Writing

Plotting a Character’s Life {WORDS Blog Tour}

Welcome back TWNers!!!! Today I have the honor to take part in the Words blog tour to celebrate the launch of a NEW author site!!! So go check out my super awesome friend Kaley’s FANTABULOUS site and join us today for a post on backstories!! 

The first part of this post was written by the one and only Kaley and the second part I wrote. I’ll put a tiny breaker in between so y’all know who did what but won’t take attention away from the post. 🙂 

And now…. THE POST!!!

Humans are complicated. It’s an established fact that you yourself have almost certainly groaned about at some point or another. Why are they complicated? Because of the unique set of information they have to process every day and the also unique circumstances that teach them how to process it.

Since new things happen daily that they react to by their past situations, you can basically say that a human is a robot coded by the universe and the coder’s never done. So when we, as writers, come to write a book in which we become the universe and want to set the code, we have to keep in mind what other lines of code are written before the code of the story.

Before the story happens, if it’s to be believed, thousands of events have happened that have shaped your character. She or he has beliefs and misbeliefs, knowledge and areas of foolishness, and so many various memories that need to be the basis of what happens. So if you want to write a story about a doubtful kid learning to trust a goof of a king, you’ll need to choose the character to craft the story around who could actually end up in that situation. What past situations does this character need to present this message believably? You need to give them a background check until you’ve found the one.

Let’s say your story is about a girl in a hospital who meets a musical boy. She shows him the bad in the world he didn’t quite believe in and he shows her the beauty of the world that she’d forgotten. Who is this girl and what brought her to the hospital? Why doesn’t she remember beauty? And who is this boy? Why wouldn’t he know the pain of the world? How would their meeting affect each other, really? Could they believable become friends? You need to make sure that these things could actually happen and that means checking their backstory and explaining it and applying it to your story.

***

Let’s be honest, crafting a character’s backstory can be loads of fun. And it’s usually the moment when the whole “evil author” tactic shines through the strongest. However, there are a few areas to keep in mind, let’s say key aspects you’ll want to try to check off so to speak, when creating this backstory. 

The first is, your character’s backstory needs to in some way connect to what their current desire of “character want” is. What are they aiming for? What is the one thing they want more than anything that they’ll do whatever it takes to get? What’s their biggest desire that they believe, if they could just get, will make them happy? Now the biggest question of all: why do they want it? Let’s look at Ally Carter’s YA thriller novel All Fall Down. Grace’s biggest desire is to find her mother’s killer. Why? Because the night she saw her mother die, she saw a man with a scar, but no one would believe her. Now everyone thinks she’s crazy. But if she could just find this killer, she can prove them all wrong. You see how the backstory ties into the character’s desire? Let’s try another. In Lauren Wolk’s MG historical fiction novel, Beyond the Bright Sea, Crow has no idea who her parents were or where she’s come from. Her guardian, Osh, just found her one day. However, many people believe Crow might’ve come to a nearby island that used to be a colony for those with leprosy. Because of this, many people reject her or try to stay away from her, thinking she might be contagious. Crow wants to discover who her family were/are, maybe even find a place she belongs. Without these backstories tying into the character’s desire, their want isn’t great enough or strong enough for us to care about. 

Secondly, backstory can and should have a direct impact on the character’s lie. Maybe there was something in their past that is the result of why they believe about themselves and the world the way that they do. Opinions like these don’t just come from nowhere. They have a heavy influence from the character’s backstory. It doesn’t just have to be something huge. It could even be something small that happened that implanted the lie. In Melanie Cellier’s YA fairy tale retelling The Princess Companion, Alyssa’s character lie is that she isn’t a strong person. Why? Because all her life, growing up with her older brothers, they always teased her for being too sensitive and weak. This is a great example of how some character lie’s can be a result of something small that happened in the past. 

In the end, backstories are a lot of fun to write and read! They can reveal major plot twists, surge the story along, bring a bit of excitement, and most importantly, play a huge impact in the character’s life! Backstories don’t have to be dramatic past events, they can even be something small as a mean comment or drastic change that occurred in the character’s life. No matter how your backstory is portrayed, remember the influence they can have over your character’s desire and lie.

Kaley Kriesel is a 15-year-old Christian author from Oklahoma, USA, where she pursues Jesus and studies from her home. She has been writing for as long as she can remember, and when she isn’t writing, learning, or socializing, you can most often find her playing ukulele or reading a book. She has two blogs, Words and Sketch Scribble Scribe

THANK YOU Kaley for helping me out with this post!!!!! Make sure y’all check out her blog AND don’t forget to hop on and catch the rest of the blog tour:

Dunno about y’all, but I’m personally excited to the post about writing villain motivations. C’mon. Y’all gotta admit that’s a fun topic. XD

And super huge shout out to Jenna Terese’s post for the tour of which I copied and pasted all the graphics and information. If y’all were expecting something’s changed since the last few blog tours and I’m not still too lazy to open my email and get it for myself, well, sorry to disappoint.

