Creative Writing: How to Write a Great Backstory for Your Characters | Matthew Dewey | Skillshare

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Creative Writing: How to Write a Great Backstory for Your Characters

teacher avatar Matthew Dewey, Writer, Writing Tutor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Introduction to Creative Writing: How to Write a Great Backstory for Your Characters

      2:58
    • 2. Types of Backstory | The Importance of Backstory

      4:08
    • 3. Tragic Backstory | The Importance of Backstory

      5:00
    • 4. Revenge | The Importance of Backstory

      5:23
    • 5. Legend Backstory | The Importance of Backstory

      4:04
    • 6. Subtle Backstory | The Importance of Backstory

      3:47
    • 7. Conclusion | The Importance of Backstory

      1:41
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About This Class

Welcome to the course where I show you how to write an in-depth, enjoyable backstory that will keep your readers interested. Don't make the same mistakes that so many novice authors make and instead learn how to create a backstory worthy of the best!

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My name is Matthew Dewey and I am a writer. It is hard to say when my passion for writing began, but if I can recall it all started back in primary school. A small, pale child with not much to say, but plenty to write, or in most cases scribble, across a page. From there writing became a hobby, moving on to become a part-time job writing articles on various subjects from technology to programming. Suddenly, the spark was ignited and I wrote my first novel. From there I was hooked onto something that was akin to a calling.

Enough monologue, it is time to tell you what this course is worth to you; this course is the second in a series of courses that I am creating to tackle the problems that all writers face. If you wish to learn how to create interesting and clear writing then look no further. I do the research and compile them into short, simple courses in which I give you the most important information on the subject. What is more, any questions found fitting of a new course will be accepted and answered.

I will show you:

  • How to write backstories

  • How to create legends through backstory

  • How to create subtle hints towards backstory

  • How to develop interesting characters with a backstory

  • Along with some additional tips and advice when writing in general!

Welcome to the Importance of Backstory Course! I will show you everything you need to know to create a backstory with purpose as well as gripping, interesting writing! See you soon!

Meet Your Teacher

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Matthew Dewey

Writer, Writing Tutor

Teacher

I have been writing and teaching for years, helping tens-of-thousands of students achieve their goals, be it completing their novel or publishing their work. Having written several novels, non-fiction books, hundreds of short stories and articles, I have studied and put into practice the best methods for writing effectively and efficiently.

In addition to writing, I am also a programmer and artist, teaching what I know on the subject and helping those interested get a headstart.

