“A historian is an individual who studies and writes about history, and is regarded as an authority on it.”
History forms the genesis for a fantasy world; it’s the story of your world and how it came to be. It doesn’t matter if you reveal the history to your reader or not, fleshing out a great timeline will act as a firm foundation for the rest of your world.
Use Our History
“The key to writing a really good world history is to look at examples from our world.”
Chances are anything you “invent” will have happened somewhere in our world before, so why reinvent it? The originality will come from the way you connect each story together.
Remember that history is a collection of stories tied together by a time line.
The Fun Way to Become a Historian
History is one of the school subjects that gets a reputation of being taught by old eccentric teachers, in tweed suits, who fall asleep more than they teach the lesson. So what can I suggest as a fun way to learn about history? Well, I’ve had a ponder the below are my suggestions:
1. Identify Your Era
- What period of time really fascinates you?
- When is your novel set time wise?
When you focus on a specific era it narrows down the amount of information you need to learn about. Also if you pic an era you’re passionate about then it will feed your desire to learn. Remember, you’re doing this for fun, it’s not an exam so enjoy it.
Example Era’s include:
- Egyptian Mythology
- Greek Mythology
- Middle Ages
- Roman Empire
Here in the UK we are blessed that the Government decided to make all museums FREE! YEY! And I am even more blessed in that I live 20 minutes away from the Royal Armouries which “is home to the United Kingdom’s national collection of arms and armour, including artillery.” - according to the website. They have plenty of swords and guns to drool over; I even think you can take sword fighting lessons there.
Museums are a fantastic place to go to learn. I’m sure there will be a museum somewhere close to you, so book a day in your diary to go and visit.
(Out of all of the ways to become a Historian, this is my favourite. )
Watch LOTS of films set in the period you like or want to learn more about. The one key thing to remember when watching films for research is that the director will have often taken artistic licence on the facts. So use films to get a general feel for the period and to use as initial research rather than a biblical source of information.
Some suggestions of films I have seen and love:
Greek Mythology: Disney’s Hercules, Clash of the Titans.
Egyptian Mythology: The Mummy Series, Stargate.
Renaissance: The Princess Bride, The Legend of Zorro, Pride and Prejudice
Medieval: The Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood Men in Tights
Pre-History: 10,000 BC (it got a caning by the critics but I rather liked it), The Scorpion King,
Apocalyptic: The Postman, Waterworld
I could go on and on recommending tons of films but I’ll stop there for now.
Buying new films all of the time will become expensive so see if you can find somewhere to rent them. I know in the UK Libraries are starting to lend out DVD’s and there is also Love Film which I use for my film research – cheap DVD rentals with a Free 2 week trial make it a very good service.
I hope you can see there are many fun ways to become an historian. History isn’t all about boring people that spend their time living in the past; it is a vibrant stimulation for developing your own fantasy world.