Okay, so sometimes I know the history of my characters. Sometimes I don't. That makes for some awkwardness at critique group when I get asked questions I can't answer.
That's been happening a lot lately, so I sat down this week and actually took notes. (Pick your jaw up -- it's been known to happen!) I discovered that it's the backstory that provides a lot of the little details that make the stories I like so memorable. It's what happened before the story starts that intrigues me, that I want to know more about, that I want to see the main character overcome in the story.
This might not be revelatory to you, but it was to me. I mean, I've known about backstory and sprinkling it here and there and that your main character needs to have a past they draw from to make future decisions. I've known it, but I'm not sure I've ever internalized it.
So as I've been working on this revision, I've really been trying to nail down the details of the past for my main character. I want them to be a whole person who has conflicts and brings baggage from their history into the pages I'm working on. I want to add those memorable details to create the kind of book I like to read.
So I'm thinking more and more about backstory and taking notes on my main character and using that history to round out the divots in my plot and character arc.
What are you working to improve in your writing right now?