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Backstory and Dreams – What To Do


Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

Backstory and Dreams – New Writer Pitfalls

Backstory and Dreams are traps for beginning writers. When you’re just starting out, avoid them. Yes, I know Michael Connelly uses war dreams for Bosch. 

Use these two story elements with a light touch. Best to avoid them. If you use them at all, wait until you are at least a quarter into your story. Never start with either. They peg you as a novice. 

Having a dream sequence and then the protagonist wakes up is just a no. Info dumping how he was abused, fell in love and was hurt, or any other backstory is a no. 

Dreams later in the story – if the dream elements reveal character – are just barely OK. 

Try to sprinkle backstory information in dialogue. For example a best friend can mention something and the protagonist can have an emotional reaction right then and there without spelling it out in a flashback. 

These elements need such a light touch beginning writers should avoid them. Just tell the story. 

Like long descriptive passages, dreams and backstory, slow down story progress and jar the reader out of the story. 

Writers Who Couldn’t Spell

Don’t let your fears of punctuation, spelling, and grammar keep you from telling a good story. A writer question from this week’s Mystery Monday was about giving up writing because she couldn’t spell.

Famous writers had the same problem. Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all couldn’t spell. 

Storytelling is a talent. Let an editor fix your shortcomings after you write your story.

Zara Altair
Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Her course for beginning writers Write A Killer Mystery is coming soon. Get on the notification list.  

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