• Joseph Morganti

Tips on Writing a Historical Script

Audiences love immersing themselves in a period they’re unfamiliar with. Whether it’s a piece from hundreds of years ago to less than a century ago, historical fiction is here for us to admire. Still, as excellent as the genre is, it’s a very challenging genre to craft in a script.


With this in mind, below will highlight a few tips on writing a historical script. We’ll discuss what historical fiction is, picking the right moment, understanding the time’s dialect, and more. By the end, you’ll get a general idea of what to expect with writing a historical script. Let’s get started!

Still from 'Dunkirk'. Photo credit: The Playlist


What’s Historical Fiction?


Historical fiction is a fictional story set against a continuous period from the past. Generally speaking, it’s viewed that at least 50 years is the minimum for a historical fiction script. At last, it’s the goal of the screenplay to take the audience beyond their second time. It transports viewers to a time of occasions past their world.


The main thing to recall while composing a historical fiction script is to make a story that could never have happened in some other period. Your content ought to mirror the period in precise detail. From what characters needed for breakfast to the sort of shoes they wore, your screenplay ought to act specifically to that period. If successful, you’ll have a killer historical fiction script.


Besides historical fiction, some stories are based on actual events from the past. Historical pieces like this play a similar role in how they’re written. These pieces just have the additional hurdle of staying accurate to the actual story. Though some may add puffery to the story, it’s still essential to have the essential parts correct.


Pick the Right Moment


The initial step to any historical fiction script is picking a point in history and determining why it’s essential. Each bit is essential to the necessary foundation of the story, so what stands out to you? Furthermore, you must demonstrate this to the crowd, showing why this period is worth the experience.


Vital to this interchange is investigating surrounding events and determining how it matters to the story. Ask how could the events that happened during this time of history seriously affect the course of your story. Hence, you need to research that time and see what’s up.


Create Compelling Characters


While composing a historical script, you choose either to design fictional people or choose genuinely accurate figures. Either way, there are many approaches to picking your characters. Creating your characters tends to be easier but relies more on the writer to craft a compelling character.


On the other hand, using an actual figure can gain an audience familiar with that character. Still, the downside is you may run into criticism if you don’t portray that character in a way the audience wants. The best advice is to create a great character like you would with any other script.


Don’t Forget About the Foundation of a Great Script


The most significant issue people have with crafting a historical script centers around the importance of a great script. Some writers think the appeal of that historical setting is enough to attract an audience. In reality, the foundation of a great script is equally important in a historical script than a non-historical script.


Remember, the setting of a story doesn’t make the story. There are plenty of historical scripts set in exciting periods that were lousy. Usually, it has to do with the writer thinking the period of the script is more than enough for the script. Don’t get followed, and remember the importance of a compelling story.


Understand That Setting


Regarding recognizing the setting of a story, we are quickly attracted to visuals before anything else. Whether through ensembles, hairpieces, or furniture, historical scripts plan to make a striking and recognizable picture.


Keep in mind, this is generally one more component that is the obligation of other on-set divisions. However, the screenwriter should think about how the distinction in setting impacts the plot. It all comes down to understanding the setting and getting the most out of your story's period.


Understand That Time’s Dialect


Inseparable from the period you've set is the dialect and dialogue attributable to that time. These are spur-of-the-moment perspectives that indicate a more extensive world beyond the scope of your story. The dialogue urges the crowd to imagine a bigger universe hiding past the picture on the screen.


However, be cautious on the off chance that you use discourse to indicate a broader story. Remember to stay authentic. Nothing hauls you from a film like a person recounting lines of realities, figures, and verifiable information. That isn't the way individuals talk now, and it isn't the way people talked back then. Keep it realistic!


Great Historical Scripts


● Dunkirk (2017)

● Braveheart (1995)

● Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

● 12 Years a Slave (2013)

● Schindler's List (1993)