Monday, January 6, 2020

Focused Backstory

Learn how to write characters readers will love. Has an industry professional told you not to dump character history at the beginning of your story? If so, you aren't alone. But what's the solution to this common advice? Most writers take the time to design interesting characters with troubled pasts. They long for readers to care about the characters' lives. However, the sad truth is on page one, readers don't care―yet. That's why industry gurus tell writers to stop overusing character history, also called backstory, at the beginning of stories. Have you ever wondered…How to use backstory correctly? What are the ways other writers successfully incorporate backstory into their work? Do tools exist to help writers better plan stories so the backstory isn't such a problem? In Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys, you'll find answers to these questions and more. You'll learn how to avoid the dreaded info-dump and instead, harness curiosity so readers keep turning pages. This resource breaks down focused backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story no matter what genre or length. Worksheets, tables, questionnaires, and templates will help you plan an engaging story with deep characters. Examples from popular stories will help you understand this method.You'll learn how to •design a character around a troubled past. •create additional characters around the main character. •weave interesting sub-plots within a characters' journey toward healing. •design proper obstacles which interfere with characters' goals. •guide readers' emotions so they have a satisfying reading experience. It doesn't matter which genre you write. All the characters worth reading about, even those in memoir and biography, have backstories that bring pain they must reconcile so they can become new. Don't believe me? Producers base reality television shows on this idea. Consider the woman whose baby died. Now she overeats to punish herself. There's the woman whose husband and son died in her house, so she hoards to bury the pain. What about the unloved bachelor who gets one more chance at love? Can you see it?Unsuccessful stories have something in common. They lack focused backstory. In these stories, characters may vaguely mention what happened in the past, but they don't fight or claw to forgive or acknowledge the pain over which they crave victory. As a result, viewers, or readers, care little about these stories. They might hang in there for the final kiss and feel-good scene, but they'll probably say the story was cheesy and forget about it. We want more for our writing, so we need focused backstory. Consider this quote about falling in love written by William Shakespeare."But that I know love is begun by time, and that I see, in passages of proof, time qualifies the spark and fire of it." ― HamletIf you use focused backstory, it will give the reader time to fall in love with the characters so they long to know more. No matter what kind of writer you are, if you take the time to analyze the use of backstory, it will enhance your style. Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys is the missing gadget in your writing tool kit.

My thoughts: While I have thought it would be enjoyable to write fiction, I haven't pursued it since getting out of school. If I ever did decide to write fiction, then I would need a book like this one on hand to help me write relatable characters. Carol breaks things down in such a way that helps would be authors write well rounded characters who are easy to relate to. I like how she draws from Enneagram personalities, something I have been learning about recently. This is a valuable resource!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:

Carol Alwood has an unending passion for fiction, and she can’t think of a better way to spend her life than writing books for young adults and teaching about techniques she has learned along the way. With a Master of Education, experience as a content editor, and over a decade of establishing and working with critique groups, she is an excellent resource. An award-winning author, Carol finds joy in helping writers find the right tools to plan, draft and revise their novels so they can achieve excellence in storytelling.

More from Carol
Focused Backstory resulted from a personal quest to please industry critics who suggested I keep character history out of the first pages of my novels. My initial questions to this advice were: What? Why? I searched for resources to figure out how to write a more powerful beginning without relying on the past but found little help. On a mission to find answers, I studied popular books, television and movies to abstract what made stories work and — boom! I found it! We can break down backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story without compromising artistry. This book provides definitions, examples, worksheets, templates, and comics to help writers study the art of using powerful character histories to keep readers turning pages. I’m so excited to offer this resource and hope it will empower your writing as it has mine.

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To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
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