Write On! 4-30-23

Write On! 4-30-23

Posted on 4-30-23

Backstory Continued

So earlier we read about backstories and how they can appear in a story. Now, let’s talk about how they can work.

What does your reader need to know and why and when do they need to know it?

Incorporating backstories should be used for readers so they can understand or feel invested in the character or the plot of the story (And keep turning those pages!)

I consider this ‘drops’ in the plot. How can you sprinkle backstory to keep your reader hooked, without totally info-dumping and ruining a big reveal?

A backstory should always directly relate to the present story and directly relate to the character and character arc. Meaning, the backstory should tie into the present moment and relate to the action, or the ‘why’ of the character taking action in that moment. Don’t pull your reader away from the now.

Remember your backstory should not overtake or overshadow your main story. You want the backstory to support your main story and drive the plot forward, your character forward.

Remember: Your backstory ‘drops’ must correlate with your main story and not pull a reader away from what is happening now.

Examples of a memory/backstory and the now – keeping the moment:

‘Mmm, this stew is delicious! Just like mom used to make.’

Another example, pulling the reader away:

‘She placed the stew before me. I thought back to the time when mom used to prepare this meal. She would putter in the kitchen, swaying while humming, happily making dinner for the ten of us. Then she would call and we’d all file in, dirty feet, dirty hands and she’d good-naturedly scold us, and we’d wash up before taking our seats.’

Which of those sentences sound better? Did I really need to go into a huge backstory about mom making dinner for ten kids and how dirty they were?

Or did the first sentence convey it better?

Look for smooth transitions; object memories, anchor memories, occurrences/moments, sense memories, feelings/sensations, settings, specifics and general.

Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to…

Write On!

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