Thursday, April 13, 2017

Is Your Back Story Sabotaging Your Novel?

From Jane Friedman:
I often see manuscripts where the writer has invented a detailed and dramatic back story for a character, but the main story events lack impact and substance. There is no meat left for the book’s real-time plot and so the novel seems empty and static. Of course, the story may be precisely that; the character might be coming to terms with past mistakes. The focus might be the finer detail of living with a burden, or leaving behind a golden period that is gone forever. But just as often, this approach is not deliberate and the writer is scrabbling around, trying to find stuff for the characters to do. They don’t realize they’ve already got fantastic ideas, but hidden them in the back story. Could that back story be used as a fully fleshed flashback so the reader could participate? Or, more radically, could those same ideas be extracted from the past and reworked as a forward-moving plot? Consider whether your back story ideas should be front story. (Read more.)

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