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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2016 > Fiction focus: Truth or dare

Fiction focus: Truth or dare

Making things up is a novelist’s job, but writers of historical fiction need to make it credible for their readers, says

Did it really happen?

As a historical novelist, I’ve been asked that question several times, and quite often the answer is no: I made a lot of it up.

A novelist is supposed to tell the truth about the human condition. But, when it comes to telling the truth about historical events, should the author be under oath? I’d say it depends on what kind of historical novel the author wants to write. I’d add that provided you can make your reader believe while this reader is actually reading, and if you can make everything sound authentic, and if you don’t disgust your reader by letting this reader assume you got something wrong because you were just plain ignorant, you can say anything you like.

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About Writing Magazine

FREE 2016 Competition supplement: Win £400,388 in over 250 writing competitions • The bigger prize: Why comps are good for you , win or lose • Beat the Brontës: Explore Charlotte's style and try your hand in our special competition • How to: Craft credible historical fiction Use humour in your writing Learn from the short story masters • Star interview with TV scriptwriter Sally Wainwright, Bafta-winning author of Happy Valley

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