Using Backstory Effectively

This will help all of you who talked about flashbacks and backstory being so all important. This is a good one.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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All righty. So we have been discussing “flashbacks” and I have been working hard to pull this blanket term apart because not everything that shifts back in time is the dreaded “training wheel flashback” that make us editors break out in hives. New writers love to shift back and forth in time because they are weak at plotting and characterization and “flashbacks” often serve to prop up these weak spots.

Um, like training wheels.

Before we get into non-linear plotting, I would like to talk about backstory. Often we feel the need to include a lot of backstory right in the beginning because we just simply don’t trust that the reader will “get it.” Sometimes this will be delivered through going back in time so we need to talk about it.

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Our goal in fiction is to hook early and hook deep. GUT HOOK. Get as close to the inciting…

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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2 Responses to Using Backstory Effectively

  1. Staci Troilo says:

    You know that was a problem with my early writing efforts. It’s a good reminder to know that, yes, your readers are smart enough to get it without an early info dump. (Provided you reveal details properly, sprinkled throughout the story.)

    I look at it like this: When you meet someone for the first time, they don’t (hopefully) tell you their life’s story. You learn about them piece by piece, innocuous tidbits to deep personal truths. Meeting our fictional characters should be the same way. A little mystery makes a person that much more interesting, anyway. I like to fall in love with the characters as I read. I don’t like to be told on page one that these people are amazing and these seventeen reasons are why.

    • I feel the same way, Staci. Kristen is adept at teaching and showing rather than telling what she’s trying to put across. She has a powerful writer’s blog. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.

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