Brainstorming the Wound in Your Character's Backstory

Brainstorming the Wound in Your Character’s Backstory

I’ve spent the better part of the last year digging into the topic of character wounds or “Ghosts.” If this topic sounds familiar, it might be because Angela Ackerman and I (among others) have been yammering about it to anyone who will listen. The wound is a fascinating and vital piece of your characters’ pasts, […]

The Only Reason Your Story Should Have Flashbacks

The Only Reason Your Story Should Have Flashbacks

Writers love their flashbacks. And with good reason. Flashbacks are a multi-functional technique for stepping outside your story’s timeline and sharing interesting and informative nuggets about your characters’ pasts. But just as they can be used to strengthen your story, they can even more easily cripple it. First things first: what is a flashback? A flashback […]

The #1 Key To Relatable Characters: Backstory

The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

Part 10 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Ever stop to think about why you enjoy backstory? I receive lots of questions from writers about backstory, most of it along the lines of: I love my backstory soooo much. How can I cram as much as possible of it into the main story? I […]

The #1 Problem With Backstory (and Its Simple Fix)

The #1 Problem With Backstory (and Its Simple Fix)

There’s a problem with backstory? Among writers that’s a rhetorical question. We all know there are lots of potential problems with backstory—everything from where to put it in the story to how much of it we should even be sharing with readers in the first place. But before you can start worrying about any of […]

Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Give You a Better (and Darker) Backstory

This week’s video shows you how to approach a dark character backstory fearlessly—and make your story all the better for it. Video Transcript: Here’s something sad I’ve noticed about many writers—myself included: we talk a good talk about character backstory, but we don’t always back that up with a good walk. Mostly, what I mean […]

The Only Rule About Backstory That Matters

The Only Rule About Backstory That Matters

This week’s video learn how to write backstory that matters to your story and entrances readers with its possibilities. Video Transcript: I get a lot of questions about backstory: How much should you include? Where should you put in your book? When should you put it? And these are all really good questions. Backstory is […]

How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading

How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading

Today, I’m guest posting over on Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog, with the post  “How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading.” Here’s an excerpt: Backstory is a weapon. And just like any weapon, it can end up doing more harm than good to those who wield it without proper experience and care. But in the hands of […]

Is Your Novel's Backstory Big Enough?

Is Your Novel’s Backstory Big Enough?

This week’s video encourages writers not to skimp on important (and fun) backstory. Video Transcript: With all the superhero movies going around these days, there are a lot of origin stories. And I gotta say: I love that. I love origin stories, not just because they’re a fun glimpse into the beginning stages of a familiar character, but […]

How to Tell if You Should Show Your Character’s Backstory

In other recent posts, we’ve discussed the value of backstory, even to the point of writing your backstory as your story when it’s the more interesting of the two. But generally speaking that’s going to be the exception to the rule. Backstory is actually at its most powerful when we don’t tell it—or rather when we don’t […]

When Your Backstory Becomes Your Story

Backstory is called backstory for the very reason that it belongs in back of the story. It’s not the point of the story; it’s only, in a sense, the explanation for the story. So, naturally, you’re always careful not to let the backstory take over. You’re alert to its sneaky attempts to horn in and […]