“I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate to the left or right, the readers will most certainly go into it.” – C.S. Lewis

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” —Ray Bradbury

Reading Assignments:

Backstory

1.) The Art of Revealing Backstory in Your Writing – by Tom Farr
2.) 4 Ways to Write Backstory That Matters – by K.M. Weiland
3.) The Complete Guide To Creating Backstory In Speculative Fiction – by Writer’s Edit (This has great advice, no matter what genre you’re writing.)

Subplots

1.) Subplots! – by Jordan McCollum (This is a 7 part article and each part is relatively short and can be found on the same web page.)
2.) SubPlots Deepen and Enrich Stories: Here’s How – Darcy Pattison
3.) Shipping and Handling, Part 1: How to Write Romantic Subplots – by J.K. Ullrich

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Writing Assignments:

1.) Choose a character and answer the following questions from K.M. Weiland’s article on backstory: a.) What brought your character to the beginning of your main story? b.) What is your character’s motivation? c.) What is your character’s ghost? d.) which backstory revelations will advance the plot? e.) Now what does your story look like without including any backstory? f.) Can you include just hints and implication and have everything still make sense?
2.) a.) Figure out what type of subplot(s) you have or would like to have in your novel from Jordan McCollum’s article. Start mapping it out so that you can incorporate it into your main plot later. b.) Now imagine your plot without these subplots. Does the main story hold up on it’s own? Is your main story better/tighter/easier to follow with less detail or not?

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Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before. This is also a good place to reintroduce yourself, if necessary.

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes: Write a scene involving the backstory of a specific character that defines that character, but won’t end up in your novel later on as a full scene. 
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) In small groups, talk about your backstory assignment. Go through the questions you answered and talk them through with the group. How much of them do you actually need for your story? How important are they to defining your characters?
2.) In small groups, talk about your subplot(s). Do they fit with your main story plot-wise? Should they be their own story?