Balancing Backstory

Laurel Cohn

Saturday 13 November, 10am-4pm

Full Price: $210
Member: $155
Conc Member: $135

There’s nothing worse than getting cornered at a party with a stranger determined to tell you all about themselves – too much backstory!

The same is true with characters on the page. Readers don’t need to be regaled with great slabs of personal history about characters in order to care about them, or in order to understand what’s happening. Backstory can notoriously bog down a manuscript, particularly in the opening chapters. But how do you determine how much backstory is too much or not enough? And where do you put it?

Through writing exercises and looking at excerpts from published books, this course with Laurel Cohn will give you a deeper understanding of how to use backstory effectively, and how to get the most out of what you know about your characters and settings without sacrificing narrative momentum.

Is this course right for you? Read our FAQ >

Expected learning outcomes

Participants will learn:

  1. The importance of understanding your characters’ backstories
  2. How to determine what backstory the reader needs to know
  3. How backstory can increase dramatic tension and amplify themes
  4. An awareness of how other writers use backstory

Participant requirements

Pen and paper, laptop optional. Please read our FAQ before enrolling.

Pre-reading: participants will receive PDF readings the week prior to the workshop, to be read in advance.

If you are feeling unwell and experiencing any COVID-related symptoms on the day of the course, please stay at home and contact us.

If you have questions about this course and/or COVID-safe guidelines, please contact us.

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Balancing Backstory


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