This week’s show is about writing backstory, both generally and for recurring series characters.
When you’re creating your characters, and you know they have this huge history just remember … all the reader really needs to know is what matters in the moment. — Taylor
Hi, Steve here! This week’s episode came out of a conversation that Taylor and I had following the recording of last week’s show. I made a comment, then Taylor starting teaching and then asked, “Hey, is the recorder running?” It wasn’t, but I turned it on, and she began again, which is where we pick up the teaching part of this show on writing backstory.
As Taylor explains during the show, it’s a balancing act the author must perform, giving first-time readers just enough information to understand the character’s motivation without annoying long-time readers who already know the character’s history.
Taylor explains the way she weaves backstory into her novels in small chunks, from the perspective of the character as a way of creating that all-important tension for the story. Then she shares the story of how her agent influenced the way she incorporates backstory in her novels now.
Taylor then shared that she keeps a notecard on her desk that she turns to when she’s mired in the muck of writing and isn’t clear on what the reader needs to see in a scene. Taylor holds the car up for us in the image to the left. The five things on the card are:
- Whose eyes are we seeing this from?
- Where are we?
- Who are the characters?
- What is the conflict?
- What are the key points this scene must convey?
All excellent points, and I’ve made a similar card for my writing desk!
Since this week brings the start of the Summer Olympics, we open the show with a discussion of the Olympics and Taylor shares which Olympic sports she’d most like to be good at for both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Her choice for the Winter Olympics is figure skating, “of course” but for the Summer Olympics, she surprised me by choosing swimming or equestrian sports “that don’t involve broken bones.”
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