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The Purpose of Backstory

The Purpose of Backstory

My short answer to a recent writing site prompt asking, “What is the purpose of backstory.”

For me, there’s two flavors of backstory…

If the backstory is part of the story, then it is where the hero’s Problem lurks, the one they trip over in the inciting incident and must battle throughout the story, until they finally see it and stomp on it in the end. Although stories seem to be about a battle with the Antagonist, in the end it is usually winning the battle with some part of themselves that allows them to win against the bad guy.

If the backstory is not shown to the reader, then it’s often used as a bible of sorts for the writer to follow to inform who their character is as a three-dimensional, fallible–and often broken–person. It helps them know what their character will do and feel in any situation the writer throws them into.

It pays to get to know your characters from beginning to end. The more “alive” they are, the more they will bring your stories to life, too.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2019 in Blog, Fiction, Process, Writing

 

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Favorite Starts

Favorite Starts

(A response to the prompt “What’s your favorite way to start writing?” when you don’t know what the story is yet.)

Although it doesn’t often work out this way, the most enjoyable part of my writing process happens when I’m scribbling longhand in a notebook somewhere pretty outdoors, about whatever I find interesting or silly or disconcerting at that moment, until … an idea forms. Excited by the possibilities, I continue scribbling until a story begins to evolve. Eventually, witnesses will report a crazy person running home to the computer to see where the ideas take her.

For me, paper is slow and good for thinking;
The keyboard is fast and good for writing.

You might want to try this yourself if your ideas have difficulties gestating. Perhaps it will work for you, too. Tell the police I put you up to it.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2019 in Blog, Process, Writing

 

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