backstory tagged posts

Critique Technique Table of Contents

Here’s a Table of Contents of all of the Critique Technique posts to make it easier to go directly to the post you want to read.

Introductory Posts

Part 1 of Many

Part 4: Series Preview

Reader Response

Part 2: How Do You Feel?

Part 3: Authorial Intentions and Tracking Your Own Responses

Beginnings and Endings

Part 5: Weak or Missing Hook

Part 6: The Wrong Beginning

Part 7: Scene and Chapter Endings

Part 7b: More on Scene and Chapter Endings

Part 8: Story Endings

Characterization

Part 9: Characters and Conflict

Part 10: Poor Characterization

Part 11: Lack of Character Development

Part 12: Showing and Telling in Character Development

Part 13: Timing the Reveal

Part 14: Out-of-Character Behavior

Part 15: Unclear Character Goals

Part 16: Unclear or Insufficient Obstacles

Part 17: Dialect...

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Critique Technique, Part 25—Misused Backstory or Flashback

A twisted, two-ended red pencil

Image courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Backstory and its kissing cousin flashback are techniques authors use to provide amplifying information about a situation, a location, or a character. Flashbacks and backstory differ from “front story” in that the author jumps away from the story’s current timeline to relate them, then jumps back (but not backwards) to the story’s present to continue.

Jumping forward in time—a “flash forward”—can have the same purpose, and everything below also applies.

Flashing back is in fact a technique for relating backstory. A brief interruption of the story’s flow, it can be:

  • Initiated by the narrator to provide information not available to the characters;
  • A character’s memory; or
  • A conversation between two or more characters (“You remember w...
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Great Stuff for Writers, June 10, 2013

From characters to research to finding an editor to doing your own editing (both necessary!), to more besides, we’re covering quite a waterfront today. Let’s dive right in.

CRAFT

An editorial style sheet isn’t something most writers pay attention to, do, or even know what it is. Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) makes a case for creating one in How to Create a Style Sheet for Your Manuscript. The bottom line for this thing is consistency—in spelling, grammar, punctuation, relationships, physical characteristics, basically anything that you could not keep straight over the course of writing a novel. And which, count on it, some reader will catch.

Donald Maass (@DonMaass) draws an analogy between your characters’ journey through a story and his own family’s hikes in and map study o...

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Hacking and Cutting

A couple of events conspired recently to turn into an important revelation.

The first event was getting the feedback from my beta readers. One told me a certain chapter stopped her cold and it took her a couple weeks to pick the manuscript up again. Uh-oh! Another told me she struggled through the same chapter. Double uh-oh!

Then, about two weeks ago, as I was reading through a chapter of a novel by a member of my writers’ group, I experienced a similar problem. Half-way through I just had to put it down. Uh-oh again! As I thought about why that was, I realized that while his chapter was well written in many ways, its major flaw was how much backstory it contained.

That’s when the 25 Watt light bulb over my head began to flicker.

My problematic chapter had a similar problem: too much b...

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