A Writer’s Comprehensive Guide to Backstory

Hello, welcome to Everything You Need to Know About Backstory! I’m K.M. Weiland, and you are listening to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast or watching it because this is also a video post. This video is in answer to a question from SW, who asked: “I’m interested in how you figure out how to […]

5 Ways to Use Your Character’s Shadows to Power Your Story

Complex characters mirror real-life humans in their contradictions of inner light and dark. As writers, it is our job to create these contrasts in ways that become cohesive and thematically meaningful. One of the simplest—and most effective—ways to do this is to explore shadow theory. In last week’s post, we talked about the concept of […]

The Backstory Drip (Backstory Techniques, Pt. 3 of 3)

What are the best backstory techniques you can use in your story? Over the past two weeks, we’ve been discussing some of the options writers have for sharing backstory in their stories. So far, we’ve talked about four specialized techniques, analyzing their respective advantages, disadvantages and best-use practices: Flashbacks Prologues Backstory-as-Story Alternating Timelines All four […]

Backstory-as-Story vs. Alternating Timelines (Backstory Techniques, Pt. 2 of 3)

Backstory techniques are crucial to the success of any type of story. Whether you share all of your characters’ pertinent backstories or none, backstory still informs the entire story. What, when, and how to share backstory are important decisions for any writer. Making the right choices will determine not just whether or not your backstory works, but possibly […]

Prologues vs. Flashbacks (Backstory Techniques, Pt. 1 of 3)

If you want to rev up a group of passionate writers, just bring up the topic of backstory. As much as we love our stories, we often love our backstories even more. If plot offers a what and a how, backstory is often the why. It can provide both context and subtext, bringing depth, understanding, and […]

7 Tips for How to Add Complexity to Your Story

So you want to add complexity to your story. Most authors do. Complexity just sounds so… sophisticated. It sounds like one of those novels or films that are taken apart and analyzed by really smart critics and professors. It sounds like taking your story to the next level. And in some ways, it is. Complex […]

7 Tips for Opening Your Story In Medias Res

In medias res is the useful but sometimes tricky writing technique of beginning your story “in the middle” of things. At its most basic, this is simply a solid reminder to begin your story with something happening. This might be action in the traditional sense, but it might also just be the character moving toward […]

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7 Things Your Character Is Hiding

Being able to write realistic, consistent, multi-dimensional characters is vital to gaining reader interest. Doing so first requires we know a lot about who our characters are—you know, the obvious stuff: positive and negative traits, behavioral habits, desires, goals, and the like. But it’s not always the obvious parts of characterization that create the most […]

The 10-Step Checklist to Writing an Above-Average Novel

“Anybody can write a novel.” Writers sometimes hear that statement from dismissive non–writer family and friends. Rightfully, we dislike the insinuation, since we know full well how much education, talent, skill, effort, and dedication is required for “anybody” to write a novel. Still, there is a certain measure of truth in the idea that “anybody can […]

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions

The amazing thing about being a writer is that you get to be part of a writing community. Especially now, in the Internet age, you have access not just to the writings of the great minds who have gone before, but also to the shared wisdom, common sense, commiseration, and encouragement of all your contemporaries. If […]