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"Historical Fiction 101: Mastering Research and Drama" with James L. Haley

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

4/21/2018 From 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Online registration for this class has closed. You can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers. Thank you!

$49 for members (sign in for member pricing)


Want to turn historical details into riveting drama?

Historical fiction is the easiest genre to write badly: clumsy "info dumps" on the one side, ghastly anachronisms of speech, manners, dress, and everything else on the other. The best historical writers know how to craft history to serve the story.

In this class, students will learn professional skills in what and how to research your time and place, how to lay the boundary between accurate history and the needs of the story (which come first), how to employ the historical setting to propel the story (even when indulging in a bit of a fun bunny trail), and how to use historically appropriate dialogue without tongue-tying your characters or slowing down the action.

Historical fiction is a highly competitive market, and the class will give special attention to how to hook an agent or editor in the first few pages. "World building" often becomes less than the sum of its parts: tell readers too much and they cannot participate in their minds' eyes, tell them too little and they become fog-bound in an alien time. This class will focus on the right balance.


  • You're overwhelmed by the amount of details and research available to writers of historical fiction.
  • You want strategies for creating historical dramas from a bestselling author in the genre.



James L. Haley is an award-winning historian and author of numerous books on Texas and Western history, as well as several works of fiction, including The Buffalo War, which has been in print for thirty-nine years and remains the definitive history of the final war of the Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Indians against Anglo domination; the multiple award winning biography Sam Houston; and Wolf: The Lives of Jack London; among others. Haley’s work has garnered many awards, including two Spur Awards (2002 and 2011) from the Western Writers of America. His latest novel, and the second in the Putnam Naval Adventure series, is A Darker Sea: Commandant Putnam and the War of 1812.



St. Edward's University, 3001 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, Trustee Hall 303. You can find a St. Edward's University campus map here.



$49 members (sign in for member pricing)

$109 nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, April 19. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster.



Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven't taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to give us a call at 512-499-8914 if you'd like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. 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


This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit


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