– This is a quick post with some tips and advice on writing historically accurate dialogue. This question is asked frequently and I’ve given some advice I get asked for a lot. I hope this helps you all out there, though it is a bit more general. Happy writing!
Familiarize Yourself With The Time-Period
- Read books from the time period you’re portraying in your story.
- Watch movies, read plays, etc. and you’ll pick up some patterns, words, and phrases.
- The #1 way writers learn is reading.
- Research the history of the words you want to use.
Pay Close Attention To The Details
- Keep the dialogue short, as to not confuse the reader.
- Use your words carefully and don’t overdo dated language.
- Clarity is more important than historical accuracy.
- Syntax is everything.
- Use historically iconic phrases (sparingly and with caution).
Historical Text vs. Historical Fiction
- Your reader didn’t sign up to read Shakespeare.
- They’re aware that you’re from modern day and they will forgive you for using modern language.
- Keep in mind the purpose of including this historically accurate language. You want it to feel authentic, but not clunky and convoluted.
- Be cautious of going to extremes to make your characters sound accurate and give up the actual meaning of what they’re saying to do so.
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