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…



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.


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.


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.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

69 thoughts

  1. 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


  2. 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!


  3. 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!


  4. 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…


    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!


  5. 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


  6. 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.


    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!


      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….


  7. 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


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

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit


  9. 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.



    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!


    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!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.