Friday, July 15, 2016

B is for Back story


 

Margaret talks about writing back stories

 

Back story is an essential in almost all novels, something that happened weeks or months or even years before the story begins. Something that tells the reader a little bit about the hero/heroine’s character, but not too much all at once. To be effective it needs to be fed in gradually, usually through dialogue or each character’s thoughts.

 I develop complete back stories for my two main characters before I begin to write, then add and improve as I go. It’s amazing how their identities begin to emerge - until they eventually become real people in my mind. Real live people whose story I’m telling!

I don’t use every tiny detail that I’ve written down. Back story is simply an aid, put in where necessary as a flashback in the character’s mind, or in dialogue. Of the two options I find dialogue works better because the reader becomes more involved.

And of course everything needs to be woven in seamlessly so that the reader doesn’t see it as pure back story, simply an interesting and necessary part of the book. I actually find it equally as interesting delving in to what’s gone on before I ‘met’ my characters as I do writing about them.

 

 

 

8 comments:

  1. I'm still trying to work out what my current hero's back story is - he hasn't told me yet!

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    1. I'm sure it will be a nice surprise when he does!

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  2. Backstory is essential to the plot. The tricky part for me is finding the balance of what I need to know to write my characters and story and what the reader needs to know.

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    1. I entirely agree with you, Debra. We always know far more about our characters than we ever put in the story. And cross our fingers that we've got the balance right.

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  3. The tricky part for me is weaving it in throughout the story, rather than giving an info dump.

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    1. I agree, but it's worthwhile doing. If we overload the reader's mind with too much information at once they get bored with the story. And that is the last thing we want.

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  4. Old wounds, unfulfilled desires. Sometimes my characters don't reveal their deepest, darkest secrets right away. I have to peel them like an onion.
    Great post, Margaret.

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