Backstory and Plot Development

The past has a past. Writers call it backstory – the stuff that we know about our characters and plot but maybe don’t even hint at in the novel itself. Sometimes the fact that our protagonist likes peanut butter sandwiches because it reminds him of the best summer of his life is a plot point, sometimes it only informs the way we write him. But what happens when you write yourself into a corner and need a new piece of information to get out? I say just invent the backstory and fill in the holes later.

Seriously, even if you’ve published 17 novels in the series and you are only now realizing that peanut butter sandwiches will save your plot, what’s the harm? People are always learning new stuff about themselves and their families. I’m going through some rediscovered family letters from 1917 that put a completely different spin on one of my ancestors. They also gave me the idea of using a piece of information that wasn’t in earlier novels if I need it now. Revealing bits of information along the way is what readers expect from us, after all. They don’t need to know that we only just thought of it.

Luck and wisdom!

Author: Lani Longshore

Quilter, writer, chocoholic, black belt (karate), killer of houseplants, reader of maps (and I still get lost)

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