On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Backstory is how much of the character's lives you put in a manuscript (or synopsis). Most beginning writers go on and on and on with backstory instead of beginning the story at the right spot. The best rule about backstory is put in only enough that the reader must know at that particular point.

On the other hand, in paranormal writing, you MUST explain your "world" or have readers getting lost. Earlier this year I did a couple of critiques for a charity, and went into great depth. Like a lot of things, it was easier to see MY OWN MISTAKES when someone else did them. Like not getting the things in your head on the page. For one critique, I kept marking that she needed to explain MORE, and that was true for her paranormal story.

Of course, getting what's in your head on the page doesn't only apply to paranormal -- there's motivation (most importantly) -- why a character acts as s/he does. This needs to be crystal clear. Choreography, people moving from one place to another, should be clear. Setting should be clear -- though if you don't get the set up right, it usually doesn't matter unless it's a really big clue in a mystery or something.

So that's my rambling for today.
Love to all,


Blogger moonhart said...

*Backstory Slut Alert*

I LOVE backstory. But I need to constantly remind myself that it is BACKstory not THE story. Earlier in my writing career, I had this habit of going off on tangents that were interesting, but did not move the story forward.

I remember one story where I obscessed over the character fingering rosary beads. I went on and on about how they belonged to his mother and what they looked like etc, etc, like for about 2K or so. My CP asked, "Er...where is the story?" LOL!

Taught me a great lesson about writing -- that while the author may know ALL the backstory, the reader doesn't need to. And better to dribble it in and have them piece it together themselves.

But I really do LOVE backstory since it is directly related to character motivation and I am stickler for that as well.



7:22 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

You are exactly right, Moon. The author must know more than what's in the story, but shouldn't put it all in.


6:32 AM  

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