revolutionary war, Great Depression? For example, let’s go with World War II. Great, we have a topic! World War II went on from 1939 to 1945. So now we have a time period to go off of. This may seem too basic, but trust me: you need to start as far out as possible. The next step is where we go in depth.

2. Mind Map

Now we get to start making our categories to research. If you already know how to mind map, you are good to go to the next step.  This process is easy to do in a notebook, or you could use a resource like mindmeister.com. Begin with listing your topic in the middle of the page. Then start listing some basic subcategories surrounding your topic. For World War II, I started by surrounding it with the topics: Cause of war, countries involved, aftermath. From these three subcategories, I began writing smaller categories connected to them. For example, Countries involved: America, England, France, Germany, Japan, Italy… [Read more…]

Meet the Kingdom Pen Team

MeettheKPTeamThumb

Some of you may have been following Kingdom Pen for several months, some of you may have been following us for several years, and the majority of you probably fall somewhere in the middle, but either way, you may be wondering who this quasi-elusive KP team is (unless you’ve been stalking our ‘meet the staff’ pages) and may be wondering what all we do here in our various roles at Kingdom Pen.  Well, if you have been asking yourself some of these questions (or even if you haven’t), we met at a staff retreat back in January, and during that time ended up shooting a video about who we are and what all of us do. While Grace unfortunately couldn’t be there, the rest of us are, so if you’re interested in hearing more about us and what we do, make sure to check out the video below!  And we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXRUuxasoKQ

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Doestoevsky

You don’t need to read that much into the book to learn what its plot is: it’s a story about a Russian axe-murderer who kills an old lady who runs a pawnshop seemingly for money and afterwards tries to hide what he did from the authorities.  It’s a shocking premise, and yet the depth and complexity of this book has made it a lasting member in the list of the classics, as well as being perhaps one of the greatest Christian novels of all time. c&ppinterest

Since the murder of the old woman happens within the first sixth of the book, the whole rest of the book is focused on the mind of the murderer, Raskolnikov, and this is where the full genius and depth of the book really comes in.  When Doestoevsky initially wrote this book, he told his publisher that he intended it to be the psychological account of a crime that was committed by a young man who “had submitted to strange ‘incomplete’ ideas which float on the wind,” and that certainly comes out.  Crime and Punishment explores the complexities of human psychology within the mind of a murderer like few other books do and portrays rather keenly how destructive a vice pride really is.

What is perhaps most interesting about the book from a literary perspective is its use of foil characters.  Foil characters are minor characters who are similar to the main character in many ways—but who also have major differences that end up having a lot of relevance in the overall scope of the book.  In Crime and Punishment, Doestoevsky uses a plethora of foil characters to show the readers different examples of who Raskolnikov could turn out to be depending on the choices he makes.  Is he going to become like one of his noble friends, or one of his less savory acquaintances?  The book makes for an interesting study of foil characters, so if you’re a fiction writer looking to make more use of them in your story, this is a good book to study. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Critiques – 29

We are so delighted to be presenting you with our twenty-ninth installment of KP Critiques!! All of you amazing subscribers who have submitted your work for us to critique, THANK YOU!!! Through your courage you have provided us with substantial material, as well as aided in sharing wisdom to fellow writers. Receiving constructive criticism is never easy, but it’s necessary to grow as a writer!  annassavanna

So please continue flooding us with your wonderful critiques!

Thank you Tessa for this awesome submission!

Have you ever wanted to say that you have owned the weirdest pet in the world? A pet that no one else has owned before? A pet that makes people envy you? I have. I am a typical teenager living in a typical flat in a typical city. Boring. My name is Anna. Boring. I have straight brown hair. Boring. And nothing exciting ever happens to me. But one day that all changed.

I get what you’re trying to do here, but the repetition of boring here and then usual below is a bit much.  I recommend cutting out most of them and trying to work it in a subtler way.

One day my Dad came home from work and sat down on the couch. Usual. He picked up the paper lying on the arm beside him. Usual. But he didn’t open it, just stared off into the distance. Ok, not usual. Mum didn’t notice anything wrong until we were seated at the dinner table eating spaghetti bolognese. That is, Mum and I were. Dad just pushed it round his plate. Finally Mum realized something was up. She looked up at Dad. She looked down at the food. She looked back up at Dad. [Read more…]

Is Fiction Inherently Worse Than Nonfiction?

