Historical Fiction Prompts

… or story prompts, written and curated by me, Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, a historian and author.

With my writing prompts, you can use the original historical material to conjure up the world of the past. I publish exclusively to my newsletter, The Idea Catapult, on Tuesdays. Some of those articles appear below a few weeks later.

 

A few notes on how it works

These prompts inspire you to write very special (or very typical) scenes from a particular era.

1. You could write them as a rehearsal, to see if you’re truly interested in writing 400+ pages about this setting and time.

2. Or you could write them, and weave them into your novel.

Essentially, you invent the protagonists – I bring the historical background information. 

When working with the Historical Fiction Prompts, there are again two options. Have a look at the people shown in the image/film/footage or photo mentioned in my prompt, and choose one of them as your protagonist. Or if you already have your own protagonist, use him/her! Imagine them taking their place in the setting that the prompt provides. Put him right in the middle of the action. Imagine your chosen protagonist being confronted with the historical incidents.

Narrate what he encounters. Confront him or her with the unfolding situation.

Utilise the original historical material to conjure up the world of the past.

the Ultimate Gift Guide For Authors >> —

Need to find a gift for someone who writes? Browse and plunder the Ultimate Gift Guide

                   Author, Choose Your Time And Setting >> 1700-1800: Why Isn’t There A Novel … About A Fireworks Expert?   Fireworks — some of my earliest childhood memories are connected to the fireworks after the local autumn fair. As children, we were allowed to stay up late. Very late indeed. We were 3 o… Research Trip: Special “Pilgrims’ Appartements” in a Medieval German Chu… Book research: “I… Read more …

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Need to find a gift — for someone who writes? The 2017 Gift Guide for Authors, Writers and Literary Agents

                             Author, Choose Your Time And Setting >> A Novel about Lavender, the rise of the Purple Gold? Lavender & Provence belong together – since forever, right?  No. Actually, these purple plants were only imported to the region at the end of the 19th century – no earlier. But why isn’… France: A summer trip to see medieval towns and castles Book… Read more …

Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers 2017

The Ultimate Gift Guide For Writers 2017

Aaaah, it’s that glorious time of the year again, when we wrack our brains asking ourselves: What do I gift to my loved ones? What could I buy for my lovely clients and colleagues? If you need to find a gift for an author, look no further. You want to spend between 10-120 Euros or USD? Then this is the only list you’ll need. Curated by Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historical advisor for authors and the brain behind… Read more …

Writers block? Or researcher’s block? How to NOT waste your time while writing your historical novel

  Hello, I am Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historical advisor to authors and publishers.  We know that our research materials don’t just fall into our laps … and the best historial details usually aren’t listed in Wikipedia. But when our local librarian overwhelms us, when the expert we’ve emailed doesn’t answer, and when browsing Pinterest leaves us even more confused, we end up fearing that we’re wasting too much time on research.   Because these 50,000 words… Read more …

Now you can find original historical sources for your book — even if you’re not a historian.

Complete your novel — fast than ever — by utilising handpicked historical materials. How?

  Hello, I am Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historical advisor to authors and publishers.  We know that our research materials don’t just fall into our laps … and the best historial details usually aren’t listed in Wikipedia. But when our local librarian overwhelms us, when the expert we’ve emailed doesn’t answer, and when browsing Pinterest leaves us even more confused, we end up fearing that we’re wasting too much time on research.   Because these 50,000 words… Read more …

The only writing prompt that SAVES you time. Because it comes together with handpicked historical background information.

Who else wants to save time when conducting research for their novel?

Hello, I am Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historical advisor to authors and publishers.  We know that our research materials don’t just fall into our laps … and the best historial details usually aren’t listed in Wikipedia. But when our local librarian overwhelms us, when the expert we’ve emailed doesn’t answer, and when browsing Pinterest leaves us even more confused, we end up fearing that we’re wasting too much time on research.   Because these 50,000 words of… Read more …

nanowrimo

Write your historical novel [NaNoWriMo]

