Timeline, People! and Character History Might Be Nice

I never understood the importance of back story, or the history of either a character or storyline.  I thought, “why do I need a timeline?”  Clearly I was blind. 
YOU NEED A TIMELINE AND HISTORY!

Got that?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t write out the entire history of my story, but I do make major character sketches after reading a book that recommended it.

The reason for me stating this?  I’m in love with a certain actor right now. David Roberts.  (He’s kind of obscure, but he was Cyrus in Fools Gold, and Roland in Matrix 2)  Anyways, because I love the way he looks and he is the basis for a character I’ve created, I wanted to see some of his other acting jobs. 
I started watching one of his films, The Square.  I have yet to finish this movie, but the beginning is all about these two lovers having affairs.  Fine, no biggee.  But how did they meet?  They live across the river from each other and there is no indication they run in the same circles.  What is their history?

I’m not talking from birth, but seriously, let’s try and figure out a bit about each one of them so that I can kind of have a clue what is going on.  Seriously, the first scene is of the two of them getting it on in a car…………   No prelude?  No, I’m so and so, and she’s so and so.  I sat there wondering who these people were.

Now, if you look at some really good films, Transformers, Father of the Bride,  Transporter, etc (my mind is blanking, but those are ones I know), all of them have some history.  In Transformers you have Optimus Prime narrating.  Same in Father of the Bride.  And Transporter is fairly self explanatory within the first five to ten minutes.  There is all a bit of history and character back story somewhere.

You need it to really get what is going on.

However, then there are some people who give you too much.  I’ll use books here for example.    Number one.  As much as I love the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling just added a bit too much to every book  on the whole back story.  She repeated it ever book, and just a bit too much.

Another one is Laura Childs and her Tea Shop Mystery books.  I was unable to finish her’s because there was too much back story.  It is needed, but a brief overview is good.  Not a whole three pages or whatnot.  (I may be exaggerating there)

Now, when I create most characters, I think about what their story is.  Because how they grew up, what they like, what they do, determines what they are like and how they act.  You don’t have some girl from Beverly Hills who’s always been a ditz becoming a lawyer.  Sorry all you Legally Blonde fans… It just doesn’t happen.  Fun, goofy story, but not real. 

Okay, bad example.  But you catch my drift.

So, one, have a back story and timeline of sorts.  Two, don’t go into a whole chapter of detail.

Writing on
~K.L.B.

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