Putting the Story in History

September 16, 2006


“Putting the Story in History” is a seminar and workshop on writing historical fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults, geared towards people writing historical fiction as well as those writing nonfiction, memoirs, or family histories. It was held on Saturday July 15 and Sunday July 16, 2006 at the Orchid Garden Suites in Malate, MM Philippines. It was organized and hosted by SCBWI Phil/Asia, the Philippines Asia/Pacific chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illlustrators (SCBWI) www.scbwi.org


The main speaker was Chris Eboch, author and SCBWI Regional Advisor for New Mexico. Chris is the author of The Well of Sacrifice (Clarion Books, 1999), a middle grade historical adventure set in ninth century Guatemala. Kirkus Reviews called The Well of Sacrifice “[An] engrossing first novel…. Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society.” www.chriseboch.com

The sessions covered: * What is Historical Fiction? The difference between historical fiction and history; what historical fiction can do; methods of historical research; how to explain painful truths such as historical violence and racism. * Set the Scene: Make history come alive through a vivid setting. * Dazzling Descriptions: Learn to paint the scene through a series of fun exercises. * Plotting and Pace: Use fact in your fiction to develop your idea into a plot, and learn how to balance historical details so the plot keeps moving. * Characters Kids Love: Build strong and realistic historical characters. * The Final Words: Learn to critique and edit your work, and to find markets; time for questions. Handouts include a character chart, critique questions, and a sample list of historical fiction books.

Stories from Philippine History : Chris’ presentation also touched on Philippine books including * Barefoot in Fire: A World War II Childhood, by Barbara-Ann Gamboa Lewis * Only If You Can Find Me, by Patricia Laurel * The Batang Historyador series, from Adarna House * Cinco de Noviembre, by Rene Javellana *

Around forty participants attended. There were all sorts of writers: aspiring as well as experienced, published as well as unpublished, employed as well freelance, and even webwriters. There were also illustrators, performance artists who write, teachers who teach in grade school and high school, and college and graduate students, parents, and – most interesting and helpful to have around – publishers of children’s and young adult literature.


We’ll try to add more photos and comments from some of our participants so please drop by again soon.

Be sure to read, as well, the more personal and insightful account by Nikki Garde Torres.



3 Responses to “Putting the Story in History”

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