B – Backstory

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Backstory

After vanquishing the shark, Hawk retrieved his trusty titanium fishing rod, his tackle box full of exotic lures and steel hooks, and his favorite camping chair with the cupholders in each arm to hold two 40-ounce cans of the finest craft beer, and got down to what he’d really come to Lake Latrine to experience, the great love of his existence—fishing.

Hawk sat down and began baiting his hook, and reflected on his existence and what had brought him to this point, alone on the shores of a lake deep in the majestic New Jersey wilderness. Born in the bathroom of a nightclub because his wealthy mother had so much plastic surgery she didn’t know she was pregnant, his life seemed to be destined for the icy toilet waters of life. His father, the lord of a Highland castle, was out west at the time procuring a fine steed for his collection of bucking broncos. Hawk would grow up in a life of privilege, bagpipes, and rodeos, but very little love from his aloof and self-involved parents.

He grew up attending the finest schools, wearing designer clothes, with only purebred dogs as pets, and only invited to the birthday parties of wealthy kids. His one joy was learning the cowboy way from his father and hearing the stories of his ancestral Scottish home. After graduating at the top of his class at Harvard, he started his own company: MacHardcastle Feminine Products, which would catapult him to the top of Forbes’ list of the most wealthy CEOs in America. When his mother died from drinking Botox, he buried her in a solid gold casket. His father disappeared into the vast deserts of New Mexico.

Wealth and fame was hard on Hawk, and he soon came to find drinking Dom Perignon from a supermodel’s bra and having his bedroom wallpapered with hundred dollar bills left him empty and forlorn. A week ago, he made a decision—he drained his bank accounts and would spend the rest of his life at his parents’ luxury cabin on the shores of Lake Latrine, fishing his life away. From now on, it was nothing but trout, cold beers, and chigger bites for him.


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

It’s all well and good to know everything there is to know about your characters, at least the main ones. Write out their life stories in a notebook if you must and construct every intimate detail, down to the names of their childhood pets, so you can write them better and make them seem like real people. But for goodness’ sake, don’t pour all that information over your reader’s head, and certainly not all at once. That’s called info dumping.

Readers should learn the details of a character’s life as they’re needed and as they pertain to the story. These should also be gently delivered spoonful by spoonful, not via dumptruck. After all, when you meet someone in real life, do you instantly know everything about them? No. As your relationship grows, you get to know them better, bit by bit. And there are some things you may never know about that person, because it’s not important to your relationship with them, or it’s trivial, or they simply don’t want you to know. Your characters should be the same.

69 thoughts on “B – Backstory

  1. Wise advice. Although, like A, this part of the story was a hoot to read.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    Like

  2. I love the idea of writing it all out in a separate notebook because I think too many writers don’t know much about their characters and it makes them feel uninteresting.

    Like

    1. Yes! I do the same, keep notes on my characters in the separate notebook. It helps me flesh them out without overwhelming the reader with stuff they don’t need to know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great tip. In a desire to detail out, writers explain so much that it gets hard to understand.

    Like

    1. Indeed! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am hooked. And love your tips, will certainly try and follow. I cant wait what happens to Hawk next? By the shores of lake Latrine 😀 !!

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…
    A to Z Challenge 2016
    A*Alone
    B*Butterfly
    C*Curry

    Like

    1. LOL I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Thank you!

      Like

  5. What a great theme! And yes! This makes so much sense. The dump truck is a great visual to have – I’m guessing it will make it easier to remember the next time I’m writing. Thanks! Good luck on the challenge! We’re doing “I’ve Got The Music In Me” this year on The Road We’ve Shared. – looking at how important music is in the Down syndrome community. I hope you’ll stop by and see/hear! http://theroadweveshared.com/category/a-to-z-blogging-challenge-2016

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m glad it’s helping you learn! I will stop by. Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Great theme!

    Like

  7. I like your theme, and the advice!
    I always love coming up with in depth characters that evolve and show themselves over time.

    Best of luck.

