So, back story is important right? It fleshes out the characters and we get to know them better. I guess back story doesn’t happen on the first draft, but on the second, when you try to make the story more coherent.
I have a bad habit of making stories out of back stories, meaning they can be read as a whole different story, and is sometimes, unrelated to the first one. I mean, that’s how you discover the back story right? The same way you write your first draft? How else would you do it…
I guess the problem is that the back story sometimes is more, or equally, as interesting as the story itself. Does that mean the first story is flawed in some way? Because, back stories aren’t supposed to be that interesting…
A back story should be sprinkled out and shown throughout the story and perhaps my problem is that I’m over developing it.
It’s fine if the only thing I know about the main character is that he ran away from home because he came from a dysfunctional family and that his father didn’t want children to begin with. I don’t need to go deeper than that, do I?
I guess I get easily carried away ones I begin.
Confused, is the word I’d use for writing so far. I’m the very definition of ‘winging it’ and I have to say, it haven’t gone that well. I’ve abandoned several stories and now I’m putting all my efforts into learn my craft. Writing isn’t the problem anymore, sticking with it and not being confused while I do it, is. So, with the help of Stephen King I’ve organised a dream scenario in how stories should be handled. Things are never that simple, however, but it might be good to have this in mind and to fall back on when things start to become a tad bit too complex.
The idea is based on a situation. I put characters through a problem which they try to solve. The story will reveal itself has they wriggle themselves out of it.
After the first draft, I put it away and work on something else until I’ve almost forgotten about it.
Then I reread it, I take notes and then begin the second draft where I make the story more coherent and find out why I wrote it and what’s it really about?
Then I edit and make it nice for the readers, the so called ‘Open Door Phase’ where I take away anything that isn’t the story and the boring bits.
I’d probably go over it again a last time to make sure the language is right and I haven’t made a lot of mistakes.
Then it’s of to the publishers!
When I first moved into my small studio apartment I was on top of the world! I wrote everyday for hours. Having an apartment was exciting, but as of late, writing have become a chore, and I suspect my environment is part of the problem. I have a big TV and a computer and I use them everyday. Though I can rarely sit through movies and TV-shows I can play games for hours on end. Not for 6 hours straight, but maybe 2 or 3? I read a lot too, but no more than half an hour – an hour at the time. Anyway, my home have become my relax space and I feel like I’d be more productive in a shed at this point… And, you know, I can’t really get rid of all my things, can I?
Perhaps I can go outside and write? Writing in a cafe is what writers do, right? So I took the train to the city with my computer and a book, just in case. I tried to write on the train, but the announcer at every stop was incredibly distracting… Somehow, the monotone voice just takes over my mind as if it’s out to get me. It’s not natural, after all, why shouldn’t be vary of it?
Anyway, I had some brunch at a cozy place on a busy street and then I tried writing again. Surprisingly, I did really well.
I didn’t mind the chatter, it’s easier for me to get lost in the story if I have something to tune out. But maybe there was something more about writing in public? Perhaps the pretentious side of me awoke and I felt important, perhaps the was the energy of the city… regardless, what I was doing felt important.
All the work I’ve done at home is stories that nobody reads and at some point, it started to feel pointless. The apartment had become my bastion of failure, or maybe it’s just distracting? A creative Vacuum in anycase.
Perhaps change of scenery is what I needed to get the spirit into writing again.
PS: the new WordPress editor… I don’t like different!
Many of the stories I make have a long-ass backstory. At first I thought it was the main character that needed an indepth backstory, but that’s not true at all. He should have some baggage, sure, but the history shouldn’t necessarily be explored. All characters deserves a past, so we as writers know what we are writing about, so the characters words and actions speaks true. However, some plot important characters need a more indepth look.
For instance, the MC comes to an island (for one reason or another). There’s a woman there alone. We must know what she’s doing there. This is easy if there’s just one life to explore, thus just one story, but in fantasy, it often spawns generations. She’s a witch, she has been on the island for hundreds of years, and before her, there was another witch, which had also lived there for untold generations. Suddenly I have another book, or at least another short story to explore.
If one should show this backstory is another matter entirely, but how detailed should such stories be? I know I work in waves, like, every iteration becomes more and more complex and I try my hardest not to write anything that hasn’t anything to do with the plot before the plot is finished. It’s after that I start adding descriptions, scenes and dialogue. Needless to say, it becomes pretty meaty even with my best attempts, and then there is no problem making it into a proper story.
