17 February 2012

Backstory into Front Story

The front story is determined by the characters’ goals and beliefs and traits.

Behind the front story of each character is a unique world made up of all her past experiences. Every well-rounded and fully-developed character has a backstory.

Some characters’ backstories are rather banal, like everyone else’s background, past, history. However, the character herself always must be unique or possess a bit of mystery of individuality.

A character’s backstory is everything that happens to a character before the actual story begins. Often something happens to a character before the actual story begins that causes a backstory wound. A backstory wound happens at any age and at any point the protagonist is diminished.

Who She Was Before
A character’s backstory determines how she starts out before becoming who she is today in current story time. The character’s backstory shapes her beliefs and expectations of life and her life direction.

In purely action-driven stories, the protagonist is often depicted as singular as if birthed in isolation for the higher good. In character-driven stories and virtually all women’s fiction, the protagonist is emotionally affected by her past and the people who raised her.

Most of a story takes place in action as the protagonist engages with the outside world. The deeper impact of this action and what happens is registered inside the protagonist, either in conflict with or in peace with the past.

Stories have the potential to change the reader. That potential is gained when the emotional truth that comes only through the character is shared. This is in contrast to high-action violence without showing the emotional affects of violence on the true human experience.

For an audience to connect to a story on an emotional level, they have to connect to the character. Rather than a cardboard action figure enacting the action, more movies today offer three-dimensional characters with flaws and all, and backstories.

To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms in the above blog post:
1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Now also as a Kindle edition)

2) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

3 Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. A directory the book examples and plot elements discussed is to the left of this post.

For additional tips and information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook
Plot Whisperer on Twitter