Writing Quote

"Don't write merely to be understood.
Write so that you can't possibly be misunderstood."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My kind of history

School's out and I'm back! For a few weeks anyway. Day one of summer break and I felt so lost without homework to do, I set some for myself. I've got a book of writing exercises that I've been meaning to look through for a while. So my assignment was to read a chapter and do the exercise as it relates to Armathad.

The exercise was all about finding the history of your story. I hate history. HATE. IT. But then my History tests might have been a lot more fun if I could just make stuff up. You know like, "and George Washington, he had wooden teeth..." wait. I think he did have wooden teeth. Anyway, history is fun when you get to make things up. The idea behind this exercise is to find out why your story ends up the way it does. Particularly if you start in medias res, you're going to need that back story to make sense of things.

I had already done this history making with a lot of Armathad's plot. But when I went back and thought about it, I realized I had not done it on most of my main characters. I know who they are and who they become later on, but I don't know who they were before page one. I don't know why Dop became Athelell's ward, who his parents are or what his relationship with them is like. What is it that gives him that youthful, spunky, trying-too-hard-to-please personality despite the underlying hurt that no matter what he does, he doesn't seem to be able to win his peers' respect?

My villain, I did do a back story on. I had an entire chapter in which he sits and broods on his past. Yeah. That got cut. It was mostly for my own information anyway. But I also decided he doesn't get a voice in this book. In thinking about his history, I've decided he gets his own book; a prequel. This may end up being this year's nanowrimo project. We'll, see.

As interesting as this history-making is, I just need to be careful not to let it take over. I still have a book to write, after all.

How do you find the balance between the helpful history invention and moving forward with the plot? Ready, set, go.