Focused Backstory by Carol Alwood: Book Review
About the Book
Book: Focused Backstory
Author: Carol Alwood
Genre: Non-fiction, writing resource
Release Date: June 26, 2019
Learn how to write characters readers will love.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.
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Carol Alwood hit my exact problem head on. Info dump. Especially in the first chapter. I don’t know why I feel compelled to write info dumps, but I am. There’s nothing wrong with writing them, I suppose. You do gather a lot of information about the characters. Just don’t try and include them in the actual story.
In Focused Backstory you’ll learn how to overcome this drive to tell your readers every little tidbit of backstory in one overly long dramatic gushfest. With chapter-by-chapter worksheets and helpful tips, you’ll learn more about your characters than you could ever include in the story all while understanding why you don’t need to tell your readers everything.
Focused Backstory is now a permanent resource in my fiction-writing library. I can’t wait to start my next story and put the worksheets to use. Each chapter breaks down a different aspect of backstory, shows you where it belongs in the storyline, and helps you understand how to structure the book around the backstory, adding in bits throughout the timeline.
I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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.
More from Carol
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.