Sunday, March 1, 2009

Behind the Story


One of the things that helped me get past this block was digging into the back story. But not for my main character.

I know my main character, but I didn’t know his parents. In every other MG that I’ve written, the parents played so small a role I didn’t need to know much about them. In this one, I’m dealing with events that take place when the MC is really young, so he is affected by choices his parents make. In order for those choices to make sense, I had to get to know them. Most of the information will never show up in the novel, but knowing their back story has sparked the novel in ways I didn’t think possible. Without their story to motivate him, my MC was floating uselessly and making no sense. And believe me, having everything make sense has been exhilarating beyond belief!!

I realize I’m not the first person to discover the importance of back story. But I am curious to know how much it factors in to the planning for other people. How much back story do you develop on your minor characters?

9 comments:

Lady Glamis said...

I have tons and tons of back story for all of my characters, even the lesser characters. It makes a huge difference in how you know the characters and how you write them. I just can't see them coming alive without that knowledge. Great post! I may have to steal this subject sometime. :)

I'm glad you've discovered more about your character so you can keep moving forward!

PJ Hoover said...

Probably not enough. But I also like to improvise the backstory as I write the main story, and then put it to use during revisions.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I make it all up as I go along. And I do find backstory for some of my secondaries. Usually it comes as a surprise to me and I have to go back and tweak a few earlier passages to make it all make sense. That's kind of what I'm doing now - making it all make sense.

Kelly said...

I'm a picture book/poetry gal so I haven't done too much thinking about backstory yet... Good luck!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Glam -- I'm impressed that you do so much back story. I have to admit, I was surprised by how much it helped...and it was fun, too!

PJ -- I guess that's kind of what I'm doing!

Sarah -- I was surprised too, and that made it so much fun to "discover" so much about these people

Kelly -- When I started doing back story on a picture book, it turned into a novel! Not sure what that means...

beckylevine said...

It didn't have much to do with my first book (maybe it should have!), but it's playing a huge role in this one. It's the complete cause, really, of the choices my MC has to face.

It's HUGE, too, in Me, The Missing, and The Dead--so I think you'll really like that when you get it. :)

Kelly H-Y said...

With picture books, I haven't delved into that too much, but I think it's a fascinating and very valid point!!! Glad it's been working for you!

Suzanne Casamento said...

I find that a lot of times the backstory comes out as I write. Little secrets and details will pop up that I didn't even know and slowly those stories build and start to make sense.

So glad you're feeling exhilerated!

Vivian said...

Backstory helps things click into focus. It helps me figure out character motivations and reactions. Glad you were able to unearth more backstory!

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