If you want to write a novel, a story that has been on your mind and not on paper for too long, my courses will not only help you start, but I will be there as well. Any work you submit, I will happily read, review. If you need professional advice or a friendly opinion, I will be there for both.See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction to Creative Writing: How to Write a Great Backstory for Your Characters: Bratina novel is not easy. Each chapter welcomes new difficulties you cannot foresee. Perhaps the story goes away that you have no control over. Perhaps the dialogue you rot, falls flat or even, perhaps your art, a chapter that bores you to tears. All these problems are common enough in the writing community, but what a special is the dedication to improve our learning from advice and courses such as this one. As Arata. You know, doctors. I have pride in your work grating a scene that could make you smile when you read it mentally, patting yourself on the back for your use off vocab and your creativity. My name is Matthew, and I've been writing several years now. I would give you a number, but it is our depend on exactly when my interest in the writing world began recalling. Now I can still see myself as a child writing stories in my primary school years, nothing more complex than some simple, childish thoughts, like describing a house as rid. Nothing more complex than that, but it was a start. I started writing professionally, however, around three years ago at the publication of my first novel, the four horsemen. Today I've released several novels and right every chance I get to finish the next adventure. Writing is a passion. I'm sure you and I are both share. Otherwise, you wouldn't be watching this introduction, and I would have never made the course. Welcome to the importance of backstory. Backstory is often used in novels as a means of creating a deeper character in both personality and purpose. However, there are some cases where backstory is being used incorrectly, and a jeopardizes the plot to completely or it falls flat. And it wasted the readers. Tom, essentially, backstory should only be a tool used were necessary. Otherwise, you don't know what damage it could do to your novel. I'm here to provide you of relevant advice on creating improved backstory for your novel. But more than that, I plan on giving advance that so many authors seem to overlook. By the end of this course, I want you to be able to continue writing with more confidence on the subject as all of your story begins to flow better with the back story that builds it up rather than tears it down. I know that sounds like a lot to ask for. But these are the methods that are found applied to every writer, and chances are this course holds the missing puzzle piece you've been looking for. Do not hesitate to take the first step because you don't know how far you'll get. Once you do with that inter out of the way, let's create backstory of depth and purpose. I'll see you in the first listen. 2. Types of Backstory | The Importance of Backstory: Welcome to the first lesson on backstory. Let me start this lesson with a question which all writers should consider. What is the purpose off backstory? Backstory, in its definition is a narrative providing history or background context. What this could applied to is anything that has a notable passed, such as a place event and especially a character in your novel. Backstory has often been used haphazardly, however, throwing nurtures that have no context, no ground to the middle. Essentially, there is no context or necessity to a back story, and it served as nothing but padding to the novel. Now I can understand, while some would like to use backstory to evoke emotions in a reader, but that has no place in serving the novel if it doesn't add interest in the present a plot from the very definition, we can see exactly when to use backstory and is best used when what happened in the past follows through into the present. An emotional backstory is most effective and appreciated if there is closure in the present , but if it is not used to tie off like a loose end, it will hang the in the A until the reader loses interest. With that out of the way, we can proceed with the lesson confidently knowing what exactly, to rot in each backstory scenario. For this course, I decided to talk about the most common and enjoyed back story arcs. First, the tragic back story tragedy has often been used in back story arcs. It invokes emotions that provides reason behind a character's behaviour, and it creates other sense off empathy or disdainful certain characters. Secondly, the revenge story are the's story. Arcs are more present in action or suspense novels but can be used elsewhere, although a little more carefully. These are backstories that explain why character is doing the things they do in the present . These arcs. It could be done in a number of ways, which are go through in a later lesson. But revenge backstories can have surprising complexity to them, so don't rule them out to spot being the most common. Thirdly, legend backstories. I use the word legend poetically easy. These are back stories that talk of a coming of greatness off a character, a rise to a greater purpose, if you will fate. Destiny, etcetera are inscribed in legend telling of a day of a hero will step forward, blah, blah, blah. Most fantasy novels use this back story in many ways. These back stories are usually used for main characters, and they rise to glory. Or perhaps it could be used as a back story to an evil character. And as they Ross to the greatness as well, it is a lot more complex, but certainly a favorite, as it is often used, finally creating a subtle backstory. Settle back stories. Similar lease appreciated backstory top there often pages upon pages, perhaps even chapters explaining backstory. But subtle backstories leave you with the pieces throughout the novel for you to build your own backstory. Worth pieces coming in forms of