The Ugly Truth About Writing Background Stories

Richard Parsons - DossierAs some of you might be aware, I’ve started working on my first novel. Because I’ve attempted to write this novel a couple of times, I’ve found myself working with characters I’m already familiar with. That presents some challenges, but it also presents some opportunities.

Who Is Richard Parsons?

To the left is a profile picture I created for Richard Parsons, my lupine (werewolf) character. He’s featured in two out of my four short stories featuring lupines.

Parsons first appeared in “Under a Hunter’s Moon”, which was published in the“Moon Shadows” collection. This story was originally written in an attempt to get more familiar with his history, so that I could start working on my novel. Since then, he’s also appeared in “The Lupine’s Call”, which was also written in an attempt to get his background straightened out. And that’s where my problems started…

Why Are Background Stories A Problem?

Technically, background stories aren’t a problem. They can be a very good thing for writers to have under their belts. Each story we write makes us better writers, better story tellers, and can be some of our most interesting work.

However, there are problems with background stories. Especially ones that people have read.

  • They tie us into elements of character backgrounds that might end up being contradicted by later work, if we’re not careful.
  • They also extend the level of research we need to do for new stories with those characters, to ensure consistency.
  • They rely on the reader to remember details across the entire collection of stories.

So What Are The Upsides?

I’ve asked myself a few times why I started writing the background stories, and I came up with a few answers.

  • They tie together elements of the character backgrounds that bring coherence to their histories.
  • Characters become familiar to the point where it can be second nature to write them into later stories.
  • They also allow readers to become familiar with your characters, and let you write stories that show how those characters have been changed by the events of their past.

So, while I might sometimes find myself wondering if I should have written the novel first, and then released the short stories. Or if I have managed to somehow get things right, and show my readers a taste of what is to come?

I’ll let you decide for yourself. I’m still giving away “The Lupine’s Call” for free to my mailing list subscribers. Get access to it now!

Get Access to “The Lupine’s Call” free!

Richard Parsons has a drinking problem, and when he walks out on an argument he finds himself in trouble with more than his girlfriend. Just how much trouble can a lupine (werewolf) get into?

Click here to subscribe, and get access to “The Lupine’s Call” for FREE!

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