Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bogged Down With Backstory

      I have always had a hard time when a book spends the first 3-5 chapters telling us everything about the protagonists past before the story actually gets going. Does that mean backstory isn't important? Definitely not! Backstory informs the actions of the characters in the narrative. It is why one character reacts to an event one way and another has a different reaction altogether. The writer needs to know the backstory of his characters.

     Learning the backstory of your characters can happen several ways.   Some writers spend hours creating the past life of the characters, sometimes writing pages of backstory. Will the writer use it? Maybe. Other writers discover their characters backstory as it becomes relevant in the story they are creating. The important thing is to understand when and how to use it.

   Prologue, memories, flashbacks and bits and pieces can all convey backstory. Remember the reader only needs enough information to become engaged in your characters. 

Don't forget to visit the other Bloggers Busily Busting out their 200 word posts... HERE


  1. I can't stand books with too much backstory. I really don't care about much of their past, unless it tells us something important about the event that is happening right this moment in the story. Less is more, IMO.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday! =)

  2. I try to limit myself to no more than one or two sentences of backstory at a time. It helps keep me from getting bogged down in it, and then we can get back to the current story, too. It helps keep to India's idea of less-is-more.

    Thanks for the reminder :)

    East for Green Eyes

  3. I lose interest quickly if there's too much backstory. I'm with RosieC, one or two sentences sprinkled here and there is fine and might be one of the best ways to do it.

  4. Hi, Pam,
    200 words -- oops, I guess I didn't get that memo. Probably wouldn't have followed it anyway. The Queen tends to be wordy.

    Thanks for visiting my blog Queen of English's Blog. Yes, you are officially entered into my drawing.

  5. LOL, backstory is good in snippets, if needed, and it usually isn't.

  6. Back story definitely needs to be done but when it is overwhelming it destroys the story. If you need 3 chapters of back story just write a prequel (:


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