    Jazminn
    Under Jazminn Skyes

    Like

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I hope you’ll come back for more!

      Like

  8. I now have the mental image of a dump truck full of words being emptied into a a book 🙂 I shall not forget it in a hurry :).
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    Like

    1. LOL quite accurate! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  9. Hi there!

    I’m stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge. I have two blogs in this challenge…my author blog at THE STORY CATCHER (www.donnalmartin.com) and my KICKS Kids Club blog (www.kickskidsclub.blogspot.com.

    If you get a chance, check them out and good luck with the challenge!

    Like

    1. I will stop by and check them out. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  10. Is it wrong that I want to read this book, even though it’s what not to do?

    Like

    1. LOL I’m glad you do! I must be doing something right. Thank you!

      Like

  11. Love this “his life seemed to be destined for the icy toilet waters of life” and I enjoy backstories as much as writing the book. I even write them, just like this, well, maybe not as good as this. LOL!

    Happy Second Day of the A to Z!
    Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
    Defending The Pen
    Parallels
    Murderous Imaginings

    Like

    1. Hahaha! I hope none of your characters end up in the icy toilet waters. 😉 I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My brain is on information overload! That back story was almost a novella within itself.

    Mary
    Twitter: @KnottyMarie
    Literary Gold
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    Like

    1. Isn’t it though? Now we know poor Hawk’s struggles inside and out!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  13. HAH! Surfed in from A-to-Z. What a great theme/project for the month! As an English teacher, I love the approach of teaching how to do something by playing with what NOT to do! I’ll definitely check back in throughout the month!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you find it entertaining (and educational)!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m sure there’s a tackle box joke in here somewhere… but then again, I’m not sure if that might tip this romance into erotica territory. Is there a firm line one can draw? I’ve always wondered about that…

    Like

    1. I don’t know how firm (ha!) the line is, but I do think there’s a difference between erotica and romance, and there’s also erotic romance so…there’s a lot of gray areas, for sure.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  15. Great lessons learned from your blog post…thanks!
    Write What Inspires You Blog

    Like

  16. OMG! The imagery! A rodeo cowboy in a kilt on The Circuit … Hawk must have been very popular in the bronco riding event. 🙃
    Mrs. Rabbit is all smiles at the thought.). 😈
    Very entertaining, and hard to believe it’s educational 🍀🐰
    Sir Leprechaunrabbit
    @leprchaunrabbit
    yourrootsareshowingdearie.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. Hahaha, yes, I imagine that would be quite a sight indeed! I’m glad you’re finding it entertaining. Thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Love your bad story and the lessons learned from it! 🙂

    Like

  18. Feminine products…LOL. Great stuff here. Thanks for the laughs.

    Like

    1. LOL you’re welcome! Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  19. I wonder whether I actually go the other way and reveal too little about my characters – they’re so visible in my head that I forget I need to describe them.
    @kimcooper63_kim from
    Kimberleycooperblog

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a struggle sometimes. I find myself over-describing at times and trying to fix it. It’s still a learning process!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. You forgot the info dump about his love for fishing–how he was introduced, what made him love it, etc., etc. 🙂

    This is great, though. I’m looking forward to reading C.

    Andrea Lundgren
    Into the Writerlea Blog

    Like

    1. Hahaha I didn’t want to make my post overbearingly long. Don’t worry…we’re going to learn alllll about fishing in a later chapter. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Goodness, let me dry my eyes. You made me cry so hard I laughed.
    Oh, good, now I can see the keybaord again 🙂

    I don’t knwo what I like best of this excerpt, if the obvious infodump, the obvious suffering of this poor guy, or the painful resolution he came to. And he’s of Scottish ancestry, of course he is.

    But listen, there is something that is possibly even worse than backstory in the opening page and yet I’ve seen it hundreds of time: the flashback.
    Three paragraphs of story, I hardly know the main character’s name, and I get a flashback to some obscure event in their past life that I need, I mean I NEED to know right NOW.
    I’m quite disappointed of you that you didn’t use that.
    😉

    Like

    1. Ohhh gosh, the FLASHBACK! There’s not a single one in this entire story, how could I have missed that? Sigh. I guess I’ll have to try harder (or not as hard) next time. 😉 I really did miss an opportunity there, though.

