Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Backstory & the Indie Author - The Toolbox

Backstory is the history of your character's past. It is a literary tool used to add depth to your writing. Now most times when I'm writing or editing I'll delete backstory in rather large chunks. It is so easy in the first draft stage to be bogged down in the past of your character. Most editors will tell you it is unnecessary, but I tend to straddle the fence.

This post will show you effective backstory guidelines.

Can you show justification of why the backstory is necessary at this point in time in your story?
Does it move your story forward?
Does it help show why your character is doing what they are doing in the present?
Can you read through the couple of lines of backstory and not ruin your story's pacing?

These are some questions you need to ask yourself while editing. If the answer is "YES" continue. If your answer is "NO" stop right here and delete the passage.

IF you answered "YES."
Is the backstory something worth waiting for?
Is it a dream or desire your character really wants?
Does it affect what is happening now in your story?
Is it something the reader HAS to know?

I know these are a lot of questions. I find questions are sometimes the answers we seek as authors. All your characters have a story and a past. As an author we know what that history is. Authors tend to be rather flamboyant. We like to show off with words what we know. That is why we write in the first place.

Ah, I hear you now... I'm an introvert, I hate attention, I'm (add whatever here). But honestly...look at the reasons you indie publish or publish at all.  You could write for your own pleasure and never have another person read what you wrote. With publishing we become the peacock preening its feathers displaying them in all their glory. If you are going to show off your feathers to the world, shouldn't it be something beautiful?

The number one question I'm often asked during an interview is "What makes you write?" or variations of it.

Ah, but then that's backstory. <G>

Do you have backstory in your novel? Is it good backstory or bad?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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