Past Mastery: How to Reveal Backstory with Roz Morris

Past Mastery: How to reveal backstory so it drives your book forward, with Roz Morris

This class is now over and is unavailable for purchase. Sign up to receive announcements about upcoming classes.

Learn how to reveal backstory so it drives your book forward

All stories need to give readers information. A lot of information! Who the characters are, what world they live in, how they know each other, what formative experiences they’ve had, how their world operates, how to catch a thief or train an owl.

But where do you put these explanations? If you put them in the wrong place, you’ll interrupt the action, losing the reader’s attention. If you don’t give the reader enough, they won’t understand why they should be interested in the story events. Either way, they stop reading. Agents and editors report that mishandling of back story is one of the commonest problems they see in authors’ manuscripts.

In this 75-minute online class (which is recorded if you can’t attend live), Roz Morris will show you:

  • The many forms of back story
  • The vital piece of back story that writers often leave out!
  • Biggest pitfalls when deploying back story
  • How much back story you need at the start
  • How to handle context, world building and exposition
  • The good and bad of prologues
  • Other stylish ways to give necessary information
  • The untapped potential you’ve missed in your back story – and how to use it to enrich the whole book
  • A writer who broke the rules … beautifully!
  • One classic principle for handling back story with panache
  • Steps and exercises to increase your awareness and help you take control of back story
  • Plenty of examples from masters of back story

Who should take this class

Writers of any work that has a story arc (fiction and memoir, genre and non-genre) who want to sharpen and hone their use of back story.

How do I know if this webinar is worth the cost?

This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend the entire class, and fail to get the information you were looking for. Please email us directly to request a refund.

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording. However, if you’d like to attend live, keep reading.

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, July 28, 2021
  • Time: 1 p.m.–2:15 p.m. Eastern Time / 10 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s built-in closed caption service, powered by Otter AI, which is about 80%+ accurate. For students joining the class through the Zoom app on a mobile device, you can disable the closed captions by going to your settings and turning off closed captions.

About the instructor

Roz Morris is an author, book doctor, writing coach and ghost-writer. She has extensive experience at both ends of the editor’s pen. As an editor, she has coached and developed writers of all levels, some of whom have won major awards.

She teaches a masterclass for The Guardian newspaper based on her series Nail Your Novel, is a regular on the Litopia Pop-Up Submissions show where she critiques manuscripts alongside literary agent Peter Cox, and is a prolific blogger on writing craft, writing productivity and the publishing world.

She also writes fiction and memoir, and was longlisted for the World Fantasy Award.

Our students love Roz’s courses, her teaching methodology and her energy. Attendees are always challenged by the content and inspired by her delivery. 

Matt Buttell and Emma Cummins

The Guardian Masterclasses

Roz’s breadth of knowledge and astute coaching style left me feeling empowered and informed. I regularly recommend her to writers, regardless of how long they’ve been in the game.

Libby O’Loghlin

Co-founder and Editor, The Woolf Literary Quarterly

One hour with Roz has transformed a lifetime of ineffective writing habits.

Mark Keith


You’ll receive the following

  • Access to the 75-minute interactive class. After 60 minutes, Roz will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.

System requirements to join the webinar

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 or higher running Win 8.1 or later
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.