dialogue, descriptions of situations that hint at what happened in the past. It is a difficult backstory, top to rot, especially when it is not done rat. It can leave a really confused and unhappy, and they haven't the back stories that have consumed literature on the shelves today, and I'll be showing you the best ways in which you can write each of them. For those who have decided on a plot and back story, arc already feel free to skip to your desired video. However, if you're interested or unsure which backstory to pick, I'll see you in the next listen and which we'll discuss the first stop, but for now. 3. Tragic Backstory | The Importance of Backstory: Welcome to your backstory course, and this listen will be discussing tragic back stories and how to use them effectively. First, limited about the most powerful tops off tragic back story. The's back stories are all about loss, losing someone or part of yourself. More specifically, if you wish to create a powerful back story, you need to write something that could be related to buy the reader. Sadness is one of the emotions everyone has experienced. So the most easy back story for you to write thing is something from your past. Your fund that will be easier than two great dialogue with the character because you need only think of what you would say. It doesn't matter if it breaks character for moment, because in that moment, your characters at their weakest. And that is when humans act very similar. However, if that is too personal, you can always create a sad backstory on ideas or fears that you have had yourself. Now, when it comes to writing the sad backstory, I don't recommend all those trucks you heard before, like rot on a rainy day or right when you have served, and if he coffee and it makes you but upset. Writing with a certain emotion at heart is a poor idea, because it may be difficult to think clearly the next time you have to write it and you're feeling different. You are right after all, and the best time for you to write anything is when you are seated and want to rot. That is the emotion that you need to hold most dear to you. And that is the emotion that you're gonna have to keep very mutual when writing something. Otherwise, things won't be as powerful as you'd think. In fact, emotions could be all over the place, and it'll come off as a broken or should I say, flat story? Tragic pasts can come in a variety of arcs, doing something to have it unappreciated, never confessing one's love, losing someone and being reminded of them by what they leave you with, sacrificing oneself to be left empty and so on. From these sad back stories, many things can spawn inside your character, and it all depends on their personality. Did tragedy make them stronger or weaker? More so than that. How will they come to peace with the tragedy like a stated in the first listen, the last thing you want is something hanging in A like that and a character finding peace of the sad backstory can have a huge impact on the reader. The last stage of grief is acceptance. After all, tragic back stories are based, written in chapters or through long dialogue. The reactions of the character's backstory in but in both are very important as well. If you're writing from their perspective at the time, they need to show raw, powerful emotion. Sadness, angle, emptiness even need to be made incredibly clear in these chapters. Otherwise, the back story doesn't have the same emotionally powerful impact on the reader. However, if they are discussing the story much later, the emotions need to be softer or even a little different. Are there still angry? Or they now mournful? Changing emotion in the future is a great idea, as it will give the reader subconscious hope that the character will find peace a change in the emotional state. Which brings me to the final point to discuss on the subject. Hope the character in the reader need to have a least a slight inkling off hope that things will improve to keep interest. It will make it a lot more heartfelt if the character does finally a piece. In the end, keeping that hope of love is not easy, however, especially if your character has lost a lot in the back story. However, nothing is impossible and nobody fools too deep that they can't stand up again. It is up to you the rata, to decide if the character rises in an inspirational conclusion or leaves the back story arc unresolved as a through the own death or their lack of strength to accept what has happened. The ending is up to you, and I wish you intuitive writing when he reached that conclusion. If you're picking someone up from the lowest and raising them to the highest, it's gonna take a lot of intuitive and clever writing as you're gonna have to convey the emotions clearly and realistically. Otherwise, the emotion falls flat. Emotion is something so fickle to play with that you can either do it really well or really badly. So take your time with it, and soon your fun answer to your writing that you'd be looking for. For now, however, that concludes this lesson, and I'll see you in the next one 4. Revenge | The Importance of Backstory: we'll come back to the backstory course, and in this listen will be discussing the revenge backstory. This top of Beck stories, often a direct result of a tragedy last, can lead to many emotions or negative, and modern is anger. Anger could be pushed into other activities, using that rule, energy and emotion to create, but commonly it is used to destroy. Thus it leads the protagonist to take their revenge to heart and seek out those who did them wrong. This is the other path that a tragic back story can lead to. It can become a revenge backstory, a story of a protagonist on their way to seek redemption in a way, or to seek peace of mind through destruction. Now this is very similar to avenging someone. For example, a hero could avenge the fallen friends or others who the heroes compassion felt for revenge is more personal and often described as a negative arc. Revenge stories are grateful action and