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Researching and Plotting the Historical Novel

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St. Edward's University
Moody Hall 209

10/19/2013 From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

with John Pipkin

$99 for members (log in for member price)

$159 for nonmembers

Writers of historical fiction often face the same basic questions: How do you research details essential for creating convincing characters, settings, and dialogue? Where do you find the details that will make your story unique? To what extent should research drive plot? How accurately should your fictional narrative strive to portray factual history? This full-day class will suggest strategies for research and writing, and it will examine some of the common pitfalls of the genre. We'll look at some ways to find specific details that add to the authenticity of a historical novel, as well as approaches to outlining and planning that can help sustain a novel length narrative. Through lecture and Q&A, we’ll examine how much research is “enough” and how to known when to “abandon” the facts to improve the story.

John Pipkin’s first novel, Woodsburner, was published to national acclaim by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in April 2009. Woodsburner won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book Novel Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Stephen Turner Prize for First Novel. John was the Dobie Paisano Fellow for the spring of 2011. He recently sold his second novel to Doubleday.

NOTE: Tickets are not refundable. For more information on class policies, please visit our Classes page.

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This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to

The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit