Writing Historical Non-Fiction: Tips for Research and Writing

Writing nonfiction about a historical event can seem overwhelming at first. However, with careful planning and research, it can be a rewarding and captivating process. To write an engaging nonfiction historical book, writers often spend a significant amount of time researching their subject matter. They must then find creative ways to present the information in an interesting and captivating way. Whether you’re self-publishing or working with a major publishing house, the following tips will provide you with a step-by-step approach to writing historical non-fiction that will keep readers hooked.

What Is Historical Non-fiction?

Historical non-fiction is writing about real things that happened in the past. It’s a broad category that includes literary nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and creative nonfiction, among others. Many popular books, like biographies of famous people, fall into this category. As a nonfiction writer, you should read and do research to come up with ideas for your own book. 

Researching Historical Non-fiction

Researching historical non-fiction can be a challenging but rewarding process. To write a compelling historical nonfiction book, writers must dive deep into the past to uncover important details and events. Here is some pointer to help you research effectively:

Start with secondary sources: Begin by reading books, articles, and other secondary sources about your topic. This will give you an overview of the subject matter and help you identify areas that require further research.

Use primary sources: Primary sources are original documents, photographs, and other artifacts that provide first-hand information about the past. These sources can include letters, diaries, newspapers, and government records. Primary sources can offer valuable insights into the time period you are writing about, so be sure to include them in your research.

Conduct interviews: If possible, try to interview people who lived through the event or time period you are writing about. These personal accounts can add depth and authenticity to your writing.

Visit historical sites: Visiting historical sites can provide a sense of place and help you visualize the events you are writing about. You can also gather information from museum exhibits and other displays.

Fact-check everything: Always fact-check your research to ensure accuracy. Use reputable sources and cross-check information from multiple sources to confirm accuracy.

Organize your research: Keep track of your research using notes, outlines, or other organizational tools. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t miss important details.

How to Write Historical Non-fiction

Writing historical non-fiction can be a thrilling adventure that transports readers back in time. To start, choose a historical event, person, or theme that you are passionate about and that has the potential to captivate readers. Then, do your research. As we’ve discussed in a previous post, research is a crucial step in writing historical non-fiction. You need to find reliable sources of information that will help you tell an accurate and compelling story.

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to find your voice. Find your unique voice and style, and use it to engage your readers. Rather than simply recounting events, use vivid descriptions and specific details to bring them to life. Paint a picture of the past for your readers to immerse themselves in.

When writing historical fiction, it’s important to make sure the story and the historical setting are accurate and authentic. This means accurately depicting the everyday life and politics of the time period, as well as how people spoke and acted. Readers expect the story to feel true to the time period, and while some creative license is okay, it’s important not to include falsehoods that can be easily verified. If you want more help with achieving accuracy and authenticity in your writing, you can download a guide on the topic.

It’s also important to use primary sources whenever possible. Incorporating primary sources such as diaries, letters, and photographs can provide valuable insights and help you create a more authentic portrayal of the past. You can get all your writing demands met by a book writing founders.

Polishing Historical Non-fiction

Polishing your historical nonfiction work is a crucial step in ensuring that your story is engaging, accurate, and impactful. Here are some directions to help you polish your historical nonfiction and make it shine:

Step back: Take a break from your work and return to it with fresh eyes. This can help you spot errors, inconsistencies, or areas that need further development.

Read aloud: Reading your work aloud can help you catch mistakes or awkward phrasing. It can also help you hear the rhythm of your writing and ensure that it flows smoothly.

Edit for clarity: Don’t use jargon or too many technical terms that could confuse people. Use simple language and clear sentence structure to convey your message.

Fact-check: Go back through your work and fact-check any details that you’re unsure of. Ensure that all dates, names, and events are accurate.

Seek feedback: Share your work with beta readers or a writing group to get feedback. Listen to their constructive criticism and use it to improve your work.

Additional tip Hire a proofreader.

When your manuscript is in decent shape, it’s important to have a professional look at it. By this point, you’ll know your manuscript like the back of your hand. However, because you’re so close to it, you might miss mistakes that would be obvious to someone reading it for the first time.

A professional editor can help with this. But editors do more than just look at your work with fresh eyes. They know a lot about writing stories, and they can help you take your manuscript to the next level by fixing its flaws and building on its strengths. They’ll help you make your story the best it can be before you send it to agents or put it out yourself.


In my area book editors near me told me that writing nonfiction about the past can be hard, but if you do it the right way, it can also be rewarding. By using these tips, you can write a book that not only tells people something but also makes them laugh. So, get a pen and paper and start writing your nonfiction masterpiece about history!