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Focused Backstory by Carol Atwood: A Celebrate Lit Book Tour + Giveaway

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own. 

About the Book

Book:  Focused Backstory
Author: Carol Alwood
Genre: Non-fiction, writing resource
Release Date: June 26, 2019

Learn how to write characters readers will love.

Has an industry professional told you not to dump character history at the beginning of your story? If so, you aren’t alone. But what’s the solution to this common advice? Most writers take the time to design interesting characters with troubled pasts. They long for readers to care about the characters’ lives. However, the sad truth is on page one, readers don’t care—yet. That’s why industry gurus tell writers to stop overusing character history, also called backstory, at the beginning of stories. Have you ever wondered… How to use backstory correctly? What are the ways other writers successfully incorporate backstory into their work? Do tools exist to help writers better plan stories so the backstory isn’t such a problem? In Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys, you’ll find answers to these questions and more. You’ll learn how to avoid the dreaded info-dump and instead, harness curiosity so readers keep turning pages. This resource breaks down focused backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story no matter what genre or length. Worksheets, tables, questionnaires, and templates will help you plan an engaging story with deep characters. Examples from popular stories will help you understand this method.

You’ll learn how to
• design a character around a troubled past.
• create additional characters around the main character.
• weave interesting sub-plots within a characters’ journey toward healing.
• design proper obstacles which interfere with characters’ goals.
• guide readers’ emotions so they have a satisfying reading experience.

No matter what kind of writer you are, if you take the time to analyze the use of backstory, it will enhance your style. Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys is the missing gadget in your writing tool kit.

Click here to get your copy.

About the Author

Carol Alwood has an unending passion for fiction, and she can’t think of a better way to spend her life than writing books for young adults and teaching about techniques she has learned along the way. With a Master of Education, experience as a content editor, and over a decade of establishing and working with critique groups, she is an excellent resource. An award-winning author, Carol finds joy in helping writers find the right tools to plan, draft and revise their novels so they can achieve excellence in storytelling.

More from Carol

Focused Backstory resulted from a personal quest to please industry critics who suggested I keep character history out of the first pages of my novels. My initial questions to this advice were: What? Why? I searched for resources to figure out how to write a more powerful beginning without relying on the past but found little help. On a mission to find answers, I studied popular books, television and movies to abstract what made stories work and — boom! I found it! We can break down backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story without compromising artistry. This book provides definitions, examples, worksheets, templates, and comics to help writers study the art of using powerful character histories to keep readers turning pages. I’m so excited to offer this resource and hope it will empower your writing as it has mine.

My Thoughts

This is a little different than the book reviews that I typically write, Focused Backstory being the first writing resource book that I have ever had the opportunity to review--- though certainly not the first I've read. As such, this isn't going to be a read for everyone... but if you enjoy writing fiction and are looking for ways to better your writing... or are looking to start writing for the first time, this is certainly one that is worth picking up.

I love writing fiction, though I must admit since having kids I don't get to do it nearly as much as I used to or as I would like to. One of my goals for 2020 is to get back to that passion... if for no other reason but doing it for ME. Still I'm a little rusty having only written a handful of short stories in the last 10 years. I was excited to pick up this book in hopes that it would help inspire me to create better stories...and I have absolutely loved diving into it.

When I think about some of the books that I have enjoyed the most, I realize that one thing they typically have in common is that they a) have dynamic characters and b) we get to know them slowly throughout the course of the story. We may get a little bit of information at the start--- careers, etc... but the aspects of their life that make them uniquely them? Those details are revealed as the story progresses, making an enjoyable read for us as readers. The characters make the story, but their story- the life they have lived before we meet them- that is what makes the characters.

So how do we as writers create these dynamic characters in our own stories? Focused Backstory will help us do just that. It's pages are filled with practical information that we can apply  to our own writing. I love the many great examples used throughout to help us get a better grasp at what it all means--- using examples from popular books and movies. I found the worksheets, tables, questionnaires, and templates included within it's pages to be the most helpful and know I will use these again and again. In fact I would say the only real downfall for me personally is that I wish I had the physical copy rather than just the Kindle version so that I could more easily flip to these resources. It's not impossible on the ebook version, of course... just my personal preference and something to consider when choosing which version to go with.

Overall, this is a fantastic resource for writers and one that I am happy to have in my collection. I know I will turn to it time and time again and look forward to using it to enhance my stories in the new year. 

Blog Stops

Holly Jo Morris, December 28
janicesbookreviews, December 29
CarpeDiem, December 29
Jacquelyn Lynn, December 29
Mary Hake, December 30
Blogging With Carol, December 31
All-of-a-kind Mom, December 31
Genesis 5020, January 1
Pause for Tales, January 1
Emily Yager, January 3
Remembrancy, January 4
A Reader’s Brain, January 5
Sara Jane Jacobs, January 5
Godly Book Reviews, January 6
A Diva’s Heart, January 8
Artistic Nobody, January 9
Texas Book-aholic, January 10
Stories By Gina, January 10


To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


  1. Hey, trying to enter this but when you click thru it says not found error

  2. Thank you for sharing this excellent resource.


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