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How to use history to make your writing more realistic and less fairytale-like

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How to use history to make your writing more realistic and less fairytale-like

In all genres, even in fantasy, inspiration is taken from reality. Sure there may be fire-breathing dragons, but those dragons have a history and a provenance that made them the way they are. Your writing cannot live in the air, it needs reality. And to make your writing more realistic you can use something that is right in front of you, our reality. More specifically, our history.

The history, not just of a country, but of the entire world, contains ideas for whatever you want to write. There are kings ousted from their thrones, evil queens and good queens, bloody revolts, dreadful epidemics. Revolts that save millions.

Anything good or bad has happened in history and we are often lucky enough to know the details.

Personally, I don’t waste anything when it comes to inspiration for my book and history has helped me a lot in my writing. It would be a shame to throw away all that valuable information, so in this article I will explain exactly how to write realistic details in your book using world history.

Here are two articles that will help you make your writing (Characters) more realistic

7 Tips for Writing Stronger, More Realistic Characters

5 Ways to Make Your Characters More Realistic

Study the manipulative techniques that have been used on various peoples by dictators

This is one of my favourites. It is known that there are countless dictators scattered throughout history, unfortunately power-hungry people have always existed.

We writers, however, can use this fact in our favour.

How many times have you read about some royalty or manipulative government in a book?

I can already think of four books.

This is because the great powers are often the enemies of our stories, very much like reality I would say, and so they too have to play mind games to keep the people at bay.

Here, these manipulative tricks that you have to make your villains use, you don’t have to invent them and risk being unrealistic.

Dictators have used plenty of them and you can easily find them by reading their history.

Here are some examples of manipulation of the people:

  • Lying about the amount of deaths, famines and even train delays. Dictators always take over the main media and only pass on the good things, the bad are buried.
  • Turning the people against themselves. This is a classic, if you use a sacrificial victim, often a different ethnic group, the people will be too busy to notice who the real problem is.
  • Use fear. A weapon much loved by all governments past and present. If you can make the people believe that something completely harmless can hurt them, they will die blindly following your commands, believing they are actually saving themselves.

These are the main ones but many are still used today, if you pay attention maybe you will not only improve your writing but also become more aware.

Study the people’s reaction to change

Changes always upset the population. Even if they turn out to be positive, while they happen they NEVER seem so. That is why the people in your book must also feel these emotions.

They are real and their lives are changing forever.

Let their anxiety, trepidation, fear shine through in a few details. Even a simple teddy bear abandoned in a street with its doors locked can say a lot about the mood felt at the moment. Use the details to your advantage.

Understand how a person reacts to various manipulation techniques
I have told you about the manipulation techniques that have been used throughout history to trigger wars and conflicts. And they have succeeded.

Despite this, not all people react in the same way to government manipulation.

There will be those who believe it blindly, without question, because they trust those in power.

There will be those who are scared but have some doubts and try to investigate.

And there will also be those who do not believe it, and from there, rebel groups are born.

Government secrets

Study what triggers a war and what they use as an excuse to cover up the real reason.

It is very difficult for people outside the government to get important information. And the reasons why wars break out are no less. Remember that the people NEVER know everything the government does.

So what excuse will the government use to justify war? Will it fake an external attack and say that others attacked first? Will it kill an important person and pretend it was an accident?

Decide what it will tell the people and also decide what the real reason is, which will naturally come out at the right time.

Give the right feelings to the people

In reality, when the government does something that hurts the people, before anyone rebels there is a sense of helplessness and defeat.

How do you deal with an invisible enemy that is much more powerful than you?

That is the question your protagonists have to ask themselves. And you have to make them feel the excruciating anguish of not knowing where to start.

The before is as important as the while

Make use of the real feelings felt in history.

Real revolutions do not happen overnight and neither should the ones in your book. All people who have experienced a revolution or a war say you could feel it in the air.

The power of what was about to happen. The feeling of something about to be unleashed, that will change things forever.

Make your characters feel restless, notice the small protests before the disaster.

MAKE your writing more REALISTIC
and less fairytale-like

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