One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.
Surface details are absolutely vital if you want to give your protagonist that perfect finish but they’re not the beating heart of your character. Whenever you’re detailing your characters demographic details or physical appearance remember to keep it relevant.
As for “Write what you know,” I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.’
It’s time for part 3 in this little series of posts collectively entitled A Protagonist’s Anatomy. This week we’ll focus on adding another important layer which will take the words on your page and make them read like the written record of a real life person: character traits.
Put simply, a backstory is everything that happened to your protagonist before the events of your actual novel. More precisely, however, a backstory is whatever has happened in your protagonist’s past to make them who they are today.