Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Ever wonder about the backstory of pets or objects in your household?

Where was this antique embroidery before it came to rest on my dresser? Who was my kitty’s mother, and why was he left at the doorstep of the animal-shelter?

If I didn’t witnessed the birth, or in the case of an object— was there at its making, there’s a mysterious backstory I invariably find myself wondering about. And then...

I conjure a story.

Storytellers have this advantage. We can make up likely backstories, and even get so attached to the stories that we no longer know where our conjuring began, and when verifiable reality took over.
Thinking about this, it occurred to me that history is filled with the same: someone filled a gap in certain knowledge, someone then repeated it, while citing the source, then a third scholar cited both as verifying each other, and voila—conjured backstory became history.

Bet it happens more than we think it does.

Back to my perch, conjuring backstories, I think how enjoyable it is for writers. We get to leave no stone unturned. We get to explain it all. Everything can—and then does—make sense. Even if I can allow for the unexplained, unexplainable, or unknown— my beta readers will insist I fill in every gap. Otherwise, they’d say, “This part doesn’t make sense.”


  1. It is fun coming up with the history of your characters. A lot of it never makes it into the story, but having it there makes a difference in how one writes the story people do see.

  2. LOL. Do I hear myself being quoted? From Ev, the math person, for whom things need to make sense. :)

  3. One of my MG manuscripts is part historical fiction, inspired by a jug my ancestors brought to Nova Scotia in the 1750s. I did a ton of research re that era, but could find nothing about a jug of its type, but now it has its own could-be-true story:)

    1. I'm decidedly the reader for that one, Jan.

  4. I often watch my neighborhood through the kitchen window as I do dishes. I have made up some doozies about them - wondering where they came from - where they are going - what is happening behind that fence...

  5. I sometimes do that when I'm reading to my niece. She can't read yet but we'd analyze the illustrations. "Maybe this monkey is ..." "Maybe that's her mom and they're going ..."

  6. Conjuring backstory is a great writing exercise! There are so many possibilities. :)

  7. I make up stories for stuff all the time without even meaning to. I think as writers we train our brains to do this and it becomes a habit.

  8. I loved the "stop fact checking my story" cartoon. Making stuff up is fun.

  9. I find myself turning your words over and over. What a cool way to look at the basis of all stories. Thank you!

  10. So many stories and back stories waiting to be told about the world around us..