As a reader, have you ever read a book and wondered why a character acted a certain way? Or what happened in their past to drive them in a certain direction? I certainly have.
As a writer, I’ll drop in bits and pieces of a character’s past in such a way that by the end of the story, you as a reader have enough information to piece together what drove a character to make certain decisions.
Still, that character’s past comes in small chunks of information.
When considering the backstory of Alex Thornton, who is the main character in Loose Ends, Book 2 of the Unit 28 series, as well as Panama Deception, the first book in the series, I thought about the characters common to both books. Hashim al-Hassan, the antagonist, has a bone to pick with Ms. Thornton. Readers got part of the reasons why in Panama Deception and will learn more in Loose Ends. Why not provide a picture of the inciting incident in a short story?
That’s exactly what I did in Orb Web. This story describes the last mission of Operation Orb Web, and it’s where Alex makes her first contact with Hashim. Writing it challenged me. After all, shorts stories are exactly that—short. For a novelist who’s used to putting everything into 100,000 words or so, and I found cutting an entire plot down to less than 5,000 words somewhat difficult.
I did it. Orb Web sharpened my editing skills and made me think about each and every word.
Do you have some time at lunch? Head on over to your favorite e-book retailer (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play Books, or Smashwords) and check it out. It’ll cost you less than a candy bar. And if you do, I’d also love for you to leave a review.
Writers: What are your thoughts on sharpening writing skills by writing part of a character's backstory in a short story? Readers: What novels have you read where you wish you had a more complete picture of a character’s backstory?
I have not received any compensation for writing this post. The work mentioned in this post is of my own writing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255:
Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”