I'm attempting to write a historical fiction novel that takes place in the few years before the American revolution and would like to be as accurate as possible.
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The commonality of the original 13 colonies was that they were the original 13, after that the social, economic, and political realities of the colonies differed from colony to colony. Therefore, the first issue you must address is where your historical novel will take place. For example, politics in the New England colonies centered around the 'town meeting', in South Carolina it was the 'parish hall', and in Virginia politics was carried out by small legislative bodies. In addition to politics, the physical development of the colonies had very little in common. Colonial New York grew out of its dedication to commerce and trade. Small businesses flourished in close proximity to one another dominating the physical appearance of the colony. The towns in the southern colonies were more of a support to the plantation system. (in most cases were self contained) This grave difference in physical development definitely effected the economic prosperity or lack of within these colonies. So decide where you want to set the novel, research the reality of the colony, and I think that will be a good place to begin.
Another thought...you might want to read a few historical novels, they might lend insight into how history and fiction are developed. An author that comes to mind in Gore Vidal, his works include Burr, and Lincoln. E notes is an excellent tool for you to use in your quest for information.
This is an awfully broad question. There are so many aspects to life that you would need to get "right" in order to write a historical novel.... Maybe if you could focus on one area where you need help?
Here's one thing that might be important. In those days, most economic activity went on in people's own homes. Farmers, of course, lived near to their farms. Artisans in the towns would have their workshops in their homes. Their apprentices would live with them as part of the family. You can sort of see how this works if you read Johnny Tremain, which is set in the time you are talking about.
In addition, women were not so marginalized from economic life as they later became. Women both on farms and in cities did work that was important to their families' economic well-being. For example, farm women would raise vegetables and tend to animals and card and spin wool.
For much more detail, I would recommend looking for a book by Jack Larkin entitled The Reshaping of Everyday Life: 1790-1840. Obviously, the book starts a bit after the Revolution, but it has lots of detail about many aspects of life during those and earlier times.
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