Prequeling: Harvesting Backstory for Further Tales with Beth Daniels

Craft Prequeling: Harvesting Backstory for Further Tales with Beth Daniels

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You’ve built one heck of a fictional stage for your characters to cavort on. Maybe it was for a series or a trilogy or a standalone tale. But, after going to all that trouble, why waste it on just one set of characters or situation? Why not milk it for further stories?

Sure, these could be spin-offs. I’ve done my share of spin-offs. Recently, though, I discovered yet another avenue to travel down. The PREQUEL.

I’m not alone in this. George R. R. Martin seems to have abandoned the final two planned books in his Song of Ice and Fire set (the one HBO calls GAME OF THRONES and went on to finish on their own), but he abandoned them to dip into Westeros’ past by writing prequel stories.

In the movie world, the word “prequel” first gained attention when George Lucas went from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, a storyline that predated RAIDERS. But he also picked STAR WARS up and headed back to tell a trilogy story of how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Another prequel.

On TV, the BBC show ENDEAVOR is a prequel to the INSPECTOR MORRIS shows (and books by Colin Dexter). THE BIG BANG THEORY headed for prequel heaven by spawning YOUNG SHELDON, backtracking to Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s childhood as a prodigy. And these are probably only the top of the prequel iceberg.

Louis L’Amour backtracked to write stories of earlier Sackett family members, and those stories predate ALL of the prequel instances already noted. They just weren’t called prequels when L’Amour played with the concept.
But what constitutes a good story “grab” from the backstory of a character? The prequel needs to be grounded in what is known – and not known – about a specific character.

That’s what we’ll sort out in 4 weeks. Some prequel ideas may “star” a younger version of a character already fleshed out. They may have been a main character. They may have been a secondary character. What they have though is the strength to carry a prequel toward the story you’ve already told while standing on their own.

Prequels can be marketing warehouses. So, step into my parlor and let’s see what has been hiding in clear sight that you can use to fuel your writing pipeline. What’s available just may surprise you!
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