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#FirstDraft Planning Day 14: Write the Hero’s Backstory

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Day 14’s story-prep is a continuation of Day 13 (Write the Heroine’s Backstory) which comes from the original Day 12 in the FirstDraft60 process: Character Backstories.

Write the Hero’s Backstory
As mentioned yesterday, because this is a “next generation” story, I know that my hero’s backstory opens with:

James Barstow Yates is the long-awaited only son of Collin and Susan Yates, born in Portsmouth, England, in 1815 (Susan was pregnant in RH after many miscarriages). James is named for his paternal grandfather (James Yates, Earl Childers) and his mother’s family (Susan’s maiden name is Barstow).

Because I revisited a proposal I’d written many years ago for a potential follow-up series (The Pembroke Legacy) yesterday when writing Eleanor’s backstory, I remembered seeing in it that James had followed his father’s footsteps into the Royal Navy at a young age but that he’d been forced to quit when Collin’s father and brother died within two years of each other and Collin inherited the Earldom. Of course James, as now the sole heir, can no longer put himself at risk as a naval officer.

And that got me rolling. I did a little research on what the Royal Navy was up to during the period known as Pax Brittanica (1815–1914), and not only discovered the perfect posting for James but also the specific ship and actions he’d be part of.

For both of these characters, as I worked on their backstory, I was looking for the “defining moment” in their past—the event or experience that made them who they are when the story opens. And because I was thinking about that, I was easily able to find the specific “moment” for each of them, which will make working with their goals, motivations, and conflicts throughout the story much easier, because I know where each of them is coming from.


The rest of the tasks for this week are:
Wednesday 1/24 — Day 15: 1k1hr Writing Sprint—Continue Writing Scene from Last Week, or Write a New Opening Scene
Thursday 1/25 — Day 16: Update Story Bible and Work on Any Incomplete Tasks
Friday 1/26 — Day 17: Write/Update Story Premise; Write Blurbs
Saturday 1/27 — Day 18: Write Detailed Story Synopsis (or scene-by-scene cards); Work on Outline/Seven Story Beats

How are you doing on your 2018 project goals?


If you’ve never done FirstDraft60 and want to try it, you can see the whole series at the #FirstDraft60 page linked in the header. The tasks do build on each other after the first several days, but you can move them around to best suit your style. Be sure to start with Day 1—Determining Your Commitment and Motivation with Guided Questions.

One Hour of Writing Time per Day
My one hour of writing time is scheduled for each day from 7 PM to 8 PM Central time. I’ll try to remember to send reminders on Twitter, followed by results afterward each day (after all, I do have time for social media scheduled both before and after the writing block).

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