The reader shouldn’t have a problem understanding the Main story without the backstory and should only serve to bring life to it. But what if one presented the backstory afterwards, kinda like an annex? It seems to me it would be such a shame to hide the backstory I’ve worked so hard on.
Thank you for reading.
If you would like to read some of my stories you can find my latest one HERE!
A boy walked aimlessly down a hall. Voices of the adults disappeared in the endless corridors of the large house, becoming distant as he went. The old man, who lived in the house, didn’t care to lighten all of it and he probably didn’t use more than a third. The boy glanced from side to side, looking at strange paintings on the walls and flowers that had died and withered a long time ago. And the deeper he went, the darker and muskier the smells became. He’d never been to his grandfather’s house before, he barely knew he had one. His parents never talked about him and they had never told him why. But one day, the old man had a heart attack and suddenly the old man was whisked into existence… But it was all the same to him, his grandfather was very old and talked strangely. Thankfully, his grandfather allowed him to explore the house, so the old man wasn’t all bad. As he came to the end of the corridor, he followed a set of stairs, to the third floor, where there was a locked door. He peeked inside the keyhole but it was too dark to see anything. This made him all the more curious and he hurried down the stairs to the kitchen where the adults were. He stopped half way and tightened his collar and then headed inside. They were all drinking tea and all the excitement from before drained as he entered. There was his mother who had pink hair and a small frame compared to his father, who was tall but skinny. They sat straight with tired looks that brightened a bit when he entered. To his left there was his grandfather who slumped in his chair. He was clean shaven, though the hair on his head grew past his shoulders he was completely bald on top. The boy felt his eyes on him. “What is it, my boy?” The old man said. “Found something?”
“There’s a door to the attic that’s locked. May I look inside?”
“Sure, sure,” he said and dug into his pocket but hesitated. “That is, if it’s okay by your father.”
The boy looked at his father who nodded slowly. His mouth was a thin line and he rarely smiled so it was hard to tell what he was thinking. “You may,” he said.
“Thank you, father,” the boy said and bowed lightly. He received the key and headed out as quickly as he could. It was suffocating when adults were together… He loosened the collar again and headed upstairs. The door creaked open and the light from the hallway lighted the room a little. There were boxes and boxes everywhere, covered in drapes. He looked around and noticed a small source of light behind some velvet sheets and he pulled it down. Dust spurt around and tickled his nose, but there was now light and he could look clearly around the attic. It was filled with stuff and he stared at it all, excitedly. There could be anything buried in here, he thought, and began searching. Most of the things he found were regular stuff, mostly clothes, tools, and tableware. But sometimes he found something strange which he wasn’t sure what they were for, and he put them aside and dug for more. He found a pocket watch, nothing special, then he found a gold encrusted pen. Now that’s more like it! After a while, he couldn’t stand the itchiness in his nose as he stirred the dust around and he decided to take his treasure downstairs. The adults were outside when he found them, smoking. He hated smoke because it made his eyes water but he approached them and poured the contents of his bag over a table. “What have you got there, boy?” the old man said with a smile.
“Fredric!” His mother snapped.
Stunned, he found his collar was loose and he quickly tightened it. “That’s better,” she said and leaned back and drank her tea.
The old man dug into the pile and was very happy to see these old things that had once been very useful but had no use anymore, either because they had invented something better or it had gone out of fashion. The old man stopped for a moment when he got to the pen. “It’s gold, isn’t it?” said Fredric.
The old man examined it. “It’s gold alright, but I can’t remember where it came from.”
“Do you remember everything you owned, father?”
The old man looked askance at his son. “I suppose not,” he said and put the pen back in the pile.
“Can I keep it?” Fredric asked.
The old man smiled. “Sure, why not? Take the watch too, get some use out of it.”
“Thanks grandpa,” he said with a smile and sat in the corner and waited as the adults talked. They didn’t stay for long and when they got home, Fredric went to the kitchen and polished the pen until it shone. “Can I bring it to school?” He asked his mother.
“It’s not proper to boast,” she said.
“Yes, mother,” he said and pocketed it and headed upstairs. “Goodnight, mom. Goodnight dad,” he said and stood by the door to his room. Before entering, he pinched a needle that was stuck at the door frame and a thud came from inside. A rope hung in front of him with a large sandbag attached to it on the floor. He propped the trap back into place and closed the door. He skipped over several wires that stretched across the floor, and before he undressed and went to bed, he tapped the wooden frame of the bed three times and then crawled under the blanket, sleeping soundly soon after.
