Blabbing About Back-Story

20 Jan

This is a Response post to: Writing Backstory is an Art ~ by Haley Whitehall

(Before you read this I would read Haley’s post as I refer to it a bit so click on the link above!)

First off I have to disagree with you on hating back-story Haley dear, quite personally I LOVE writing back-story as a matter o- fact my current WIP sprung from a scene of back-story that takes place around fifteen years before my book’s plot even begins. I love finding out who my characters are from who they were. It’s like character arch before character arch. After all, who we are is simply based upon our past experiences and memories, exchanging them for another’s would change us completely!

One thing I did think you were right about is back-story being an art. It is, there is no way of getting around it. Learning how to weave past into present without breaking the flow of the two time lines is, least to say, tricky.

Personally, I am a flash back girl. I love my flash backs and use them when ever I can, though it often comes back to bite me in editing because I have to cut up the manuscript like some kind of patchwork Frankenstein. I also like to use dialogue to bulk up my back-story. Since, my novels almost always have a unexpected twist or revelation in the midst of the plot, it often comes about by discovering something about another character, by using dialogue to explain a part of the past you don’t break up from the current time line, and you also manage to keep the “live action” feel of a flash back.

I think the most important thing with back-story is knowing when it is and when it is not necessary. No matter how prettily you weave in a scene it will mean next to nothing if it doesn’t explain some vital point of the characters attitude, or pushes the plot in a new direction. Which, like I said before is the main reason I toss or keep back-story in my books.

So, in answer to your question about tips for dialouge I will say this:

1) Read some authors who have mastered the technique (I hate to pull Stephanie Meyer into this as I didn’t really like her “NYT best selling series” but her adult novel The Host is really something, and the Backstory weaving is phenomenal! Please do not skip over it because of her past titles; it really demonstrates her growth as a writer.)

2) Try using some dialogue to add back-story.

3) Do not use tons of flashbacks or info dumps in the first or second chapter! People want action now days and have little patient for meandering back-story, keep it short and concise (its kind of like cutting extra adjectives and adverbs, the more you can cut the better) save back story until after you have your readers hook, line, and sinker!

Hope I helped Haley, Keep on writing!

Anyone have anything else to say about backstory?

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2 Responses to “Blabbing About Back-Story”

  1. HaleyWhitehall January 21, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    We all have our preferences, strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing. Surprisingly, I’ve found more people who enjoy writing backstory than not. So I guess I’m in the minority.

    Thanks for the advice. I am currently trying to weave backstory into my current WIP through dialogue. It is working pretty well.

  2. nkeda14 January 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Yeah, the varity in the way different writers do things is amazing, and what makes writing so great in my opinion! 😀

    Glad I could help.

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