Historical Fiction Narrative With A Twist: Research Paper Checklist & Timeline

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Historical fiction is a fictional piece set in a historically accurate time and place. Narrative writing is when the author creates a written account of an event or a story. One of my research assignments to give my students mirrors historical fiction by combining report writing with narrative.

This research paper with a twist requires my students to research a time period in history and then create a character that might have lived during that time. They must write a short story about a conflict this character experiences. The conflict must be directly related to the time period and the event on which they focus their research.

Prerequisites to assigning this project are units on research, report writing, and narrative writing. Typically I combine basic refresher notes into one information packet to remind students how to take notes, cite sources, analyze the value of an online source, and how to create a character and craft a narrative.

Typical paper length would be 7 to 9 pages comprised of 4 to 6 pages of report writing and 3 to 5 pages of narrative writing. When I make my assignment this is the type of checklist I provide my students.

Research Paper Checklist

  • Choose a time period in history.
  • Narrow the topic to the event or events on which you’ll focus in your short story.
  • Do some preliminary reading to determine what direction you’ll take for both your research & short story.
  • Create a profile for the fictional character you’ll be creating. You may want to base your character on a person who lived at the time.
  • Create a preliminary outline of what you plan cover.
  • Use the approved portals to do your research.
  • Use at least 3 different sources.
  • Use the Note Taking Worksheets to complete your research.
  • Begin writing your paper.
  • Share your paper with me & follow my suggestions for editing & focus.
  • Finalize your outline and works cited page.
  • Hand in your paper!


I also provide a checklist of Due Dates to help keep students organized as in the sample below.

Example Research Paper Timeline

  • Choose Topic by Wednesday, April 15
  • Outline rough draft due: Friday, April 17
  • Note Taking Worksheet #1: Tuesday, April 21
  • Note Taking Worksheet #2: Friday, April 24
  • Note Taking Worksheet #3: Wednesday, April 29
  • Begin writing by Friday, May 1
  • Progress graded (instead of handing in rough draft) on Friday, May 8
  • Final Outline due: Friday, May 15
  • Works Cited page due:  Friday, May 15
  • Final Paper due: Friday, May 22

Approaching research this way has opened my students’ minds to the realization that research can have many necessary purposes in life and that learning to research well is a valuable skill. A plus for me is that usually these papers are much more interesting to read than the average high school research report. Also, this paper can serve as a crossover project between English and history.


Resource List:  

Renee Ann Smith teaches literature in a Christian high school by day and writes stories by night. She reviews books and shares inspirational posts on her blog Doorkeeper at http://reneeannsmith.com/. You can also find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ReneeAnnSmith.


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