BACKSTORY – My Nemesis?

One of the reasons I love writing so much is the research it allows me to do–the tangents I can follow. I simply love learning and love the learning involved in creating a semi-fictional world like the one in Wendall’s Lullaby (and the follow-up).

file and notes and booksI do exhaustive research for my work–reading books, web searches, Wikipedia and flying around the world on Google Earth. I’ll even wade through scientific research papers when needed.

That research helps me formulate not just the plot, but what I would call the “back-plot.”

I put the same kind of exhaustive process into developing the characters and their lives. I need to know what they’ve been through in order to accurately write their reactions to the situations in which I put them. But I think that I put so much work–so much passion–into developing those stories that I chafe at not sharing them with the reader. That’s one of the reasons for the deep backstories of most of the main characters in my first novel.

I was prompted to think again about these aspects of my writing a bit more deeply today due to a new review of Wendall’s Lullaby posted on IndieReader (click here for the review). One of the critiques was that the deep backstories took away from the flow and speed of the story–and that while some of the backstory was necessary some was not.

That idea ties nicely into the simple definition of backstory I found on Wikipedia:

A backstory, background story, back-story, or background is a set of events invented for a plot, presented as preceding and leading up to that plot. It is a literary device of a narrative history all chronologically earlier than the narrative of primary interest.

I have to learn that backstory is just that–backstory. It is not “the narrative of primary interest.” And I need to use that precept to guide me–both in my use of backstory and back-plot.

It was another reminder that writing is a process–a learning process. Developing as a writer is a process. And, I’d like to thank everyone who has reviewed my first novel for helping me improve that work, develop my craft and for the better novels I will write in the future.

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~ by kipwkoelsch on September 22, 2017.

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