Importance of Back Story


A book doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, some books might be years in the making. Long before a writer sits down with fingers to keypad, ideas have begun to swirl around in her mind. Some take root and flourish, and those are the ones that won’t take no for an answer. “Share us with your friends and family and anyone else who cares to listen (read).” And what can a writer do but say yes, especially if the idea is compelling enough?

One summer I chose Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen for one of my beach reads. The story of spousal abuse and one woman’s courage to start a new life in a totally new environment, Quindlen’s novel forced me to look at many of the sad and lost looking young women in my classes in a new light. What was the real cause of that black eye or the goose egg on someone’s forehead? And why was a particular person wearing so many clothes in the sweltering days of a Southern summer? Was she covering bruises?

A couple of years later I read Tom Butler-Bowden’s 50 Self Help Classics, brief summaries of 50 inspirational books by authors ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Abraham Maslow and dozens of others in-between. While I wasn’t surprised to see Susan Jeffers, Scott Peck, and Stephen Covey listed among the influential self-help tomes, I was a bit puzzled when I first saw the Bible. Within two paragraphs, however, Butler-Bowdon convinced me that the ideas contained within its pages teach what humans need to know about being courageous, having a healthy self-esteem, making progress, starting afresh, and sharing love.

Then one day, my sister-in-law Karen told me about a Bible study being taught at her church. It was about Queen Esther, she said, and while initially, I felt a little lukewarm about it, I thought, “Why not?” I didn’t have any obligations on those evenings, and I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, especially when there are no tests involved. We used materials developed by writer and speaker Beth Moore, and because of this gifted woman, my knowledge of Queen Esther was greatly expanded over the next several weeks. As a friend of mine said, “Esther’s the bomb!” And she is.

It was then that I decided to start a blog entitled Eve’s Sisters, a series of posts about women in the Bible whose lives or deeds demonstrated one or another psychological principle. Some were jealous, some were despairing, and some were heartbroken. Others were courageous, loving, or hopeful. My eyes were open to all of these remarkable stories! To me, Dr. Susan Jeffers’ book entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway could have been what Esther was thinking when she said, “If I perish, I perish,” as she bravely squared her shoulders and went before the king.

It’s a skip and a hop from writing a blog to writing a book. Well, it’s a series of skips and hops and jumping over hurdles while trying to stay on the path. Nevertheless, once the light came on and I could see the clear connection between psychology and religion, those stories of Esther, Leah, and Naomi were ones I had to retell in ways that demonstrate parallels between the lives of women in the Bible and those of women who live today. On the drawing board for at least a year, Eve’s Sisters became a reality this past April.

What’s your story? Could it become part of your back story, a motivation for writing a book or article?

Motivation for this post came from a captivating post by Susan Froetschel about the importance of writing a back story that sheds light on the motivation for writing a book. Posted in, the article encourages writers to be prepared to answer, “How did you get the idea for this book?”

About jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer
This entry was posted in Biblical women, books, psychology, stories, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Importance of Back Story

  1. Shari Stauch says:

    Well done, you! Very good post and love knowing this info!


  2. Totally agree that some books take years, and these are among the most thoughtful. The best draw on a lifetime of experiences. So glad the blog inspired you to give your back story!


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