Margie Lawson

Changing your Writing World

The Art and Science of Historical Research

When writing historical fiction, the research aspect can be overwhelming. Do you dread it— find it dry and boring— or do you love it--but get caught up in the unique “finds” and neglect the more obvious points? Most likely it is a combination of both.

I see historical research as both science (systemized knowledge) and art (aesthetic and subjective creation). A combing of systemized knowledge for facts related to your story as well as seeking and incorporating the interesting and unusual to color your story. But the task is often daunting. We need to find, organize and use our research.

In this class we will explore resources—both traditional and unusual—for historical research as well as consider how to use historical fact for more than just description of our characters or their world. We will focus on categories of resources that will yield benefits for all time periods and give assignments to help you begin to find the information you need. We will also discuss ways to organize your research so that you can actually use it!

Whether you are at the beginning of your research or trying to flesh out a manuscript already written, your story can benefit from a closer look at both the art and science of historical research.

What You Will Learn

  • Research for resources
  • Use traditional research resources
  • Discover and mine untraditional research resources
  • Organize your research to be useable
  • Infuse history into every aspect of your novel: plot, character, description


Anne Mateer

Anne Mateer has loved the marriage of history and fiction since she first began reading. Armed with a B.A. in history from Southern Methodist University, she has authored four traditionally published historical novels, including one Carol Award finalist. This past September, she published her first indie historical novella, No Small Storm, with another scheduled to release late spring. Anne is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers’ League of Texas, and Historical Novel Society. She enjoys helping other writers through freelance editing, judging writing contests, and teaching online classes. Anne and her husband, Jeff, enjoy reading, exploring historical sites and historical homes, and visiting their grown children—and granddaughter!—in Texas and Massachusetts. Anne and Jeff are currently living their empty nest adventure in a high rise condo in Austin, Texas.



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