               Author, Choose Your Time And Setting >> Want to get hand-curated historical material for your book? My best findings are published in my hand-curated guides for authors. You can buy them here. But long before these ideas are published as a book, I share them exclusively with this mailing list.  … Research Trip Pfalz, Germany: The Palatinate, part three Research Trip: Former Concentration Camp Osthofen, Germany From my author… Read more …

nanowrimo

Book research: “I don’t know where to start” [NaNoWriMo 2017]

         Author, Choose Your Time And Setting >> A Novel about Lavender, the rise of the Purple Gold? Lavender & Provence belong together – since forever, right?  No. Actually, these purple plants were only imported to the region at the end of the 19th century – no earlier. But why isn’… Write about Food in Iceland Want to get prompts and inspiration for people who write?   Fish outside a house in… Read more …

Here’s the fastest way to start writing your new historical novel

Nanowrimo: Writer’s block? Or researcher’s block? How to avoid wasting time, when writing your historical novel

  Hello, I am Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historical advisor to authors and publishers.  We know that our research materials don’t just fall into our laps … and the best historial details usually aren’t listed in Wikipedia. But when our local librarian overwhelms us, when the expert we’ve emailed doesn’t answer, and when browsing Pinterest leaves us even more confused, we end up fearing that we’re wasting too much time on research.   Because these 50,000 words… Read more …

nanowrimo inspiration

Historical Novels, set in France, Burgundy

Are you planning to write a novel, set in Burgundy? Then follow me to the Doyonné, where I discovered a beautiful estate with a past from during WW2. I even found an original car from the 1930s. A curious lady drove it, as the first fmale driver in the entire area! If you want to accompany me on my research trips, you can receive my weekly letters from the road. Plus the occasional writing prompt… Read more …

Berlin. It’s summer 1945. The war ended on May 8. In this setting, a group of British ladies arrives. Protected and guarded by British male soldiers, they are wandering around like tourists in the shattered city of Berlin. Describe what they feel. Whom they meet … View the prompt

Lavender & Provence belong together – since forever, right? No. Actually, these purple plants were only imported to the region at the end of the 19th century – no earlier. 

But why isn’t there a novel about the liquid gold that made so many perfume créateurs astonishingly rich? A novel that tells the stories of the people who worked so hard to cultivate these plants? Receive the writing prompt.

1600-1650: What Sickness Could Your Protagonist Suffer From?

Are you in need of an illness, sickness or some other form of human pain — and your novel is set in Elizabethan England? This extensive digital database provides an extraordinary insight into Elizabethan society. It can be a useful source for any novelist who wants to write about early modern England.
Choose from 85,000 medical consultations, held between 1596 and 1634, right here.

Want a new writing prompt every Tuesday?

 

»Accidents and distempers, amputations and worms«
In 1702, John Moyle has served as a sea surgeon in the navy for almost 40 years. Now old, he decides to write a how-to manual on practising surgery on a ship. His book »CHIRURGUS MARINUS« covers the most common diseases or wounds that sailors around the year 1700 A.D. might have suffered from. Therefore, it is an ideal resource for your seafare novel.

Write about Food in Iceland 
Iceland – the Nordic country first came to my attention when I read Hannah Kent’s breathtaking novel BURIAL RIGHTS. Now, I discovered an amazing source with hundreds of historical recipes from Iceland. Browse the selection here, and write a scene.

Write about Australian Food in the 1860s 
Battered kangaroo brains cooked in emu fat, anyone? Discover the best resource I know for authentic Australian recipes. Then, write a scene in which your protagonist prepares a TYPICAL Australian dish.

Why Isn’t There a Novel About a Ganerben-Burg Castle?
A castle divided between multiple families … wouldn’t that be the perfect setting for a novel? Imagine: 3 to 5 different families, trapped in a confined space, sharing the same rooms, each and every day. It’s time for internal hostilities and atrocities. Conflict is inevitable. A very special setting that allows you to narrate a very special situation.

Write about Food from the German Democratic Republic
Many childhood memories are connected to food — and those special foods cannot be bought any more. But what if you suddenly discovered them? Write the scene.

1945. A Dance with the enemy?
It’s the end of the fraternisation ban in post-war Germany. Couples who have met and like each other, are *finally* allowed to meet officially for an evening out together. Narrate how a couple – a British soldier and a young German woman – who have just met, date for the first time.

Receive a new writing prompt from a historical location 1x per week.