A Writing Journey


One of my favorite parts* of writing is starting a new project. I love the thrill of endless possibilities, I love the rush of new ideas, I love the potential. But most of all, I love developing the characters, the plot, and the backstory.

I love backstory. Yes, I know it ought not always be included in the actual plot, but it is my favorite thing to develop. Why, you might ask? Because it all leads to the present.  It’s a twisty, turny path from the beginning of a character’s story (which in my opinion always begins with their ancestors) to get to where the character is interesting.

A couple weeks ago, I was at the beginning of working on my new YA project (title in progress). It takes place in Minnesota (though I might change that to Iowa) so it’s a little different than what I typically write, but it is still technically fantasy. One of the first things I did was develop the main characters. And then, I made the family tree.


Yes, I get a little carried away. (At least this isn’t the one where I color-coded the different generations!) I like to know where my characters come from. The past is important in shaping who they are, and almost always has an impact on the plot (at least in my stories). Beyond the family tree, I like to have a family history – where they came from, when major events happened, and even some idea of the lives of many of the ancestors.

Maybe I take it too far, but I love the part of history that deals with people. The people are what make any story, fact or fiction, interesting and that is why I take the time to learn the history of a story before I start writing.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? How involved do you get in creating backstory?

Take care, fellow travelers!

*My other favorite part is, of course, finishing a draft.

Comments on: "Beginnings" (8)

  1. That’s an impressive family tree! I also like working on characters and their backstories, but my ultimate favourite part is developing their relationships. I like experimenting with how their personalities and problems can affect the way they treat each other, and how their individual conflicts can combine to become a whole new one.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I enjoy developing the relationships between characters as well, especially when there is conflict between their personalities/beliefs. That can make for some interesting plot developments!

  2. tamaclagan said:

    I love backstory too. It’s like the secret I share with the characters that’s just for us. I like to write series so in my mind, books 3 or 4 down the line are when the character is going to go back to some significant place in their past and the audience is going to get to learn some really interesting stuff. It kinda spurs me along in my writing in order to get to that point.

    • I do the same thing. I love having that goal for my characters! And I love knowing everything about the characters and knowing how the past influences their behavior in the present.

  3. Back stories are always the best. Usually prefer them more than my idea itself!

    • I know what you mean! Sometimes I have developed such a great backstory that I scrap my original idea and write the other stuff – though when I do that it is usually because the backstory was more interesting than my original idea. 🙂

  4. I’m in the same camp as you – the characters, their history and ESPECIALLY their backstory are my biggest joys in planning and writing. It’s hard to explain how figuring out the characters’ pasts winds up shaping your present storyline. It’s just magic – everything ties in nicely. It just… works! I think with my WIP, I also got carried away and have far too much backstory. Nearly everything is linked together so if I’m not careful the whole thing is going to fall apart. I still love it though!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s good to see other writers with similar approaches 🙂

    • The hard part is, as you mentioned, making sure it doesn’t all fall apart. But that doesn’t take away the joy of creating it all, and figuring out how it all works together!

      Thanks for sharing!

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