adventure and a way to escape one's own pain. As I stated before, in our first lists and revenge stories can go two ways. One you can begin with the events leading up to the main plot, or you can start in the middle and refer back to the event that it started it all. Both can be fantastic reading and can make some interesting back stories as well. But it depends on the personal preference off the writer. Of course, perhaps Cerrato wants to leave it up in the a greater lack of surety of the past, often leading to a twist ending to what led this protagonist to go down the path. Now there's plenty of advice that I can give you to build a strong story. First, the event that starts the part of revenge should crush the character the character needs to be lower than they've ever bean a crushing loss. Wayne on them constantly a story of a character that is only mildly hurt by something and takes revenge comes off childish and cold, make it impactful, make it memorable and make sure your character carries that weight with them at all times. Secondly, it is a great idea to make a hero remorseful and a villain, and carrying the villain will see revenge as if it is something that only matters and nothing else. Everything else and anyone else is simply in the away. The hero may start this way, of course, but is only with Tom and pondering the destruction in their wake. Do they become remorseful? That is because heroes tend to have a soft heart or more golden. When I should say I don't want to sound as if describing someone with a softer heart is negative. In fact, it could make them stronger and more forgiving, and that requires great strength in itself. The hero must regret their choices that they have made one or two things. What happened to make sure they feel this way? The Herald works towards revenge with lists, aggression. Once they reach this conclusion and they will lose their blood first, all they do something powerful yet anticlimatic. They forgive the villain, imprison them for justice's sake, maybe, but not murder them. My third piece of advice on revenge stories is to realize what do you want to write? Most action and suspense novels make use of a revenge backstory, but their novels that go deeper and more realistic. However, there is Hollywood who goes guns blazing and they usually action packed novels. Do you want to write something more realistic and powerful or something that is more action oriented and energetic. Once you've established that right in scenes will become easier in your mind, you can decided T shirt focus more on situations than on dialogue or the other way around. As long as you keep the intentions in mind for your story. The 1st 2 points should fall into place nicely. All the while, the back story needs to carry suit. As I stated, the character needs toe way, that back story constantly. It is what drives them to do things that they do and make sure that the back story is powerful as it needs to fuel the character to do things that they do. No character is gonna go on a part of distraction without proper course. Like I said before, powerful backstory can lead through to a powerful ending. And that is no different for revenge. Backstories if it falls flat in the back story than the whole premise of the novel is lost . And so therefore, the plot seems unfounded. For now, that concludes this look at backstories leading to vengeance, revenge backstories or some of my favorite arcs, and they are fun to read. But in my own writing, a prefer giving them to sod characters and villains instead of the main character. However, that is just my preference. And perhaps you want to focus more on a revenge story for the main character, and that can be great in itself, and I wish you luck with it. Thus the listen comes to a close, and I'll see you in the next one. 5. Legend Backstory | The Importance of Backstory: Welcome back to the back story course, and this listen will be discussing the legend backstory. The legend backstory is fantastic for gaining the interest of a reader. The for those curious as to what religion backstory is. Allow me to explain. In most major fantasy and adventure novels, there's a past event where someone is predicted to be a future savior and our stories, their protagonists starting from nothing a common person rising to fulfill greater purpose . Or finally, there is a world fallen into a darkest situation, and one small. There is someone in the right place at the right time to make a difference. When I say this is the legend back story arc, I refer to the many names that could be associated with it. Fate's destiny, Higher purpose. Everywhere you look at it, these back stories often the most boring, as they don't add substance to the protagonist all villain, depending on the angle you work from. In most cases, the character that belongs to the legend back story arc started from nothing and rose to where they are today. Of course, that doesn't add much to their skills. Their doesn't fake their personality and heart. These stories tend to make use of a clever tactic to invest the reader erotic creates a character that could actually exist an average person with a laugh, an apartment in a monthly salary, for example, or perhaps depending on the sitting, a farmer. All these cases, these are people and incredibly low situations compared to where they will be. By the end of the novel, in grating, such a character was such a backstory, the reader can relate more to the character. Simply put, the reader will place themselves in the characters shoes, especially if it is the main character. It is a great way to gain the interest of the reader as well as to keep them reading as they are no longer reading a story about someone else. The reader is pursuing a dream of greatness through another character, as that character might have started in the same or similar situation as the reader. Now, I don't think I am saying that the reader is going as far as to put themselves into a fully invested mentality. The Rena won't believe