He went to school the next day. His clothes oppressed him, it was hard to move and the collar pressed up against his chin. His clothes were very expensive too, black and sophisticated, not at all like a schoolboy of 12, but that of a grown gentleman. It was how his parents wanted him to be, to be as far above the rest as he could be. His father even took away all his children’s stories when he turned 10, even his favourite one about the gnomes and humans who lived side by side. He remembered it clearly: the gnomes made magical things to aid the humans, but over time, the gnomes grew weary of being treated like slaves and they took back their magic from the humans and disappeared, bringing in an age of darkness until humanity brought themselves back with their own kind of magic of cogs and machinery. There are other tales about the gnomes but his father was insistent that he only read this particular one, or other’s like it. Fredric didn’t rightly know why.
On his way to school, he took the long way around, avoiding the houses of his classmates. He’d memorised them all and he knew which route they took. He walked between small dilapidated houses, and the tiny roads between them, where the grass had grown through the pavement, roads nobody cared about. For some reason he liked those roads, they seemed almost like lost ruins, but most of all, he liked it because he was alone. He’d tried to make friends once. His father never approved any of them and only belittled them because they were not good enough for his son. People stopped coming then, and after a while, Fredric stopped trying. Finally, he came out on the big road. He walked behind the school at the football yard which was empty so early in the day. There was only one or two who saw him (…)
© Christopher Stamfors
Continue reading the story over Here!
The night was quiet; the moon was full. It was a sleepy town with some old buildings dotted around, some as old as several hundred years! Little had happened here, somehow avoiding the disasters of time and progress. But that didn’t mean it held no secrets… Everyone was asleep, but there was one figure lurking on the rooftop. He moved slowly, darkly, as dark as one could manage despite the moon casting his silhouette on the dark blue sky. He could be quite easily seen if one were to look, but there was nobody to see him for all was a sleep. The roof plates wobbled dangerously as he moved forward, making his way to the next window and he huddled up to it. He brought out a crowbar and buried the iron into the dry old wood. It cracked and he opened the window stealthily. The weight of him made the floor creak, each step somehow becoming louder. He took a breath, brought out a flashlight and an old book and read it softly to himself. “Though it will be some time until I return to this place, I decided to hide the map in the cupboard on the second floor, the one in the main hall. The first layer of the drawer was easy to break and nobody would guess that something was hidden inside. I hope that I will return to it soon. I do not trust the captain and his men to honour their promise.”
He smirked and looked around. There was a cupboard down the hall and he opened the drawer. The old wood squealed when he pulled it open and he hesitated, seeming much louder in the night where sound carried far. He broke the first layer, revealing a secret compartment. He dug his hand into the dark and felt the coarseness of paper. A wide grin grew upon his face.
You should be afraid of the unknown because you don’t know if it’s dangerous or not, at least in a primal sense. But for others who wants to go further they must take risks and challenge the unknown
Nobody reads my tweets so I might just as well post my sayings here when they come to me, stupid or not.
When writing, I’d much rather ignore a problem, hoping that it would solve itself, rather than tackle it head on. That is not to say I won’t do it eventually, but I’ve found it better to do it sooner rather than later…
For instance, if I write a story, I must always ask the question why; why did this happen? How does this affect the rest of the story?
When I try to answer these questions I discover new things about the plot, interesting and cool things that I would otherwise glance over. It’s not hard to spot these problems either, because you would FEEL that something is wrong, that something is missing. That’s why I believe stories exist independent from us and that we are just here to find them, I mean, otherwise you wouldn’t feel bad about skipping.
That’s why I think it’s important to be very selective when you pick what you want to work with, because when the story is vague in your head, there will be A LOT of work to find the missing pieces. But then again, therein lies the charm, the less you know the more there is to discover and I love to discover new shit.
Maybe if I sharpen my tools a bit it won’t be so difficult.
There’s a war going on in my mind, in everyone’s minds, really. It’s a war between yourself and the outside world. If we entertain the idea that you have never been exposed to the world (meaning others opinions) how different would your own thoughts be? That is not to say hearing about others thoughts are bad, I think it’s more about society at large that decides what is good or bad. Again, that’s not always a bad thing, and really, it’s an unavoidable battle unless you are literally Buddha and have reach a state of utter detachment from everything wordly… What was my point again?
