Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Backstory

Tuesday, June 23rd

Today we talked about backstory in class. Our teacher said it’s one of the most boring classes we have, but the reality is she has to talk about the boring stuff so we can write the exciting stuff. Otherwise all you got is a big steaming pile of poo.

One of the points we hit on today is backstory needs to be released through controlled, small active events within the story. My favorite phrase: “We don’t need a long, musing story bit about the character.” This reminded me of the romance writer’s dilemma (I want to credit Donald Maas with this story). Romance writers often bemoan how their sales don’t climb the charts, but many of them, when faced with a character’s dilemma, sit their characters down and muse over tea. And then they wonder why they can’t break out or up in their genre.

I think the talk about backstory is incredibly useful; it’s a point that I drove home to myself with my very first attempt at writing my novel; woof. You can talk about backstory until the cows come home, but it’s another case where the proof is in the pudding. I think my biggest problem isn’t being convinced to take huge chunks in, but practicing weaving small bits in. So many things that we do in writing take time; I feel glad that it doesn’t make me feel exhausted thinking about all of the writing work, but rather I’m becoming more focused and excited again.

4 comments:

lizzie said...

Interesting post. I tend to tell the baqck story too fast and then have to think of another one to follow on.

Lady Glamis said...

I've been dealing with A LOT of backstory issues in my book. It's crazy! But yes, weaving it in is often better. And leaving it out is often the answer, too. It's a tough, tough balance know what information is really needed.

Um, can you make your type larger? I had to squint to read this post... and I LOVE your posts, but my eyes hurt. :(

ElanaJ said...

Very, very true. We much become master backstory weavers to be good storytellers.

Danyelle said...

I agree with weaving the backstory in a little at a time. I think it (backstory) can become a very powerful tool to the story if done right. :D