I realize that it’s been a while. A long while. But junior year is finally wrapping up and I should have more time to focus on this blog and writing. To catch you up, I’m still working on my current novel Turncoats, even though I’m only at about 53,000 words. It’s disappointing, I know, but school has really taken its toll and I’ve had little time to work on much else. I’ve also written a short film, which I hope to direct, produce, and act in over the summer. I’m planning on talking more about that for my next post, so I’ll keep you posted. This post, however, is going to be able how to use backstory in your story.
I think it’s really important to find out where your characters come from. Without their backstory, it’s hard to discover your characters’ motivations, and quite frankly, their personalities. My favorite place to start with this is your character’s parents. Your character’s childhood and upbringing is something extremely important. Lessons that are taught by our parents often stuck with us for the rest of our lives and your character is no exception. Discover who your character’s parents are. What was their relationship with your character like? What is their worldview? Their heritage? Their religion. While this may seem like a lot of extra work, I promise you that your characters will start to fall into place. Look at yourself, for example. How much of what you believe and how you act is a result of your parents? Our parents never leave us and you’ll be able to fully flesh out your character if you find out where they came from.
In improv, there’s something called Talking Head Syndrome. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What does improv have to do writing? You actually be surprised about how acting and writing feed off each other, but that’s another blog post. Talking Head Syndrome is when two characters just talk to each other. The setting is nondescript, which can really kill a scene, but half the fun of improv is discovering your surroundings and using them to your advantage. This is also true in writing. To create a fully developed story, you must understand the backstory of the world you’ve created. Understanding the history of your world and how your world works is extremely important as it is easy to make contradictory mistakes when you’re writing. I know that while writing my last novel, which I am now in the process of editing, I would mention a god, but would then I could not remember what they controlled. This time around, I have a One Note (this is an amazing organization program that I absolutely love. I use it for everything from school to writing) notebook with a worldbuilding section. There, for each one of my countries (I have eight countries) I used worldbuilding questions (these are my personal favorites: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/ ) to create a profile of the culture and geography of each country. It’s extremely helpful when trying to remember small details (What was the name of that mountain range again?) to making sure each of the cultures I created was unique (From large overarching ideas like religion to smaller cultural things like greetings). I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it’s completely worth it. There’s no way that J.K. Rowling didn’t plan out every aspect of Hogwarts- how else would she have created such a rich and detailed world? By planning out your world’s backstory, you’ll be creating a fully immersive world that your readers will want to get lost in.
I know this post is on the shorter side, but I hope that as the school year comes to an end, I’ll be able to update more often. Like I said earlier, my next post will be about the short film I’m currently working on, so stay tuned!