A couple months ago, I came across an article from a semi-popular Christian blogger whom I generally respect in which she was explaining why she no longer read fiction.  While she enjoyed some fiction, as she explained it, nonfiction was simply more applicable to real life because it actually had information on real life, and for that and other reasons related to the lack of morality in a lot of modern fiction, she had simply stopped reading fiction. fictionvsnonfictionpinterest

The idea that non-fiction is inherently better than fiction is hardly an idea that I’ve encountered several times, sometimes by bloggers writing on the internet, and sometimes by other people in my life who don’t understand why I devote as much time to fiction as I do.  Often it’s presented like it was in the article before:

Why read stories about untrue things when instead you could read stories about life how it actually is? 

Within Christian circles, it can sometimes be set as a matter of holiness.  What’s the value in reading a fantasy novel about mythical creatures and ungodly magic , when instead you could be reading a theological work that would be bettering your spiritual life?  But the arguments aren’t always articulated.  Sometimes, people may not raise any verbal objections to fiction—but they show with their actions and reading choices that they simply have no use for fiction in their life because of these reasons.

In this article, I’d like to defend fictional works against the charge that they are less real, less useful, or less transformative than non-fictional works like biography, history, or theology.  While many may read fiction just for enjoyment and without any thought to these categories, the best fiction is the kind that is both enjoyable and useful.  And so, without any further ado, let’s examine the value of fiction.

1. Fiction is as Real as Non-Fiction

This point may seem to be hard-sell at first.  After all, given that non-fiction is about the world as it actually is, how could fiction be just as real under these categories?  To be sure, if we’re defining ‘real’ as giving us propositional truths about the world that we live in, fiction can’t win in that race.  However, this prompts the question about what is truly real.

Many today believe that the physical world is the most real world that we have.  However, this is a rather novel development in the scope of human history.  While they have disagreed about the nature of the spiritual world, most philosophers and theologians before the 1600’s tended to believe that there was a spiritual world that was more real than the physical world that we live in.  In other words, there are eternal concepts such as justice, goodness, or beauty that are more real than the individual cases we often see of them on the earth.

This is what led Aristotle, a Greek philosopher living over 2,000 years ago, to argue that literature (or poetry, as it was known back then) was closer to reality than the world we lived in.  In his Poetics, he argued that

“Poetry is more philosophical and more significant than history, for poetry is more concerned with the universal, and history more with the individual.”

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Christian Imagination

by Leland Ryken

Looking for a book that takes a deep look into how our Christian faith should integrate into our practice of writing?  I read this book two years ago and it has already become pretty much my go-to source on the different questions that I wrestle with concerning this topic. ChristianImagination

In this book, Ryken has put together a collection of essays that address many different aspects of writing: from what a Christian philosophy of literature is, to why Christian fiction can become weak, to how Christians should portray evil, and even how to write good poetry.  Each of the ten parts of the book have several long essays on the given topic, a couple shorter parts of longer essays, and most also end with a collection of quotes from different writers concerning the topic, leading to a look at these issues that manages to be both wide and deep. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Win a FREE Book Cover Design!

Hello Kingdom Pen!ElisabethPerryGiveawayPinterest

 

We’re so excited to bring you this wonderful opportunity, courtesy of Perry Elizabeth Design! They have agreed to give away their Basic eBook cover design package! Find out below how to enter the giveaway.

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Perry Elizabeth Design is made-up of a young husband and wife team, Tyler and Perry, who began their business in 2012. If you haven’t checked out their website, you need to right now. They make incredible and affordable designs for writers and novelists just like you!

Not only do they offer book cover designs, but they also offer to format your book for you, while also offering a host of other design services, from web-design to T-shirts. This is the place to go if you want affordable designs.

When it comes to self-publishing, you have to do everything. You have to be your own editor, proof-reader, and designer while also handling promotion and sales on your own as well. Make things a little easier on yourself and have your design and formatting needs taken care of by Tyler and Perry, who are also both Indie authors themselves.

 

To enter the give away to potentially win the Basic ebook cover design from Perry Elizabeth Design, do at least one of the several entry options listed in the below giveaway. The more you do, the better your odds of winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Prayer of an Author

By Lauryn Trimmer

prayerofanauthorpost

Dear God,

Thank you for making me able to write

Words that grow into stories.

Even though whether or not they are good stories remains questionable,

(The answer being almost positively no,)

Thank you for my efforts anyway.

Bless my family while they attempt to tolerate

The unexplained shouts of anger coming from my room

As my villain grows too villainous for my hero’s health. [Read more…]