What I appreciate most from authors I admire is how effortless their writing seems. They start with action, then pepper in past details ever-so-daintily to give us glimpses to a character’s past and make readers feel as though these characters are our friends. We love the characters and want nothing more than to see them happy and succeeding in life!
Other than doing huge flashbacks, how does an author season their story to make it juicy? How do they add the important details of a character’s past and what has brought them to this point in the story?
One technique that I felt worked great was in a new novel I recently picked up by author Emily Bleeker entitled WRECKAGE. The two main characters have been saved after two years on an island, following a plane crash. They are being interviewed for a TV special, and being questioned is how they revert back to past events. Readers are brought to the future during the interview process. It really works when you want to split real time with past events. Another outstanding example of how to go between the present, and fill in past events that led up to it is in E. Lockhart’s book, WE WERE LIARS.
The mark of a truly great author, as I mentioned, is to make the craft seem effortless. You don’t want to take yourself out of the story and say, “Wow, the imagery is just great!” As a reader, you want to have the images pop into your mind much like the images in a movie. You don’t want to feel the writer specifically setting up such scenes. That is why I appreciate the art of writing so much, especially by those who do it so well!
As for where to start your novel, start with the action and pepper in the past details where and when needed. Don’t dump in a bunch of random facts that muddle up the recipe!
Tina P. Schwartz
Founder & Literary Agent
The Purcell Agency, LLC
© March 2015