Backstory in perspective

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Backstory

If you’ve been here a little while, you know that I’m a big fan of Alicia Rasley (and her co-blogger, Theresa Stevens, of course). I’m knee deep in revisions for the rest of the month, and Alicia goes and posts a great article on backstory. How can I not “reblog”?

A preview (emphasis and image added):

We know we need [backstory], so make it work. Part of the problem is that "layered-on" backstory (that which is meant to make the reader feel sorry for the character or understand some motivation) often ends up just being contrived— the rivets are showing, and the reader can feel the extraneousness of it. "Right, right, she was orphaned and we’re supposed to feel sorry for her. Got it." . . .

This makes the character and backstory work together for coherence. But the coherence requires us as writers taking the backstory we invent seriously, and imagining what it would REALLY cause in this particular person. That is, stop thinking of it as "backstory" and start thinking of it as "her/his past".

Read the rest: edittorrent: Coherence in backstory

What do you think? How can we take backstory more seriously and use it better?

Photo by Todd J

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