As Editorial Assistant Grace Thiele says in her blog post on creating backstory, “emotional conflict is the true beating heart of romance, and characters cannot be conflicted without having actually lived. Without a real emotional journey, and complex, rounded characters that we believe will be genuinely changed by love, the reader cannot be satisfied by the Happy Ever After.”
Maybe you’ve been told by an editor that there’s “too much backstory” in your opening chapters. But your backstory is great! It’s emotional, dramatic, and clearly explains your characters’ motivations.
Imagine you’re on a first date. Your companion is smart, sexy, accomplished – and boring. He’s so focused on making sure you know everything important about him – why he went to art school, how his years in foster care affected him emotionally, everything his ex-wife did wrong – that not only has your date become one long monologue where your presence is barely required, but there’s no mystery left to explore.
Your challenge this week? Write a short scene that tells the reader something about the hero’s or heroine’s backstory without stopping the action of the scene. Remember, we don’t need to know everything about the characters’ past – just enough to explain what they’re doing now.
Tip: Try to avoid translating your backstory into dialogue. We sometimes see this in movies and t.v. shows, where one character explains something to another character that they would already know. For example: “Tiffany, you’ve taken care of Alex and me since Mom died of breast cancer last December, even letting us move in with you and your husband, Dean.”
For more on creating backstory, check out Grace’s post.
Ready for the challenge? Comment here! Add your scene by midnight Sunday, September 25 and we’ll get back to you with feedback after the weekend!