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Writerly Quotes: Character Backstory

©Stina Lindenblatt

With NaNoWriMo starting next week, I thought I’d pull out some quotes from my pile of writing craft books to help get you ready. Today, I’m focusing on character backstory.

A character flaw is a coping mechanism that arises from the loss of an original state of perfection that occurred in the character’s backstory. Her flaw is designed to compensate for a perceived vulnerability, sense of insecurity, and feeling threatened. No matter how confident, every major character demonstrates lessons learned from the wound inflicted in her backstory that is now lodged in her core belief system.

The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson

Backstory is just that—everything that happened before the story began—and is such it is the raw material from which all flashbacks are drawn. So what’s the difference between a flashback and waving in backstory? It’s simple. A flashback, being an actual scene complete with dialogue and action, stops the main storyline; weaving in backstory doesn’t. Backstory is, in fact, part of the present.

Neatly woven in, backstory is a mere snippet, a fragment of memory, or even an attitude born of something that happened in the past and runs through the protagonist’s mind as he experiences, and evaluates, what is happening to him in the present.

Wired For Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

Now, I want you to think about your backstory, the series of events that led up to your goals and dilemmas. Think about the TV series Lostand how it weaves in moments of backstory that affect present decisions. What are the moments leading to your pivotal life decisions? This will help you when you think about the backstory of the characters in your writing.

Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story by Jen Grisanti

Do you put a lot of time into figuring out your characters’ backstories before writing the first draft?

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Writerly Quotes: Character Backstory + writerly quotes