I guess the war in our minds, at least for creatives, is what to create: should the story be (1) what I want it to be or (2) what it should be, or already is? Because I believe stories exist independent from us and that they are there to be found rather than created. Sometimes a story isn’t what others would like them to be, and you have to change it, but that demands so much of you that sometimes you don’t want to. You have found this story (wherever stories are found) and you cannot toss it away, and at the same time, it cannot be made into something that it’s not, at least I can’t. Perhaps I can make still, even if it’s bad? Just to get it out of my mind…
“Honey, are you sure this is the right way?”
“Yes, yes, it should be right around the corner.”
“But, look, the road has stopped. You are driving on dirt!”
“We are supposed to… It’s a short cut, alright!”
She looked over at her boyfriend who kept his eyes on the road while glancing on a map that rested over the steering-wheel. The car swayed back and forth like a ship on the uneven ground; and the further they went, the more the forest enclosed them and the road disappeared in the undergrowth.
“Okay, maybe we are lost, but I can’t turn around now. There must be a roundabout somewhere…”
She did not argue at that. The branches scraped against the car as they drove on. The man winced every time the branches dug into the coloring, creating white streaks of blemishes on his fancy red car. But there was nothing he could do and backing up would almost be worse at this point. Finally, the trees opened up and a big dirt field, half covered in patches of grass, spread out before them. There were half collapsed fences that enclosed it and it looked to them as an old abandoned parking lot. They stopped on the cleanest patch of dirt and the man threw himself out of the car. He whimpered pathetically as he inspected the damage.
“Fucking hell,” he said. “We just had to go out and see nature, didn’t we?
“Oh please, don’t pin this on me. It’s not my fault you can’t read the map.”
The man grumbled, knowing by experience arguing never lead him anywhere. Even if he won, she would find a way to sour his victory, not that the damage on the car would go away anyhow, or payed for… “Where are we, anyway?”
She looked around and saw benches dotted around, all small and half crumbled. There was some sort of platform in the distance, but it was hard to see what it was exactly. As she looked, she saw somebody wave in the distance. “There’s somebody over there,” she said. “A couple?”
“I think there is. They seem to wave us over… should we?”
The woman shrugged and gathered their picnic basket and headed to them. They were very old. They had their own picnic spread out on the table they sat on and they smiled at the young couple as they approached.
“Well, isn’t that nice,” the old woman said. “I thought this place had all but been forgotten.”
“Well, we found it by accident… I’m James, btw. This is Lillie.”
They shook hands. “I’m Kay and this is my husband Gore,” the old woman said. Gore didn’t move. His body seemed stiff as a board but his eyes were clear and aware. He made a dry exhale as if in greeting.
“Would you like to sit down?” The old lady said.
The young couple looked at each other and decided to share their meal with them.
“There must have been a lot of people here at one point,” Lillie said.
“Oh yes. At one point there were hundreds. Last year we were three couples but now it’s only us that ever comes.”
James and Lillie looked at each other.
“Oh, nothing special happened here,” she said airily. “People used to come and dance, that’s all. We actually met here, Gore and I. Remember how you danced to impress me, dear?”
A smile crept up on the old man and exhaled like a broken vacuum cleaner on it’s last breath.
“Yes, you bumped half the people off stage until you had it all for yourself, hee hee. You were quite bad at it too, I’d never laughed so hard in my life”
Again, the old man exhaled with a smile.
“Yes, I knew that I loved you too then… But oh, listen to us ramble on. What about you? Are u married?
“N… No, we didn’t see the point,” Lillie said.
The old woman smiled sadly. “That’s a shame… It’s a beautiful thing, making the promise. It might be unfashionable these days, but I think there’s nothing more important in life than find a life partner.”
They were silent for a while soaking in the sun. “Well, we should be going,” the old woman said. “I’m glad we met you. I was very sad before you came, you know. That this place would be forgotten. But now I can be rest assured that at least two people in this world will know of this place, for a little bit.”
They watched the old couple go. When they were gone, James turned to his girlfriend. “You don’t want to get married, do you?”
“Hmph, not with you,” she said and munched on a sandwich and let the quiet sink in, the leaves rustling in the wind above, never gracing them. “We should come back here next year,” she said.
“Yes… Yes we should,” James agreed.
© Christopher Stamfors