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THE PASTis a DIFFERENT PLACE

FICTION FOCUS

Historical fiction –should we tell it as itused to be? Or evenapproximately as itused to be?

It can be quite tricky, writing aboutthe past – about periods in historywhen we weren’t alive ourselves butin which we somehow feel at home.But, however much we feel at home,some of the time we’ll still be merelyguessing how it must have felt tobe living without electric lighting,without antibiotics and without basicsanitation, even if the people in ournovels aren’t aware such things exist– or, even if they do know but haveno access to these things themselves.Our ancestors had their own waysof coping, as we do today, whenuniversal free wifi and cures for allcancers are still distant dreams.

My own children can barelyremember a past in which therewere no personal computers, noDVDs and no mobile phones, whenshops in the high street didn’t openon Sundays, when making a longdistance phone call on a landline wasan expensive luxury, and when theycouldn’t email or text their friends.

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Make this the month you make your dreams real and start becoming a writer in the Get Serious issue, with advice on: • How a change of attitude will help you, and the wider world, take your writing seriously • How to stay motivated past the difficult mid-novel slump • Money matters: Are you charging enough for your freelance writing? PLUS How to make sense of your royalty statements Cover star Jake Arnott tells us about finding the stories and characters that society overlooks and we explore the style and technique of forensic crime superstar Patricia Cornwell Get your work out there with opportunities to get published and competitions with more than £60,000 total prize money in 20 packed pages of Writers' News. All this plus our definitive guide to writing festivals, courses and other events for 2017
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