Has an industry professional told you not to dump character history at the beginning of your story? If so, you aren’t alone. But what’s the solution to this common advice? Most writers take the time to design interesting characters with troubled pasts. They long for readers to care about the characters’ lives. However, the sad truth is on page one, readers don’t care—yet. That’s why industry gurus tell writers to stop overusing character history, also called backstory, at the beginning of stories. Have you ever wondered… How to use backstory correctly? What are the ways other writers successfully incorporate backstory into their work? Do tools exist to help writers better plan stories so the backstory isn’t such a problem? In Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys, you’ll find answers to these questions and more. You’ll learn how to avoid the dreaded info-dump and instead, harness curiosity so readers keep turning pages. This resource breaks down focused backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story no matter what genre or length. Worksheets, tables, questionnaires, and templates will help you plan an engaging story with deep characters. Examples from popular stories will help you understand this method.
You’ll learn how to
• design a character around a troubled past.
• create additional characters around the main character.
• weave interesting sub-plots within a characters’ journey toward healing.
• design proper obstacles which interfere with characters’ goals.
• guide readers’ emotions so they have a satisfying reading experience.
No matter what kind of writer you are, if you take the time to analyze the use of backstory, it will enhance your style. Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys is the missing gadget in your writing tool kit.
I have read so many "help" books. Many are far less than helpful. This book is full of thoughts, ideas, worksheets, things to make authors think about what they are doing with characters and their stories. I was shocked at the front, I had never heard of putting the backstory at the front of the book. That was unheard of to me and yet, very interesting as I learned from this author's prior mistakes.
The first chapter alone could have been a book, but it just keeps going. It's a very resourceful guide for writing, one that I will need to read more than once to absorb it all. I do love the stick figure drawings, and the correlations to movies or other books, even if some are the ones I don't care for.
About the Author
Carol Alwood has an unending passion for fiction, and she can’t think of a better way to spend her life than writing books for young adults and teaching about techniques she has learned along the way. With a Master of Education, experience as a content editor, and over a decade of establishing and working with critique groups, she is an excellent resource. An award-winning author, Carol finds joy in helping writers find the right tools to plan, draft and revise their novels so they can achieve excellence in storytelling.
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Focused Backstory resulted from a personal quest to please industry critics who suggested I keep character history out of the first pages of my novels. My initial questions to this advice were: What? Why? I searched for resources to figure out how to write a more powerful beginning without relying on the past but found little help. On a mission to find answers, I studied popular books, television and movies to abstract what made stories work and — boom! I found it! We can break down backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story without compromising artistry. This book provides definitions, examples, worksheets, templates, and comics to help writers study the art of using powerful character histories to keep readers turning pages. I’m so excited to offer this resource and hope it will empower your writing as it has mine.
I'm so glad to read book three of this series. Like the prior books in this series, it keeps up with hard topics. There is a witch, who is also a lesbian. A secret boyfriend, a surprise baby on the way, guilt, shame, secrets, pride, lies, and much more. That's all in conflict with Jesus, forgiveness, following God's path, who to trust and not to trust. This whole series is emotional, soaked in spiritual warfare, demons, and some trigger issues. Such as the abuse that is still front and center, incest, and depression to name a few. Even with that, this book is so strong! This series is so good for mature teens and adults. I wouldn't have a young teen read it without parents. A few loose ends are left, but I'm not sure there's a book four. 5 Stars About the Author
Beckie Lindsey is an award-winning author, poet, blogger, and the editor of Southern California Christian Voice, a division of One Christian Voice, a national news syndicating agency. She is a major coffeeholic and enjoys a good book with a cat on her lap. She also loves to hike and hang out with family and friends. Beckie and her husband, Scott have three adult children, two adorable cats and live in California.
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Why I write YA and the BFA series
I believe a teenager still exists inside each of us.
We hear a familiar tune from our “glory days” and are instantly tapping our toes. Mentally, we’re back in high school —poofy bangs, scrunchie, neon off-the-shoulder sweatshirt — and all. Oh, wait. That’s me back in the ‘80s!
Ah, yes. There is something wonderfully awful about those coming-of-age years.
From the first kiss to the first breakup, there are memories we cherish and some we don’t care to ever revisit. Being a teen can be exciting, confusing, painful, joyous, or even all of those things at once!
No matter how different your teenage experience was from mine, one thing is true for us all: these years have an enormous impact on who we become as adults. We can all sympathize with the plight of puberty and the longing for independence and acceptance. Yeah, there’s still a teenager in all of us!
These are the reasons I write YA.
My hope is to use the power of storytelling to move past barriers and open hearts to accept how much God loves and desires a personal relationship with us.
At every age, we all need the grace and love of Jesus.
In the Beauties from Ashes (BFA) series, I write about relatable characters with difficult issues and traumatic pasts to enlighten readers about the unseen spiritual battle referred to in Scripture. Each character has a secret that has left them vulnerable to the battle in an invisible realm where demonic creatures fight to keep them chained to their pasts and angels of light work to free them.
The characters and their issues are complex, just like real life. In fact, some of the topics are often considered too taboo to talk about openly. But what is left in the dark, festers and grows. It is only in the light that we can be free. In the BFA series, readers experience the character’s quest for truth, love, grace, and freedom while hopefully finding the same for themselves.
