Writing an historical drama like Gaijin has two challenges. It must be a good fiction story and it must adhere, more more or less, to historical fact.
“If the purpose of converting historical events to a dramatic format is to interest the widest possible audience, then forgetting why it is done makes the effort useless. ….. Although historical accuracy and dramatic effect do not always clash, inevitably they will. Then which set of values should prevail? If the story is going to work and hold the interest of the audience, the values of drama must prevail. … that is not easy to do.”
Not easy to do. How true.
As I write Gaijin, I am boxed into the historical timeline I’m writing about and timeline of the historical characters. A pure fiction story has no such restriction. The universe is mine. I can create any timeline I wish. Not so with historical fiction.
I not only have to write into the historical events and historical figures as they unfold, but I have to make those events and character interactions dramatic through the actions of my fictional characters. Like a fiction story, each scene I write – I call chapters scenes because I want to project images in the readers minds like a movie – must have either tension between the characters or conflict. Each scene of almost any movie must have some kind of tension or conflict between the characters. if not, it makes for very dull entertainment.
The challenge is to make an historical fact – dramatic. If not, I’ve written a non-fiction historical tome – not very entertaining as a story.
I keep the rules above in mind every time a I write a scene.
First, do the research on the historical event
Second, what choose the characters for the scene.
Third, create tension of conflict between the characters.
As the quote above says – it’s not easy to do.