Advice for Mormon writers of historical fiction

As I revealed earlier in the year, I was a finalists judge for historical fiction for this year’s Whitney Awards. I’ll reveal my ballot after the awards are presented, but since that doesn’t happen until May, here’s some advice for Mormons who write or are considering writing historical fiction.

Keep in mind that I don’t write historical fiction myself and haven’t read deeply in the genre so my advice may not be worth much. But my exposure to it includes: reading all of the historical fiction nominees this year, reading the historical fiction finalists back in [[insert year]], other reading of Mormon historical fiction, other reading of historical fiction published in the past three decades, other reading of fantasy fiction that draws on historical fiction, reading of quite a few novels from the main eras that authors write historical fiction in (the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries), reading of nonfiction from/about those eras, and reading of several of Sir Walter Scott’s novels. Scott, along with Jane Porter, launched the genre of historical fiction. This is all to say that while it’s not one of my primary genres, I do have some familiarity with its tropes and forms and what it can do well. Continue reading “Advice for Mormon writers of historical fiction”

Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Keeping Journals — Junius F. Wells

0---WellsJuniusF-c1905Keeping a journal is perhaps one of the few areas where the advice given to the general membership of the Church and that given to aspiring writers is similar. Still today we occasionally hear the advice from the pulpit, usually in the context of how this will improve our spiritual lives. In contrast, writers have traditionally been given the advice to keep a journal in order to improve their writing and provide material for their creative lives.

Unfortunately, at least in terms of Church members, I suspect this has been one of the most ignored pieces of advice to come from Church leadership. Any historian of Mormonism will tell you that, even among Church leaders, diaries and journals are few and far between. And even when they exist, the events that we see as important now, were too often not seen as important in the diaries and journals of participants. Alas, I am, myself, guilty of this failure.

Continue reading “Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Keeping Journals — Junius F. Wells”