It’s Just a Bunch of Backstory

Character Creation Series

Everyone has a backstory. You have one, I have one, and our characters are supposed to have them. It is what makes a character who they are and is an important part of your writing, even if it is never seen. With characters you kind of have to make it up as you go, but their backstory can be the seed that helps create your plot ideas. Without it there may not be much of a real story.

Why is a it so important?

A backstory doesn’t explain who or what a character is. That is explained through your character profile as a whole. A backstory is somewhat a story within the story. It is an explination of how your character became who they are at the beginning of the story. This character broods because they have dealt with a recent loss. That character is ambitious because when they were younger they weren’t able to have what they needed. Ultimately, the backstory is the how in your character profile, without it the who and the what in the character profile can appear very two-dimensional.

How much should I write?

When it comes to writing a backstory for the character profile it’s hard to find out how much is needed. It can depend on the work you are doing with them and how important that character can be. Having a backstory that is five pages long and includes an entire lifetime, may not be best for a minor character that is only seen once or twice in the piece. Also having a backstory that is a couple sentences long may not be enough for your main character in a novel.

What should I include?

Essentially a backstory is a mini-biography of a character, so include a lot of the important points of their life. Even though they mourned their goldfish at 5 years old, it probably has nothing to do with the story. Like I said before, it is the how they became who they are that’s important. The path that led them to the beginning of the story, and how it’s changed them. A loss, a success, anything that has an effect upon a person.

For example, the main character in my novel lost her dad in a hunting accident before the story begins. This has an effect on her and is one of the triggers for the plot of the novel and creates a tension between her and another character. So, it is an important fact to include in her backstory.

Will it even mean anything to my story?

The simple answer is yes. Though you aren’t going to include the entire backstory, it is going to be mentioned, alluded to, and even just hinted at by how your character acts and reacts to situations.

Don’t Forget to Check Out the Other Posts for Character Creation:

Making Character Profiles in Fiction

Character Interviews

Choosing Character Names

She’s Got the Look – Character Appearances

Character Opinions

Character Motivation

Character Relationships

Character Speech Patterns

Creating Flaws

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2 thoughts on “It’s Just a Bunch of Backstory

  1. This is exactly what I needed! I am in the middle of writing a backstory for the main character in a short story. I had similar questions in mind! What awesome timing:)!! Thank you so much

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