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20130510-194028.jpgWhere did you come from? (And I’m not talking about the stork, birds and bees, or scientific explanation.) Rather, what’s your background?

Where were you born? In what country and in what decade? Hospital or home birth? Big city or small town? Raised by two parents, a single mom, grandparents, foster care, or adopted? Blue collar or white collar? Church attender or non-churched? Only child or one of many? And these questions haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of personal experiences, education, sports, hurts, friendships, jobs, cultural influence, and current events.

All of these factors impact a person’s beliefs about themselves and their world. Background affects who we are and how we react to situations. Two people facing the same challenge will automatically react differently because of how their backgrounds have shaped them.

For example, I’m a first-born pastor’s kid with two younger brothers. What does that tell you? I learned to read before I started kindergarten. Any new ideas about me? So, would I be more likely to grow up to be a writer or an engineer? Would I be the organizer or the life of the party? Why? You made logical assumptions based on (and motivated by) my personal background.

My characters also have a background, even if I’m the only one who knows it all. And that background is part of what makes them believable. That background is also the root of the lie they must overcome. With a realistic background, characters come to life in a story readers can relate to and grow from.

What about you? How has your background influenced your choices? Have you followed the predictable path or forged a new road? What type of characters do you like to read about?

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