Tag Archives | backstory

In defense of backstory.

Okay, back again, to defend the poor and the misjudged. 

And up on the stand is backstory. Lovely backstory.

How many of you sent off your writing for the first time to a critique partner and got it back with chunks of paragraphs highlighted with the comment – backstory/info dump. And then you learned better? **raises hand** I have.

But backstory is so crucial to an intriguing heartfelt story, even if only a fraction of it makes it into your story. 

What is backstory?

To me, it’s all that background information. Memories. Family history. Events that happened last week or last year. Secrets. Traumatic childhoods.

Backstory is important because…

  • It helps you know your character so he/she can respond and make decisions that make sense.
  • It deepens your character so you create three dimensional characters.
  • It creates intrigue by dropping in hints here and there.
  • Small memories – that are relevant to the story – make a character feel real to the reader.
  • Small memories – that are relevant to the story – show the bond between characters or between a character and a place.
  • Small memories – that are relevant to the story – create empathy in the reader.

If you took out all the backstory from your story, or you didn’t take the time to create backstory, most likely, your story will lack intrigue and your characters will be flat.

Finding the delicate balance of the what, when, where, why, and the how of backstory is all a part of the writing journey. And it varies from genre to genre. I’m still learning.

So, backstory is your friend, right? What did I miss? Any tips to writing backstory?

Click here for an excellent post about the nuts and bolts of writing backstory.

And Thursday, I’ll be defending description. And on Friday I’ll post my version of Writing Compelling Characters for The Great Blogging Experiment. And last time I checked there were over 100 bloggers participating! Can’t wait.

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