“B” is for Backstory- #atozchallenge

My father says, “Whoever steals from me steals twice.” In other words, if you think my idea is good enough to steal, I’ve probably stolen it from someone else. In this case, Clarice Creates talked about writing backstory today. I won’t tell you what she said, but you should definitely read it yourself here.

that's me, stealing from Clarice

that’s me, stealing from Clarice

Writing backstory is one of my weaknesses. Actually, I take that back, writing backstory isn’t that hard for me… brainstorming backstory is.

What do I mean by that?

I’m not an outliner when it comes to my fiction. I got started with short stories and one act plays, and I could just start with the barest of ideas, or even just a bit of dialogue, and start writing. A story would quickly emerge, and I’d have the excitement of figuring out the ending as I approached it.

But that doesn’t really work for novels. At least not for me. Sure, Stephen King writes that way, but I’d point out the biggest criticism readers have is that his endings suck… so draw whatever connections you will.

For my novel Runaways, I usually say that I outlined it. In truth, I wrote a ten thousand word story of it, figuring out things as I went. Then I started over, fleshed it out, and got my novel. But guess what… that’s a terrible time-suck of a way to write!

I didn’t world build. I didn’t decide things ahead of time. Heck, even one of the biggest “OH!” moments in the book didn’t get added until my third draft. Now it’s a core part of the entire trilogy and is THE ENTIRE BACKSTORY FOR ONE OF THE PROTAGONISTS! That would have been helpful to know ahead of time!

So as I approach the second book, I’m going to outline first. I’m going to do some world building. I’m going to create backstory… because I know that’s the spice an author can throw in to make it more believable (cooking metaphor didn’t really hold up, but you know what I mean).

Luckily, StoryShop should be in beta just in time 🙂

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