One of the joys of writing historical fiction is the opportunity to look to the past and ask: what if? What if an English woman suddenly found herself transported through time from mid 20th-century Scotland to mid 18th-century Scotland? What if you could meet the woman behind Johannes Vermeer’s famous oil painting? What if you could talk to one of Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors? All of these stories already exist, of course — Outlander, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Wolf Hall — but there are many more to tell. And hopefully these historical writing prompts will help you do just that!

Here are some additional resources to help you write historical fiction:


Want more help learning how to write a historical short story? Check out How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.

Have a story you’re ready to start submitting? Check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines.