Thursday, October 13, 2016

Designated Survivor and Sprinkling Backstory

At the conference last week, I attended a class about sprinkling backstory throughout your story instead of doing an info dump. Just giving your readers crumbs about the characters until they finally have a clearer picture and have gotten to know your characters like they would a real friend--a bit at a time.

As I've been watching the new show, Designated Survivor, starring Kiefer Sutherland, I have to take my hat off to the writers. Every week they are sprinkling little bits of backstory to every character and we're making assumptions about them, getting to know their fears and strengths, and we are intrigued. Take Tom Kirkman's character for example. In the first show we find out he's a family man, he serves as the president's advisor for HUD and he was being reassigned before everyone was killed and Tom suddenly finds himself as the president. In the second show, we find out that he is completely overwhelmed with what's happened and his new position, he wants hard evidence before he acts, and he's not afraid to stand up to people when it's warranted, but doesn't seem to like confrontation. By the third show, Tom's innate morality seems to be taking a beating and he's starting to realize that maybe not everything is black and white and he might have to play dirty. It's a fascinating character development that viewers can't take their eyes off of. And there has never been an info dump of ticking off talking points of what kind of person Tom is. We are slowly seeing him evolve on our screens.

That's what authors need to do in their writing. Each scene gives another piece of the character puzzle. Each bit of dialogue shows a side of the character, or an opinion, or a core belief. When we sprinkle in the backstory it keeps our readers riveted and they can easily relate to the characters we've imagined.

And that's how it is with Designated Survivor.  I hope the writers continue to be brilliant in their handling of the storylines and characters. I honestly cannot believe how fast the hour long show goes by and I always wish it was a two hour show!

Have you been watching? Who is your favorite character so far?

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