I‘ve been reworking, for approximately the hundredth time, the opening scene to The Demon’s in the Details, the second book in my Touched by a Demon trilogy. (Look for it on Amazon in October.)
Now that I’ve figured out what the book’s about, I’m rewriting my first scene, yet again, to open that story.
And I’m once again struggling with this question: How much backstory belongs in that first scene?
Do we need to know that Rachel Blackmon, the mother of my protagonist, Keeffe, is dead?
Do we need to know that Keeffe was just fourteen when Rachel died? Or that Rachel died as a result of a malfunction of a da Vinci robot that nicked her iliac artery, causing her to bleed out before the hospital staff noticed, leaving Keeffe with an abiding distrust of technology?
Do we need to know that Rachel was a world-famous artist and that Keeffe has risked losing everything she values to follow in her mother’s footsteps?
Do we need to at least suspect that Keeffe’s step-mother is a she-demon from Hell, on a mission to destroy Rachel’s legacy? Continue reading
I have a new plan of attack for my series that involves blowing up my first story. There are four books in the series with the fourth book serving as a segue into the next series. The first two books are (or were) completed and the second two are partials. But now, the first book is in line for a major overhaul. There is a big age difference between the hero and the heroine and the way it starts now makes that too obvious. There are two main reasons I want to avoid highlighting that. One is that my other stories have a more traditional age ranges for the hero and hero. I usually go with late twenties to early thirties, although the next series has an older heroine. And second but related to the first, is that as my first book, readers might think that is my style and expect that in future stories only to never see it again. Continue reading
And for this week’s blog post steal, I’m borrowing from Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp. They started a series in June of 2016 about 9 Story Openings to Avoid. The first one is the traditional sittin’ and thinkin’. As opposed to the opening of Julia Quinn’s Brighter Than the Sun which starts with this: “Eleanor Lyndon was minding her own business when Charles Wycombe, Earl of Billington, fell – quite literally – into her life.” Continue reading
This scene from Moonstruck packs a punch because we know these characters’ backstories.
In last week’s post, I nattered on about Lisa Cron’s message that backstory is the decoder ring for any story we write. This week, let’s take the discussion one step further. Let’s talk about putting some of that glorious backstory you’re creating into your current WIP.
Gasp! Egads! Not the Dreaded Backstory!
Before you go running for the exits, hear me (channeling Lisa) out. As the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius as well as a long-time writing coach and teacher, Lisa has researched lots of brain science to back up her theory that not only do we need to create our characters’ backstories for our own authorial edification, but also for reader enlightenment and, ultimately, bonding with our characters. Our brains use story to explore different aspects and possibilities of the wider world so we can learn lessons from those experiences without putting ourselves in harm’s way. (Lisa puts it much more elegantly in her books, and really, you should be reading her books!) And because our brains are incredibly efficient machines, they will use the same techniques to decipher fictional stories as they do real-life events.
Let’s think about that in the context of character for a minute. Think back to meeting someone important in your life, for example, your significant other or your best friend. Continue reading