I love working with students who are writing historical fiction. I've written three historical novels myself, including Petersburg, which sold for $250,000 and reached the Best Sellers list in England.
The first thing I tell my students is this: To write historical fiction, follow your characters, trust them, become them, see their worlds through their eyes!
While research is fascinating and invaluable when writing historical fiction, it can become addictive to the point of controlling your story. And this happens all too easily with the internet right at our fingertips!
A common mistake many of my students have made prior to our working together is jumping into far too much research before their characters have some flesh and blood to them.
While the details of a specific time period are crucial, it's the writer's ability to immerse their readers in the historical time and place as it affects the characters' lives that is the most important element of writing historical fiction.
History is the backdrop. Remembering this is a sure-fire way to keep the balance between research and your story!