Aug 31, 2011

my characters have *gasp* backstories?!

So I've come to the point with Southern Gothic novel where I go over my lovely critique partners' notes. This involves a lot of squinting, frowning, nodding and imaginary flashing lightbulbs over my head when they make a particularly good point that I'd never even considered (which they always, always do). It is a stage that I'm growing to love more now that I've been through the revision process with LUMINANCE HOUR. I now know how much revision can polish and improve a story. Even though the process itself kind of (okay, does) suck.
Yesterday I was going over my critique partner Kate's notes and having a singular, vast revelation over and over again.

My characters had lives before the events of the novel started. (Very much like learning that your parents existed before you were born. What? They went to high school too?)

This is a fact that, while I'm rough drafting, I tend to brush aside. I get very wrapped up in the immediate events of my plot. With the pace and the subplots and who hates who and why oh why did she go into the creepy swamp and do that?
But backstories are just as necessary to the health of a novel as present plot is, even though they rarely make appearances and are sometimes hardly mentioned at all. Backstories are what shape a character. Why they do the things they do. Everyone needs backstories. The plucky heroine, the unyielding father, the ruthless villain. The minor characters you don't even remember inserting into the text.
So yeah, that's what I'm doing this week. Sorting out my character's backstories. It's kind of fun. In a weird way. I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. I aim to please (well... I aim to help... my comments probably don't always please :). I'm doing something very similar this week with my characters; can't wait to see the way your plot thickens!