Hey Baby, What’s Your Back Story and why we are running around so much

Hey baby, what’s your back story? 

It should be a pick-up line at a bar, yet it somehow is not a pick-up line at any bar that I know of except maybe in a New Yorker cartoon or a bar in a town where there’s one of those MFA programs in writing literature for literary people doing literary things. 

Anyway, it’s a term writers throw around all the time and it is basically just how we imagine our characters’ lives went before they are in the actual story that we’re writing. 

I know! How can you imagine that your character had a life before your story? It’s like imagining your spouse had a life before you that wasn’t totally centered around you. Us narcissists have a hard time with that. 

Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important…

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

According to a post on Now Novel there are three uses of back story.

  1. Developing the understanding of the characters. Like if your dad died of a heart attack in front of you and you couldn’t save him, then your character might have a savior complex. It helps the reader understand your characters’ motivations. 
  2. It can heighten the stakes and the suspense. You were once addicted to dating cops. Cops were always bad for you. Will you date this one? NO! YOU MUST NOT. 
  3. It makes it real damn it. By the time, you make it into a book, you’re not going to be a blank slate, born out of Zeus’ head or a clamshell fully formed on page 1. We all have prologues. 

Standout asks how much back story does a story need and answers its own question pretty simply:

If judged solely on complexity, the answer to ‘how much back story should I include?’ would be ‘enough to pay for the reader’s efforts,’ however you also need to consider immersion.

Standout

Ah. Okay?

Here is our advice: 

  • Don’t be fake. Don’t be pretend. We all know people who show up at a party, engage in small talk about absolutely nothing other than the weather, the traffic, where they work. There is no underlayment. It’s like they are a rug thrown on the floor, but if you touch that rug it will just slip away because there’s nothing holding it there. 
  • Do not let your characters be rugs. 
  • Ground those suckers with nails and staples if you have to. ModPodge them to the floor, give them a life before you. 
  • Don’t tell us everything about them. We do not know that they prefer Aquafina to Poland Spring water or that they had an ingrown toenail when they were twenty-four any more than you want to know about the guy at the party’s hemorrhoid treatment unless it’s really good. Be sparing. 

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.

Stephen King

Writing Tip of the Pod 

Find the balance in your backstory and your life. 

Dog Tip for Life

Run through adversity. Don’t give up. 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 



Hey Baby, What’s Your Back Story and why we are running around so much

 
 
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Bears Like Me

One night a long while ago, due to a top secret mission (that involved NOTHING illegal or alcohol, I swear) I came home at 4:30 a.m.  When I stepped out of the MINI, I was sort of weirded out.

There was a noise in the woods.

Hm, I thought, pixies?

No, I thought. Pixies are just in my NEED books. They aren’t actually in the woods.

This thought did not help since the things in my books tend to happen to me in real life after I write them. So being a calm and normal writer, I freaked out and ran inside. Tala, the Super Dog (who is no longer with us) was waiting at the door.

She leapt on me, kissed me, and then Tala the Super Dog reminded me that she is Tala the Super Pee Dog. She made her needs very clear by running around in circles by the door and giving me puppy dog sad eyes.

Tala: Seriously? It’s a long night when you can’t use a toilet.

So, I snapped on the leash and brought her outside. She immediately went into SOMETHING IS WRONG mode and started smelling in circles and growling and sniffing, hauling me up the driveway with her leash fully extended and totally ignoring all my please to sit, stay, slow down, and just-stop-for-the-love-of-God-just stop.

She was a Pyr. They don’t listen when they think they know better than you do. This is so true that there are memes and gifs about it.

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So, I held on and prayed.

And that is when there was a noise in the big long grass by the side of the driveway.
And that is when I stopped walking.
And that is when I started murmuring, Please don’t let evil pixies be real.
And that is when Tala freaked out completely.

It was not ‘freaking out,’ human. It was DOGGY DEFENSE MODE! Geesh.

She lunged and growled and then got very still. I wrapped the leash around my wrists and held on with both hands. All of Tala’s doggy hairs stood up straight. So, um, did mine.

And that is when the bear came out of the underbrush.
And that is when the bear got all bristly.

And that is when Tala got macho and all, YOU ARE SO NOT COMING ANY CLOSER BEAR.
And that is when the bear got all, OH YEAH . YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE ME?

And that is when I thought, ALL THE OTHER BLACK BEARS I’VE EVER MET WERE SHY.
And that is when I thought, OH MAN!!! OH MAN!!! IT’S GOING TO KILL MY SUPER DOG.

And that is when I got super human strength and somehow yanked Tala back and ran in reverse into the garage, dragging her the whole way.

Tala: Let me just say, I let it her drag me back. Carrie is a pacifist. She couldn’t have handled the gore. Plus, I didn’t want to humiliate that bear. Bears have such egos.

Anyway, I have seen a lot of bears in the woods and I have never been scared of them, not ever, but that morning? Totally different story.

And it kind of reminds me of my life right now. All these normal things like writing and revising and blogging and living, walking dogs, hugging friends, things I love, have all become a tiny bit scary. And even when other people try to protect me, it’s really up to me to hang on and do the right thing and haul butt into the garage and regroup.

Is your life ever like that?

If it is, I’m sending you a Tala. If it is, I want you to have hope. If it is, I want you to know that you are important and beautiful and you matter.

But even though they are a tiny bit scary, I still love these things, even people. Yes, even the scary people. I hope you can find love and hope, too.

Here’s the only thing I know: It’s worth it to go up the driveway and face the bears.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

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LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

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How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!