Great Tips for Backstory in Your Novel

Writing the backstory for your character can be a bit tricky. You never want to be too wordy. Telling the story of your character should be smooth and effortless. Of course, that is not the case with my writing which is why a lot of revision is necessary. Author Paul Bishop at Venture Galleries has some great tips for creating backstory for your characters. Stop by for a visit.

Back Story (Parker novel)

Back Story (Parker novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you do about the back story?

MY FIRST NOVEL (Shroud of Vengeance) was part of an ongoing adult western series (think Louis LAmour with sex scenes) featuring a character named Diamondback. The editor gave me the bible for the series providing the limited information needed as part of the characters backstory: Diamondback got his nickname after being the victim of a horrible whipping, he is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit, he wanders the west acting as a traveling judge settling disputes between outlaws and he is very, very popular with the ladies.

It was pretty simple to include this information as part of the ongoing series of books, which could be read in any order without any intrusive information dumps or large chunks of narrative explanation. Drop the nickname on the first page, show his scars when he takes off his shirt for the first sex scene, and tie the plot into a dispute between dangerous outlaws for Diamondback to settle. With series of this type, the main character remains static. There are no consequences or character arcs to carry over from one book to the next. READ MORE HERE.

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Story Checklists That Work

I always seem to need a little help on keeping track of the events that should take place while I am writing. I visited a screenwriters site and the checklist provided is very helpful. Take a look at Alexandra Sokoloff.

Story Elements checklist

I was teaching this Screenwriting Tricks for Authors class at the Jubilee Jambalaya Writers Conference this past weekend and I compiled a list of all the story structure elementsI’ve been breaking down (okay, I’ve undoubtedly left some out…).I thought I’d post it here, too.It’s a great list to use when you’re brainstorming index cards, because even if you don’t know the exact scenes yet, you can write the elements on cards and stick them into your story structure grid in relative order and feel like you’ve done a whole day’s work. Hah!

No, what I really mean is, when you’re writing out cards for just general story elements, it, you will be shocked at how great scenes suddenly come to you that will fill in huge gaps in your story. If not right that second, then after you sleep on it, or a few days later.

The post on doing index cards is here, and I’ve linked to more in-depth discussions on each individual act, too.

STORY ELEMENTS CHECKLIST FOR GENERATING INDEX CARDS

ACT ONE

– Opening image
– Meet the hero or heroine
– Hero/ine’s inner and outer desire.
– Hero/ine’s ghost or wound
– Hero/ine’s arc
-
– Inciting Incident/Call to Adventure
– Meet the antagonist (and/or introduce a mystery, which is what you do when you’re going to keep your antagonist hidden to reveal at the end)
– State the theme/what’s the story about?
– Allies
– Mentor
 (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story).
– Love interest
– Plant/Reveal (or: Set ups and Payoffs)
– Hope/Fear (and Stakes)
– Time Clock (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story)
– Sequence One climax
– Central Question
-
– Act One climax

READ MORE HERE!

Travel And Write With Amtrak

 

#AMTRAKRESIDENCY: APPLICATION FORM

Amtrak is excited to announce the official launch of the #AmtrakResidency program.

#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015.  A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.

Residencies will be anywhere from 2-5 days, with exceptions for special projects.

There is no cost to apply for the #AmtrakResidency program. For more information, please read our Official Terms.

 

How Do You Exercise Your Brain To Write?

If you are not exercising your brain and building its muscle for writing, you might be missing out on some very important stimulation and information. Over at the Elephant Journal, Kim Haas has some great tips to share that she discovered when practicing her yoga.

 

 

5 Things My Yoga Practice has Brought to My Writing Practice. ~ Kim Haas

I’ve been writing for close to 30 years and practicing yoga for less than two.

But, as soon as I hit my mat, I could see the connection between the two practices and knew that the alchemy of both yoga and writing would be powerful.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Presence

Yoga is teaching me to be in the moment, whether it’s on my mat or off. Writing deserves nothing but my fullest, most focused attention I can bring to the page.

2. Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Practicing through tears, through challenging sensations in my body, in my heart, in my mind…yoga is teaching me to stay there, in those dark, uncomfortable places. Writing also takes me to those kinds of places. Before yoga, I might’ve found that the refrigerator suddenly needed to be cleaned from top to bottom rather than stay at my desk. Now, I’m learning to stay there. Stay on the page, stay with the discomfort and let the story that needs to be told, be told. Read more here.

 

7 Fears Of Writing

I am a writer who has a lot of fears. It’s a good thing I can ghostwrite and avoid the bone picking that I fear the most. No one wants to be the victim of readers not liking what they had to say. But, on the other hand, noting ventured nothing gained. So, here is a post from Sylvia Ney at Write Me A World who has summoned up 7 fears and how to ignore them.

Fear terror eye

Fear terror eye (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Writers often express common fears when talking with agents, editors, and other authors. The advice I offer below is based in part on my own experience and in part on interviews I have completed with agents and editors. Read more here.