As for historical fiction, my Chandler's Ford Today post this week is part 2 of my interview with Jennifer C Wilson. She writes historical fiction crossed with ghost stories in her Kindred Spirits series. In the interview, she shares some of the joys and woes of writing ghost stories/crossing genres and discusses the research she does for the historical side of her work. If you are looking for ghost stories that are different, do check out her series.
Good historical fiction should make you feel as if you have stepped back in time and as if you are the proverbial fly on the wall in whatever era and setting the writer has chosen. Can you sense the smells of that world? Can you picture how things would look?
One thing about history I love, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, is the way it shows how others lived. It makes me grateful for things I think we take for granted - the ability to read and write for the vast majority of us, decent sanitation etc. It does no harm to reflect every so often how fortunate we are to have these. They were not always a "given".
So the secret here then is to give your readers enough information so they can picture and sense your world without giving them so much, they lose all sense of what the story is. This is true for every genre you care to name too.