1. _Lulu_
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    _Lulu_ Member

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    Backstory.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by _Lulu_, Jun 12, 2011.

    I'm stuck. I have a situation that starts when my MC is 15. However, the story will be written when she's 18+. It is a crucial moment in her life and needs to be there. I don't really want to use flashbacks and needs to be in the start of the story but it's not strong enough for it to be a chapter and then fast forward however many years, especially as my opening chapter is when she's in her early 20's and then it would skip back and tell her story from when she was 18.


    So what I'm asking is... tbh, I don't even know what I'm asking as my mind is that muddled at the moment.

    Do you have any obvious tips that I'm currently blind to?

    Also, how do you find your ways with important backstory? how much is too much and how little is too little?

    *confused*
     
  2. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's hard to advise, as we don't know what the story is about.

    My question is if it's a 'crucial' event in the girl's life, why doesn't it warrant its own chapter? Why do you think it's not strong enough for that?

    In the end you need to decide where you want to start. Either make the event interesting enough and make it chapter 1, or find a way to incorporate it later on. It depends how soon you want the reader to know what happened at age 15.

    As for backstory, I think it works best if it is sprinkled into the story and revealed as and when needed, bit by bit, not only in prose but via dialogue too. Don't have huge chunks of unnecessary backstory which doesn't drive the story forward.

    I say this because I used to struggle with this at one time. I thought there were all these many things 'the reader' needs to know before the story even gets going good and proper. I was wrong.

    Someone read the first ms I completed in 2004, and told me to 'get rid of the boring backstory section', which was a good 5,000 words. My question was - how can I? But then I thought about it, and realised I could straight out delete quite a bit of it, and everything else could be incorporated in other, better ways throughout the book.

    My advice would be to just keep writing and then you can always go back & revise, or delete if needed. :)
     
  3. _Lulu_
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    _Lulu_ Member

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    ^ Thanks :)

    I guess I did contradict my self a bit there with 'crucial' and 'not important enough' from the point of view of others. Well, basically it's a situation with somebody that all seems a bit weird but somewhat normal perhaps from her pov, only then later in life she see's and understands from a different perspective. This situation and it's meaning is based on true events too, I think that may have a lot to do with it being in the story somewhere.

    You're right though, I guess all I have to do is just keep writing and it will come to me naturally.

    I am a bit of a perfectionist and to me that's a curse! *le sigh*
     
  4. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suggest writing down everything first and finish the story. That way you'll see if a part is good enoug to last an entire chapter, of if you need to merge it into the rest of the story somehow.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Never write backstory. If it's a past moment that is truly important to the story, then it is story, and you will need to insert a back reference to it.

    Your character could recall the moment in relation to a present day stimulus, or tell another character. Another character may bave been there, and mentions it in the present. Your character could wake in a cold sweat, having dreamed about it - either show the dream fragment before he or she wakes, or have the character remember bits and pieces from the dream.

    Or you could insert a chapter that goes back in time, if the event is detailed enough to warrant it.

    But never write backstory. Never step out of the present longer than necessary. Resist the temptation to tell more because it's cool and adds depth. Stick to the story you are telling, and leave the reader hungry for more.
     
  6. _Lulu_
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    _Lulu_ Member

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    Thank you :)

    Thanks :) yeah that's exactly what I don't want to do. That moment is specific so I don't want to write a load of useless scenes and whatnot just because I don't know how to fit that moment in.

    I guess like everyone has said, I just have to keep writing. I'll do some more brainstorming and see if it can stand as a chapter as that is my preference. Other than that, being a dream could work and also my MC telling someone of the situation is an option.

    Thanks guys for your help.
     
  7. CottonCandi
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    CottonCandi Active Member

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    How about she remembers in her dreams at nite?
     
  8. SteamWolf
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    SteamWolf Senior Member

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    Having a character she can tell the story to is another method.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I tend not to like using dreams in this manner. For one thing, dreams rarely happen that way. For another, stories usually need to be told in an orderly and logical fashion and dreams by their nature are not orderly or logical. I don't have a problem with flashbacks as long as they serve the story being told.
     
  10. _Lulu_
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    Thanks for the tips!

    This morning as I got out of the bath, it came to me so I scribbled it in my notebook and the events prior that too :D

    She will be told something in an argument, afterwards either that night when going to bed or when the other person has left it'll dawn on her about what that day meant, so it will come out in her thoughts as she will replay it in her mind.

    The person she's having an argument with is a new character (he would've been an invisble one before or just some minor parts) but he can really bring the story up a level with his scheming. I'm pleased with how her situation will be told now without putting in backstory or infodump. :)
     
  11. ImaginaryRobot
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    Maybe this is too late and you've already solved your problem, but I'll throw it out there anyway. Think about where your story starts. There are many times when a crucial event from the past isn't really where the story you are trying to tell really begins. Instead the story starts when something about the consequences of that action precipitates a major change in your character's life.

    A good example is "A History of Violence" (either the film or the graphic novel). Tom Stall used to be a killer, but his story begins when the consequences of that past (in the form of two killers) find him in his new life. The details of his old life are intensely relevant to the story, but they are not the beginning of his story. Think of it like a veneer cracking and revealing the material underneath.
     
  12. _Lulu_
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    _Lulu_ Member

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    No not too late :) you're right though and that's exactly why I didn't want the story to start from there. It's later when the problems begin she will realise that was the first clue that it was something more than what it seemed. It's inspired by a true event so it's important to have that bit included in especially as it's part of the realisation and understanding of the situation. Thank you :)
     

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