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Introduction to Writing Historical Fiction

Course Code: CRWR 1105
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Creative Writing
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course introduces students to the writing of historical fiction. Using material from historical sources, students will learn how to create dramatic scenes that reveal character and develop plot. A range of narrative styles will be discussed through a study of various texts. Students will write short stories and the opening chapters of novels which will then be read and discussed by the instructor and students in a workshop environment

Course Content

Student manuscripts will form the bulk of the course content. Published texts, such as The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe, and Reindeer Moon by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, will also be used.

Methods of Instruction

Classes will be conducted in the workshop format.  The following may be combined with the workshop:

  • lectures and discussions
  • small group workshops
  • field trips

Means of Assessment

A minimum of five written assignments, including one character sketch, one scene, one short story, and one opening chapter of a novel, all of which will include two pages of historical source material as evidence of research conducted. In addition, students will be required to submit a written report on a published piece of historical fiction. Up to 80% of the final mark will be based on written assignments, the remainder on in-class exercises and class participation.

Students are required to attend 80% of the workshops.  A student missing more than 20% of the workshops without instructor permission receives a 0 in class participation.                                 

Learning Outcomes

General Objectives:

Students will learn the narrative elements of the historical short story and novel. Students will be able to use these elements in constructing their own history-based stories and novels.

Specific Objectives:

Successful students should be able to:

  1. access and use historical source materials to create short stories and first chapters of novels.
  2. strike a balance between the use of historical material and their imagination in order to create effective narratives.
  3. use language appropriate to a time in order to create believable dialogue.
  4. present characters based on historical figures.
  5. create a scene that conveys a sense of time, place and significant action.
  6. recognize material that can be effectively presented in a short story.
  7. use time, place, character and incident to begin an historical novel.

course prerequisites

  • Any College entrance Language Proficiency Requirement EXCEPT the Douglas College Course Options in ELLA or ENGU, OR
  • a minimum grade of C- in ELLA 0460, or a minimum grade of C- in both ELLA 0465 and 0475, OR
  • a minimum grade of C- in ENGU 0450 or ENGU 0455 or ENGU 0490


HIST 1113 or HIST 1114 and ENGL 1106

Recommended (Required only for Summer Institute in Historical Fiction students)

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.