Secondary Character Backstory

Every character has some sort of backstory that helps to make them who they are.

Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb always has an emotionally scarring backstory to tell.

This past weekend I realized that my mentor character in Sapphyre (we’ll call her C) had some history with my heroine’s mother (J). I could just feel the disdain she had for her and I couldn’t help but wonder why.

That led me on a mental journey to figure out why C hates J.

Even if you won’t feature a character’s backstory within your novel itself, it’s important to know it.

Through my little journey into the backstories I realized that there’s a lot more behind the story than I realized.

The reason why C hates J doesn’t have anything to do with a big backstory that I discovered but it started out because I wasn’t sure how the thing I wanted to work could.

Looking into backstories can lead you on a great adventure, so even if there’s something that won’t feature in your actual novel, it can add a layer of depth that you wouldn’t have otherwise.


In what ways has understanding backstory helped you?

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Character Motivation

So the other night I had a scene come to me for Topaas.

It’s been a while since I’ve had that story in mind so it got me on the pathway of thinking about my villain’s motivation.

In the scene that came to me, his accomplice/lover is the one who is trying to push him to do a heinous act of violence to achieve their goal but his motivation isn’t as strong as hers is.

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Now I need to figure out what his full motivation is. What would keep him going if he didn’t have his accomplice? What could lead him to do whatever it took to achieve his goals?

That’s my project for the week.

I’ll mull over it while I go to Salt Lake Comic Con tomorrow and Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

Making Time

I know in the past I’ve posted about how you need to make time to write and I’ve never felt it so keenly as I have in the past several days.

My aunt and uncle went out of town on Thursday morning and I’ve been taking care of their four girls, ages 10, 7, 4, and 2. I get the older ones up in the morning and off to school, then take the younger ones to a relative’s house so I could go to work, then pick them up when I’m done. It’s been super busy.

With such limited time, I have needed to figure out when to get some writing in.

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I’ve been super tired but as soon as I’ve had all four kids in bed, I’ve pulled out my writing journal and written until I mentally couldn’t anymore.

There are times in your life when sitting down to write for a couple hours isn’t feasible but if you make time within a small reprieve, even if it means giving up a little sleep, you should do it.

If it really matters, you’ll find a way to fit it in.

It doesn’t have to be 1,000 words each day.

It could be 2 sentences.

You can do it if you make time.

What are ways that you fit your writing into your busy schedule?

Dedication

Well it looks like I’ve reached another milestone on Commit. 200 days in a row!!!

When you want something, go for it. Set your SMART goals and move forward. I set the goal back on March 1st to work on a manuscript every day and I have since then.

A few years ago, I found a bracelet with this quote on it:

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Accomplishing goals requires you to put in the work.

Through making the choices that will lead you to your goals, you can achieve your dreams.

What goals can you make to achieve your publishing dreams?

Writing Goals

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that it’s difficult to move forward when you don’t have a goal.

I set a goal, months back, that I would finish this second draft of Topaas by the end of the year. Though I was well on my way to doing just that, I realized that I was missing something crucial to the plot and that pulled me back to square one.

Since then I’ve set smaller goals and changes in plot don’t have to cause issues for me.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal setting concept presented on blackboard with colorful crumpled sticky notes and white chalk handwriting
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal setting concept presented on blackboard with colorful crumpled sticky notes and white chalk handwriting

To have a goal, it needs to be SMART, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Time-bound.

The problem with my goal of finishing the draft by the end of the year was that while it was Specific, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, it was not Measurable.

How could I measure if I was getting close?

I couldn’t.

My most recent goal is to complete a scene a week. It follows all of the requirements for a SMART goal and the timing for each completion is very clear.

What are some of your SMART goals?

Secondary Characters

I had an interesting thought last night as I wondered about what the relationship was between the best friend of my MC and the MC’s siblings. Even though I might not have scenes between these characters in the actual novel, writing the scenes down so I’m aware of it can add depth to the story.

A blogger I follow, Rii the Wordsmith, did a post last week where she mentioned that even when your villain is off-screen, you as the writer should know what he/she is doing so the villain is more than just a cardboard cutout.

[NOTE: If you need help with writing villains, Rii’s blog is an awesome one to follow]

Knowing about your characters that aren’t the protagonist will help your novel to stick out because readers will care about more characters. They’ll feel more real.

Would readers care about the deaths in the Harry Potter series if those secondary characters didn’t feel real?

No.

Even though the characters who died meant something to Harry, we as readers would not have cared if they didn’t have depth–If we didn’t know them.

Knowing about all of your characters brings power.

How do you get to know your secondary characters better?

The Hero’s Journey

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to talk a little bit today about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. For those of us who read a lot and even those who watch a lot of films will recognize it as well (i.e. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc).

The hero’s journey is used a lot in literature and film because it works well.

I realized on Saturday that even though Sapphyre is a story set in a world parallel to Regency England and involves balls, parties, and other aspects that you’d expect from a Jane Austen novel, my two main characters each have their own hero’s journey within the story.

It’s not always exactly like pictured on the diagram but different elements of the Hero’s Journey can add to your story.

What elements do you feel add to novels the most? Why do you think that?