She’s forgotten everything … including who it is that wants her dead.
Mia’s trapped in a nightmare inside her own mind. After a brain injury leaves her unable to form new memories, all she knows is that entire months of her life are missing. Those closest to her are dead, and someone’s on their way back soon to finish the job.
Heart-gripping, page-turning Christian suspense from the author whose books are called “intense,” “life-changing,” and “impossible to put down,” Forget Me Now is a psychological thriller with enough twists to keep you reading … and guessing … late into the midnight hours.
Download your copy today for a fast-paced adrenaline rush you’ll never forget.
My Review: This book. Yes, she has amnesia and yes, she is in danger. Yep, I know that's a well-done plot, but oh my goodness I liked this one. I felt so much for this young woman. Mia is stuck in the proverbial looping day, but it's not a fun day. It's a major mess. God still never leaves us, but Mia is having to learn to trust Him. Who is trying to kill her, how will she ever remember or stay safe? I definitely didn't see the ending coming. I can't wait to see what Terry writes next, but this book will stick with me for a while. 5 Stars
About the Author
Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.
More from Alana
I love writing Christian fiction suspense. I have multiple series for sale and one of the things my readers have grown to appreciate is how many of their favorite characters show up in more than one series. Another aspect of my books that readers’ enjoy is the mystery, intrigue, and twists and turns involved as they reach the final page.
My new novel, Forget Me Now, has all the favorite elements mentioned above, but includes a new psychological thriller element that I hope readers will love as much as I loved bringing it to them. This novel asks the question, “What would you do if you woke up to find three months of your memory entirely gone? Who would you turn to for answers during that confusing time … and how would you react if you began to question the ones you turned to for the truth?
Read all about how Mia handles a predicament just like this (except even more dangerous) in Forget Me Now, complete with all the thrills and gripping suspense you’ve grown to love from Alana Terry novels as well as the reminder that God is always in control.
If you want, let me know your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to dive into this thriller that is truly unforgettable by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December covers quaint Heart’s Bend, Tennessee with a blanket of white and the glitter of Christmas lights.
For JoJo Castle there’s no place like home. It’s her safe place. Her one-time love of adventure ended when life in the big city shattered her hopes and dreams. Now that she’s returned to Hearts Bend, she never wants to leave again.
Buck Mathews, the biggest country singing sensation in decades, has the world on a string – his guitar strings, to be exact. However, when news of his mother’s illness sends him back to Hearts Bend for the holiday season, he remembers how good it can be to live among family and friends.
Working with her cousin Haley in The Wedding Shop, JoJo has no aspirations of love. Leaving home, surrendering her heart again, is just too risky.
When she runs into her friend and high school crush Buck Mathews, she discovers Love might have other plans for her[BV1] .
Buck’s career is on the verge of an momentous leap. But seeing JoJo awakens feelings he’d buried long ago. Falling in love is easy, but winning her heart will take more than one of his melodic tunes and clever lyrics.
JoJo and Buck want opposite things for their lives, leaving no room for compromise. Can love, especially the kind that touches hearts at Christmastime, overcome her fears andhis quest for greatness?
When a very special gown – the wedding dress – begins to make its presence known, JoJo and Buck’s hearts bend in a way neither ever thought possible.
Click here to get your copy. My Review: I think of this story as more of a fairytale. It's what I call a "fluffy" read and sometimes I really like a fluffy read. This book tracks a wedding dress through its multiple owners. That's four romances and a long time span. I was originally drawn to it, because Charlotte had a shop in Birmingham, Alabama, and that's a place I know. After a while, I got very frustrated because people kept being so irrational. I would like them to make choices that move their lives forward, not into reverse. Despite God being mentioned frequently, it felt a bit preachy and that would be okay, but I was disappointed at the frequent return to abusive situations. I wound up really wishing for them to have some personal growth. This is not my favorite book by this author, but there are others of hers that I absolutely love. 3 Stars About the Author
Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.
Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.
Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.
A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.
At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.
More From Rachel
Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!
I’m thrilled to share The Wedding Dress Christmas with you. I’ve heard from so many how much The Wedding Dress has touched them, and as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward the wedding dress and Christmas. What’s more romantic than a Christmas wedding?
This novella is set in Hearts Bend, Tennessee, the fictional town ofThe Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop. Even if you’ve never read one of books inThe Wedding Collection, you’ll enjoy this story, the mystery of the dress, and the women whose lives it changed.
I love weddings. They remind us of the purity and the hope of love, the power of commitment. Something powerful is released when two people pledge to spend their lives together, loving and serving one another in both good and bad times. Every wedding I attend reminds me of the vows I made to my husband and I sign up all over again.
Stories are a powerful reflection of life. Yes, fictional stories are often told with wild hyperbole, but that’s what makes them fun to read.
I also love wedding stories because they remind us of God’s love for us, and that one day there will be the grandest wedding of them all. Isn’t it wonderful that God planned a wedding before He created the earth?
In The Wedding Dress Christmas, JoJo and Buck have their issues, but love proves strong enough to conquer them all.
Thanks for going on this little tour with me and The Wedding Dress Christmas.