      LOL I don’t know if you meant to say ‘laugh so hard I cried’ instead of the other way around, but that made me laugh and I still think it could very well apply.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

      1. NO FLASHBACK????? Now you have disappointed me U_U

        ‘laugh so hard I cried’, that’s what I meant. That was me once again trying to translate directly from Italian… ehhhhhhhhh….

        Like

        1. LOL that’s okay, it was quite funny and appropriate that way anyway!

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Wait…flashback would be for F anyway, right?

            Liked by 1 person

  22. Great post! I hate reading info dumps. And if you flesh out your characters and don’t use all the info in a book, you can use that info for the A to Z challenge or to write a freebie giveaway for your fans. 😉 Have fun with the challenge.
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

    Like

    1. That’s a very good idea! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  23. Deciding how much backstory should be reveal is awfully difficult for me. It is when I start revising that I start taken out passages that I know can be deleted.
    Shalom,
    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    Like

    1. I still struggle with it myself sometimes. But that’s what the editing process is for.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  24. I really, really want to read a satire novel based on these characters and this information. It was a hoot! Thanks.
    https://doreeweller.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/b-is-for-behind-a-mask-the-unknown-thrillers-of-louisa-may-alcott/

    Like

    1. Hahaha thank you! It would be…quite interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. LOL – that romance is developing ‘nicely’ – and wow what a backstory – I may not have needed to know all of it, but it had me laughing – bagpipes and rodeos! ;P
    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

    Like

    1. LOL I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Stay tuned–for the letter C, we get to meet his mermaid love interest!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  26. Info dumping is a way of greeting people here in the South. I know more about most people than I ever have need of. I certainly don’t like it in books.

    Like

    1. LOL I can only imagine. It’s mesmerizing and horrifying at the same time.

      Like

  27. That beeping sound you hear is my dump trunk in reverse. I’m loving this journey into the bad story.

    Like

  28. You are a gifted wordsmith, Dearie 🌹
    Hopefully, I can salvage my sorry mess, and follow in your footsteps. TY, Obi-Wan! 🍀🐰

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit
    @leprchaunrabbit
    yourrootsareshowingdearie.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. LOL thank you so much! I’m trying hard to be both educational and entertaining.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Nilanjana Bose April 2, 2016 — 8:42 AM

    That was hilarious! A bit like being invited to view childhood photos of a person you’ve just been introduced to – it’s unnerving whether in a book or real life.

    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

    Like

    1. Yes! Could you imagine running into someone new and they want to tell you their ENTIRE life story? That’s exactly what info dumps are like!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  30. Amen! 😀 Info dumps bother me as a reader, unless they have a VERY good reason (and good style) for being dumped.
    Also, this is hilarious. XD

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

    Like

    1. I agree! Thank you, I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

      Like

  31. Yep, totally agree. I’m sure I’m not guilty of this nowadays. Very annoying to read stories that info dump but we all have to start somewhere I guess.
    Fran
    @FranClarkAuthor
    Writing Women’s Fiction

    Like

    1. Indeed! When I was first starting out as a writer I was really bad about doing this. I thought you had to know everything about a character up front in order to write a story about them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  32. Another letter, another great tip! This is one of the things I’m working on in my writing. How much I need to tell about my main character upfront so that the reader has enough context and what can wait until later.

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/b-is-for-boatyard-nancy-drew.html

    Like

    1. It can definitely be tricky, but like I mentioned–think about when you meet a new interesting person–you don’t know everything about them right away, do you? Just enough that you know you want to keep talking to them and get to know them better. That’s how I try to keep myself from info-dumping!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  33. This is cool! The most different post I’ve read over the last two days of the challenge. I coming back for C….cheers 🙂
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

      Like

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