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How to research and write historical stories

Guardian Masterclasses

Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM - Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM (BST)

How to research and write historical stories

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Ticket Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
How to research and write historical stories EARLY BIRD PRICE Ended £349.00 £0.00
How to research and write historical stories STANDARD PRICE Ended £399.00 £0.00
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Event Details

History books are one of the commercial success stories of the literary age. But whether you're writing a novel or non-fiction, great historical writers need the research skills to find meaningful and revealing information, the structures to put them together in a flowing and intriguing narrative and the writing skills to bring these facts to life.

This in-depth weekend course will show you how to put history in a dramatic context. The Guardian's Reel History columnist, Alex von Tunzelmann (author of the acclaimed Red Heat) and multi award-shortlisted historical fiction author William Ryan will equip you with the research tools and writing skills you need to turn facts and dates into compelling human stories.

Using real historical data, you'll learn how to extract compelling human stories from disparate sources, and then turn your source material into compelling long-form writing with believable characters, authentic dialogue and meaningful narratives.

Finally, literary agent Andrew Gordon provides an overview of the market for historical fiction, and the best ways to get your project published.

Course description

This highly practical, multi-disciplinary weekend course will give attendees a thorough grounding both in research methods and in translating data into exciting long-form writing. Attendees will engage in intensive study of research materials, and extrapolate information and narratives, including how to structure stories, develop characters and write dialogue. The course also includes advice on the best ways to get your project published.

  • Researching historical data – what to look for, how to assess information
  • How to structure a research project, and how to take notes
  • How to plan, structure and build an intriguing narrative
  • Character development, for both fictional and real-life historical characters
  • How to look for, select and present historical dialogue
  • Finding new angles on well-trodden eras and stories in nonfiction
  • How the historical book publishing industry works – guest seminar from literary agent Andrew Gordon

This course is for you if…

  • You're currently planning or writing a long-form historical novel, work of non-fiction or film/TV script
  • You're a journalist who wants to write  long-form non-fiction
  • You're a historian who wishes to make a compelling, readable text out of a research project
  • You're an experienced writer of contemporary fiction who wants to write a historical novel or script

Tutor profiles

Alex von Tunzelmann's first history book, Indian Summer, was described by William Dalrymple as "the best book ever written on the partition of India and Pakistan, and pretty close to a flat-out masterpiece." Her second, Red Heat, looked at the Cold War in the Caribbean, and was described by The Guardian as "a thriller… told at a cracking pace." She is currently developing a feature film about Winston Churchill, and a third history book. She writes a weekly column about historical movies for the Guardian Film Online.

William Ryan has written three crime novels set in 1930s Russia, which have been shortlisted for numerous prizes – including the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, The CWA's Ellis Peters Historical Dagger and New Blood Dagger, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award and The Irish Crime Novel of the Year (twice). He is currently working on a standalone novel set in 1945 Nazi Germany.


Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

Have questions about How to research and write historical stories? Contact Guardian Masterclasses

When & Where

The Guardian
Kings Place
90 York Way
N1 9GU London
United Kingdom

Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM - Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM (BST)

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Guardian Masterclasses

Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.

Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.

Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.

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How to research and write historical stories
London, United Kingdom Events Class

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