So do you enjoy writing backstories? Which is easier to come up with and write: a character’s desire or a character’s lie? Who else is too lazy to open their email? I need to know I’m not the only one. 😂

Until the next post,

Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,

Issabelle Perry

Issabelle Perry is a proud Jesus follower, an extroverted writer of historical fiction, and a homeschool graduate. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, jamming to Skillet, bullet journaling, hunting for Narnia in wardrobes, or envisioning herself wielding a magnificent sword (but due to her clumsiness, let’s hope that never happens). This self-proclaimed exclamation mark enthusiast can be found hanging out at Teen Writers’ Nook, a community of teen authors Issabelle co-founded in 2020. Her short story “Fairly Impish” was featured in Owl Hollow Press’s Change the World anthology, and Issabelle is the co-editor for Teen Writers’ Nook’s Imagine anthology and Grace A. Johnson's upcoming Christian romance anthology. What she’s probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people or scanning the pantries for chocolate.

27 Comments

  • Rylie 😉

    Ohh, great post y’all! This really helped me clarify that my character works. I guess? XDD Yeah, so the backstory is how she is. lolll *really needs to get off laptop and read a book since it’s 10 at night* in my defense, i went out to eat some bread that mom baked after reading for a while, and came to check on the laptop for some reason… i had a reason that i still haven’t got around to getting. Something to do with googling something about Zac Efron… XDD Well, bye! loll

  • Ally M.J.

    Creating characters is amazingly easy but also equally disastrous and scream-into-pillow-fest inducing. My MC Camryn has a pretty basic story- well-off family, captain of the volleyball team, has a quirky sense of humor, 2.4 siblings and a dog. You know, a regular girl. So she should be pretty easy to write, right? NO. SHES SO HARD TO WRITE. And for like NO REASON OTHER THAN TO SPITE ME. I’ll be rereading a chapter and my little mental editor- I named it Sera- will be all “But why would she say that? Would she really be inclined to do that? I don’t think that she should react that way, given her past” and on and on and on and on… it’s exhausting.
    Most of Cam’s backstory that actually plays into my WIP is about her siblings and their experiences together. She adores her brothers and her sister, and they adore her too. Which sets my entire WIP into motion. But I need to find ways that Cam’s fear of swimming comes into play, or why she wants to join the military ASAP, or why she, and only she, seems to care that her brothers have vanished while camping in the most haunted spot in America.

    • Issabelle Perry

      Yep, that about sums it up! Couldn’t have put the description of creating characters into better words myself! 😉 Oooo Camryn sounds so interesting!!!!! LOL. You know she’s just enjoying herself by giving you all those problems. XD A character’s gotta have a little fun now and then. (Also, I loooove Sera! I need to name my own mental editor. XD)

      Oooooo okay can I just say I am now officially in love with Cam and want to know more!!!!! Ah even though she’s giving you some problems, she sounds like a ton of fun to write!!!! But I hope you figure out how to fix those story problems. You’ve got this, girl!!!!! THANK YOU for reading!!!!

  • Joy C. Woodbury

    Awesome post, ladies! Backstories are honestly my favorite things to write. It’s so intriguing to see how they influence the people our characters are today. Personally, I find it easier to come up with my characters’ lies. I always stumble over their desires – they just want so many things! How do I narrow it down into one sentence? XD

    • Issabelle Perry

      THANK YOU SO MUCH JOY!!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaah girl MINE TOO!!!!! I kind of lose myself in backstory writing. XD Yes, girl, I know it!!! It really is so interesting, and creating my character’s backstory actually helps me shape my character better too!!! Yessssss!!!!! Same here!!! A character’s desire… that’s just always so hard for me. XD I KNOW RIGHT!!!! but then again, my characters always have like fifteen million lies so maybe I’m not as great with that as I thought. XDD THANK YOU for stopping by TWN!!

  • Ellie

    Wow, great post, Kaley and Issabelle! It’s so cool that you started a blog, Kaley!
    Backstory… I have a weakness for backstory. For one of my big series that I’m about to start working on, there is one very important event that everything comes back to, and when I got to write a flashback to it(and finally reveal what happened after the characters referencing it since early on)… THAT was fun.
    Ooh, it depends on the character, but I think a lie is easier in general. I mostly only check my email cause it’s pinned to my Home Screen, and if it weren’t…
    Anyway, this was a great post with lots of great points to think on!!!! Congrats on starting your blog, Kaley!!

