Write On! 4-15-23

Write On! 4-15-23

Posted on 4-15-23


Are you using a backstory in your current WIP?

Backstories can add to the story you are writing. But how do you balance it so it’s not an info-dump, and isn’t too vague?

First, let’s look at the common types:

Front(loaded), Flashback backstory dump, Backstory taking over story dump, Cryptic or Coy (tease), Unnecessary, Clunky intros and outros, Not enough/poorly developed.

Now, let’s break them down.

Frontloaded – Generally speaking, this is bringing your reader up to speed with information that can stall your story before you begin. If you’re explaining your story with a backstory, you’ve failed before you started.

Flashback backstory dump – overloaded flashbacks that pulls a reader from your main story or what’s happening now. Don’t get wrapped up in a backstory that, in effect, nulls your main story and makes your main story uninteresting.

Backstory taking over story – “Mysterious past,” or big reveals. Usually, the plot isn’t clearly defined in these types. If this is the case, take a look at where your backstory is heading. Or maybe, your backstory needs to run dually with the story.

Cryptic or Coy (tease) - Where a secret from the past leads up to a climactic reveal. If you use this, make sure you have enough information to make your reader care and want to keep turning pages to find out how it ties in with the main story. And your story/backstory must always move forward.

Unnecessary – This is self-explanatory. If it is not essential, it can hamper the story. Your story should always move forward, so the backstory must assist in this. Take it out if you can’t make it work in your central story.

Bulky intros and outros – Bulky (and trope-like) lead-ins like, ‘Remembering as if it were yesterday’ or ‘like a movie in his/her mind…’ sentences can backfire on the plot of your story. It can pull your reader from what you are trying to hook them with. Why does a reader care if something is remembered or played like a movie?

Not enough/poorly developed – Be careful of cliches. The sexy librarian who wears glasses, but when she takes them off… watch out single men! (And married ones.) He was six feet, three inches tall, built, didn’t take guff from no one, but a tender little Teddy Bear when no one was looking. These are tropes, commonly used—and unless it is central to your character’s arc and a trait that is central to the character him/herself, it can be like a cardboard cutout, hollow, and shallow. What will make your reader care about these characters?

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to…

Write On!

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