they are such a fictional hero when reading the book, but they will be chairing the character on to win the favor of the reader is all that a rotten needs to do to have them finished the novel. And in a fantastic way, it is simply to appeal to what the reader understands. The's destiny based backstories usually start with an oblivious character grows into a world they will make their own. The back story would discuss the characters family upbringing in a normal events that took place in the laugh and carry with them throughout the level. These back stories are the most average intentionally moving on from that explanation on investing. The reader thes backstories also add realism to a character making the more believable. I'm sure you can think of many events in your own life will fabricate some for your character to breathe them. Some really laugh. Personally, I enjoy these back stories. It has often been inspiring as well as entertaining to throw someone, sir average into a strange world and picture there fish out of water faces as they come to grips with what is going on. I recommend this back story arc to begin authors as well as those who are working with fantasy. It is common but well appreciated by anyone who reads them. And was that the listen comes to an end and I'll see you in the next one. 6. Subtle Backstory | The Importance of Backstory: welcome back to the back story course and in this lesson will be discussing one of the most difficult back story tops. I'm here to surprise most of you and tell you that you are most likely doing this already in your levels, but a great number of you are doing it wrong. What I am talking about is making subtle hints, tools, a backstory instead of going forward with long dialogues or perhaps even chapters dedicated to that time period. However, like me, they're all right. Is he prepared to leave a passed up in the A and create a sense of mystery? With that? There's also the decided benefit of there being some space to add another back story arc. Perhaps, of course, this appeals more to the first person writing their narrative writing. As you narrate something in a book, the reader will end up knowing a lot more than the characters themselves. However, in a first person, you only know as much as the main character. That being said when writing from the first person, it is difficult to be subtle as you reveal the back story. You need to do it realistically. Most people in certain situations won't go on a dramatic monologue like writers do in narrative rotting. So be careful and realistic. One revealing information. Most dialogue were involved, the character revealing only select pieces of their past not only to answer another character, but to keep some information hidden from the reader that the difficulty is making sure there is enough back story being mentioned for the character to have depth you don't want to character. That is bland two dimensional, which means you need to add depth through interactions as well as backstory. Writing in this way can be a strange balancing act, and using this back story makes it puts a lot more weight on one side that you need a compensate for now, before it's very off the idea of writing something using Settle back story, Let me go through some benefits. Some I have mentioned one being the freedom to work with vague hints of a background. Another benefit is this method can work well in any genre fantasy, Saffar, horror, suspense, romance and so on. Not only that, you can give the character traits that are unexplained and leave it to the reader to piece together vague past allows for more unique and interesting characters without having to stray so much undeveloped them. It allows you to create more unique and interesting characters without having to stress so much under developing a realistic reason for them to behave that way. Finally, let me conclude this lesson with one more piece of of us. If you decide to work with this backstory top, make sure you use dialogue whenever you can. Don't drop hints that the characters past with every sentence. But have another character asked the main character question that is on the reader's mind as well. It is a wonderful feeling for the reader to find an interaction like that. They are instantly drawn into the novel more. That kind of investment is golden and old of literature, so be sure to give you a reader, but of what they want here in the to keep them reading was that this lesson comes to an end . This is the last listen in the course, and I hope you enjoyed in the next video. I'll be keeping your brief conclusion to what you have learned. I'll see you then 7. Conclusion | The Importance of Backstory: and thus the course comes to an end to all writers and interested viewers. I say thank you for watching a pennant, creating more courses such as this one to tackle the issues that hit Rot is the most and back story was a fun one, too Great a swell, as I hope for you to watch when it comes to my first novel, are struggled immensely to create characters or strong backstory. Some characters I gave too much too often and others I didn't give any except a second awkward scene where, after an entire chapter of back story at the reader, safe to say that my first novel wasn't the based in Mars. But it led me to do proper research into the subject and finally struck gold. I developed a formula for backstories, and now you have it as well. This course contains most important pieces of advice I have read and received on rotting back stories. It is my hope that this course has proved useful to you in clarifying what is important in constructing the back story as well as what isn't important now before you dive back into your writing. How about chicken at my profile and follow me. I'll be releasing courses such as this regularly and you're watching and enjoying them means a lot. And it supports me in creating more courses to answer those questions plague in your mind once more. Thank you for watching Good day did not and happy rotting.