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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dealing With Backstory

Part of a special month-long event featuring writing tips and NaNoWriMo strategies from guest writers and fellow NaNo participants.

With NaNoWriMo in a full swing, I’d like to blog about one of the aspects new writers often stumble with and that’s a backstory.

Backstory is a type of writing (or speech) used to convey information or to explain. It is handled in the same way as any other type of information that you need to feed the reader. The backstory is often revealed through flashbacks or through dialogue where one or more characters reflect on past events. However if the backstory gets incorporated into the action (rather than stopping to dump information), it won’t read as author’s need to stop the flow of the story to fill us in on this bits of info. It can be challenging to find subtler ways to give the reader backstory.

I’ve read many prologues giving us the history of some devastation that had occurred in the past that caused humans to turn into zombies. Instead why not show the characters carrying detectors, avoiding infected areas, taking care of the newly arrived refuges, listening stories, and leaving flowers at the memorial for all those that died. Wait until the reader is dying to find out how your world got so messed up before you let any of the characters discuss the series of events that destroyed all medical facilities and put the end on the developed world.

The reader should hold all the pieces of the puzzle, so that when the time comes for revealing details, you're can fill in the remaining details in a few paragraphs or sentences.

As another example, let's say the backstory you're trying to convey is that your heroine was raised by an abusive parent who left her alone, hungry and cold for days on end. Later, she was put in foster care as a teen after her parents were found guilty of child neglect.

Show the heroine being apprehensive to authority figures. Let us see her quiver if she left alone in the room and that she's so afraid of the dark she can only fall asleep with the lights on. Through interior monologue the reader should find out she believes deep down, she deserved to be punished. Show her abhorrence to alcohol because she’d seen her parents come home drunk and what that did to them, and her. If her friend (or a date) later in life offers her some wine she not only turns it down, but picks a fight with the characters who do enjoy an occasional glass. The reader should see all of her behaviors that the heroine formed as a result of the backstory, so that when you finally reach the climax where she's trapped someplace with the hero and she reluctantly admits that her parents drank and abused or neglected her, the reader says, "Of course!" No flashback or lengthy conversational rehash needed.

By Zrinka Jelic:

Love Remains
Release date: 15 July 2013
Paranormal
Sensuality Level: Sensual

Get your copies: 

Olivia Owen, a busy, single, high-functioning, corporate executive officer, is not afraid to die a spinster for the sake of her career. But in an alternate reality world, bridged by the angel of her Down’s syndrome sister, she meets Tom Medar, a dedicated, Croatian defense attorney who dreams of the right woman, but never has time to find her. Together they foil an adulterous murder plot while discovering there’s room for love and family in their busy lives—but not before they are separated again.
When they awaken from their alternate world, will they be able to cross countries to find each other again?

by Zrinka Jelic
“In Love Remains, Ms. Jelic has once again written a highly imaginative paranormal romance with believable characters who are both flawed and compassionate and a plot that will keep you guessing until the end.” — Debbie Christiana, author of Twin Flames and Solstice.

“Zrinka Jelic has achieved a high level of success with her time-travel story, Love Remains. Olivia had a difficult job, chopping employees’ heads, and then to travel to another dimension where she had a husband and children was felling. However, as with any Jelic story, the romance is strong and I was happy to travel with Tom and Olivia. At the end of life isn’t that what we seek—the warmth of love?” — jj Keller, Trade Agreement, LASR Best Book



2 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today on your blog, Rose. It's always sto exciting to reach out to new audience.

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    1. Thanks so much for being here to share your great advice!

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