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#4 Manuscript Update: Writing Histories

An open binder on a white table, with a crystal in the background.

As I cross into my third month of this project, I’m starting to feel the zap of building momentum.

My soft goal for February was to grow my manuscript to 5,000 words. Very quickly, I realized that although I knew the direction to take my book moving forward, I didn’t have a past to reference. I didn’t know my characters’ histories.

To make my story full and believable, I needed the details of major events that happened thousands of years prior to my book’s first page. So, I decided to aim for simply writing 5,000 words in February, even if they were not words to progress my manuscript.

I wrote backstories. Histories to major cities and religions. Family trees and succession records. Wars, births, deaths, natural disasters, etc. I basically wrote a detailed outline for an entire book that prequels the book I’m actually writing.

This was a surprisingly painful process—the allure of this new, fully outlined story with plot twists and vibrant characters was strong! I was ready to abandon my book and pick up this new one, but in the end, I realized I’d simply remain where I was already stuck, in a world without history. And history is really, really important to plot, as I discovered. (Or at least for the kind of tale I have to tell.)

I still have plenty of plot holes to fill for my book, but writing my world’s history relieved me some of this work. Suddenly, my map took on a personality of its own. I knew where there was conflict and where there was peace—and how the identities of the people in those regions were likely shaped for centuries afterwards.

I was able to step into the minds of people on both sides of conflict to discover why they each thought they were doing the right thing. (Whether “good” or “evil”, people rarely tend to do things they don’t believe is “right”.) I found ways to suggest empathy for those on the “wrong” side of this line, and hope to weave this blurry point of consideration through the storyline against the backdrop of “clearly wrong vs. right” events.

Perspective, perspective…

Also, I wrote a dramatic cliff hanger into the past. It’s a mystery that plays a key role in one of my main character’s journey—one that will add a little psychological suspense to the storyboard. I wrote the first scene of this story arc, a nightmare with an ominous premonition, and am geeked to witness the past tie directly into the present. (Wish I could explain more! You’ll have to trust me for now…)

On a grand scale, history motivates (or fails to motivate) a culture, whether positively or negatively. On an individual level, a person’s history reveals the origins of their rage, love, grudges, shadows, goals, etc. It’s foundational to our personalities and identities. And, it’s important to note that events may be factual, but our perspectives of those events are often subjective. So while it may not be my favorite subject, developing a strong history is vital to my ability to craft the complex world and characters I imagine.

Thanks for taking time from your day to read my little update. Sharing this journey is keeping me motivated and accountable. I’m a stay-at-home mama and try to spend at least an hour or two on my story each day. Without the blog to share the journey, I’m not sure I’d get very far. And even more encouraging are those of you who chat and share your writing endeavours on your own blogs! You keep me going! I have so much to learn, and am happy to do so alongside you.

See you in the next update!

My Soft Goal for March: Actually get my manuscript towards the 5,000 word count mark. I still have some planning to do, but there are certainly scenes I can afford to scribble down.

Earlier Manuscript Updates:
#1 It’s Time to Begin
#2 Building a World of My Own
#3 Finding My Rhythm

Photos: My photo.


  • Nicole Smith
    March 1, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    You made progress and you keep me intrigued.

  • Tom
    March 2, 2023 at 10:51 am

    World-building’s one of those things I’ve found more challenging than other aspects of a story – it’s very tempting to get sidetracked down that backstory rabbithole when I’m keen to include the details. Hope it all pans out for you! 🙂

    • Samantha Burgett
      March 2, 2023 at 11:21 am

      Thank you! I feel that temptation too. Sometimes the backstory comes easier than the current one, but perhaps I’m simply avoiding the problems with my current idea. Haha. I’ll try to keep moving forward!

  • Layla Todd
    March 3, 2023 at 9:51 am

    I so love how this manuscript update really gives insight into the process of writing and all the little changes we make along the way! 🙂

    • Samantha Burgett
      March 18, 2023 at 2:54 pm

      Thank you Layla! I’m so glad you enjoyed this update and appreciate your comment! ☺️


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