    • Issabelle Perry

      THANK YOUUUUUU ELLIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Girl, you and me both. I feel like I flesh out my characters’ backstories more than the actual story plot. XD It’s just SO much fun!!!! OooOOoOOoOOooo I am intrigued!!! Aaaaaahhh now I’m really interested!!! I am so glad you had such fun writing it!!! Those scenes are always the best, to write and to read!!!! Eeek I’m excited for you!!!!
      Yes, I agree that it does depend, and I think I’m the same way. At least, I spend more time on the character lie than any other part so it’s gotta be easier for me. Oooo that’s pretty convenient!!! LOL.
      THANK YOUUUUU!!!!!!! I’m so lad you enjoyed it!!!!! (*cough* “glad” not lad. XD) YES CONGRATS KALEY!!!!!!

  • Saraina

    GREAT post, girls!!!!! Character backstory is one of my favorite things ever, both to read and to write!! I especially have a weakness for tragic backstories… although it’s not realistic for EVERY character to have gone through a traumatic life experience, of course XD But you’re so right – backstories are what shape the character into what they are, so they’re so very important (and fun *winks*) to develop!

    • Issabelle Perry

      THANK YOUUUU SARAINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YESSSS GIRL SAME HERE!!!!!!! Aaah I obsess over backstories, especially when it’s super tragic and painful and it leaves my character all broken deep down even though they try to hide it. Hehehe #EvilAuthor. YESSS TRAGIC BACKSTORIES ARE THE BEST!!!! Wut? Who said it wasn’t realistic? LOL I’m just kidding. But it’s too tempting not to give them all tragic, heartbreaking backstories. XD YESSSS!!!! Couldn’t have said it better myself!!!! THANK YOU for reading, Saraina!!!

  • Emma

    Ahhhhh awesome post, ladies!!! I love backstories and I know this is going to help me a lot when writing one! Thanks for sharing this!!! *scurries off to catch up on the blog tour* XD

    • Issabelle Perry

      AAAAH THANK YOUUUUUUU EMMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YESSS BACKSTORIES ARE THE ABSOLUTE BESTEST!!!!!!!!!! Yaaaaaay I am SO thrilled to hear that!!!!!! You’re very welcome, E!!! Thank YOU for reading!!!!! *also tries to catch up on the blog tour* *and fails* *and gives up* XD

  • Diamond

    Yessss, I’m SO excited for Kaley’s new blog!
    This was an awesome post. I think that backstory can be really important, and I especially like the book examples you used.

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS SO AM I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Thank youuuuuuu!!!! *tips hat* Yesss, same here!!!! Backstories play such a huge impact on the character’s life! THANK YOUUUU!!!!!! (Though I do have you to think for getting me to read the Melanie Cellier one. *realizes she needs to continue the series* *adds it to TBR*)

  • Lorelei Angelino

    Kaley — Great post! It was nice and short and informative! (I also LOVE All Fall Down!) You look so pretty, btw!!

    Izzy — I’m actually working on a character’s backstory right now! I’m not the best heheh. LOL I open my email inbox all the time . . . I’m just too lazy to actually read my emails XDDD (Also, I love the quote of the month! I’ve been wanting to read that book!)

    • Issabelle Perry

      All Fall Down is AMAZING!!! *high fives*

      OOOOOOOOOO Perfect timing then!!!!! *is really amazed how I keep doing this* XD Hehehehehe. Aaaah, girl, that actually makes me feel better. XD At least when I open my inbox, I do actually read them. XDDDDD Though it doesn’t do me any good if I never open it. XDD (THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That book is SO good. Highly, highly recommend!! Stephanie Morrill is SUCH a fantastic author!!!!! Which actually reminds me I need to put up the quote of the month for June… *hurries off to do that*) THANK YOU FOR Reading!!!!!!

  • RangerElfLegend

    Ohhhh I loved this post! Character backstories are always sooo fun to write…I feel that the more you know your characters–their personalities, habits, fears, morals etc—the easier they are to write. And now that I’ve said that, my own characters are going to give me the worst time. XD
    I have to admit….I’m a little confused by the meaning of “the character’s lie.” I feel like I should know what that means and I don’t…..
    Anyway, great post guys!

    • Issabelle Perry

      Aaaaaah THANK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!! Yes, they are! Like seriously, THEY ARE. I completely second that!!!! I think that’s why for me, the longer I’ve had a book idea, and the more I spend with my characters before writing, makes writing the book THAT much easier because I’ve learned SO much about my characters!!!!!! LOL. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. *glares at your characters* c’mon characters, help your author out here a bit!!! XD
      I think the “character’s lie” has another term that’s more commonly used, but I don’t remember it. XD But basically the character’s lie is what they believe about themselves and the world that isn’t true. Like in my own WIP my MC’s character lie is that because of a disorder he has, everyone believes he is weak and he has to prove his strength. I hoped that help. I actually have plans to talk more about the character lie in a future post. 🙂
      THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!

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