Backstory

Is everyone ready for the holidays? Hanukkah starts pretty early this year, and I still haven’t finished my shopping. Total mom-fail, right? Right now, I’m wrapping up the second installment of The Way of Thieves and Liars series, tentatively titled: The Way of Fools and Traitors. This manuscript has passed the 200k mark, so even with heavy chopping, it’s gonna be a meaty read.

Let’s talk a little today about using backstories for character development. For me, knowing my characters well is essential to a fast draft. Even if I don’t feature a character’s backstory in my project, having a full understanding of their childhood, family dynamics, traumas, victories, and other elements helps me keep their characterization consistent—no matter what the plot throws at them, I know how they‘ll react.

As a reader, I love discovering a character’s motivation after the fact. That style of reveal creates an ah-ha moment for me I simply can’t get enough of—especially if the author wove subtle clues through the story, like a trail of breadcrumbs. Extra points for red-herrings that throw me off track. Suffice to say, it’s an element of characterization I often employ in my own work. When creating backstories, I do so with this reveal in mind.

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