Backstories

A while back I wrote about how backstories are our friends, despite the fact that some readers have major issues with them. Sometimes this dislike is understandable since there are books where too much backstory is included or at least not introduced properly. Because the trouble of backstory is that you can’t throw it out there like an old gaming console to show that you used to play a very long list of games when they came out. Too much can easily turn away a reader even mid-novel.

What you need to do with backstories is give it in bits and pieces. Little details matter. Most importantly, give out backstory when it is actually important to the plot, the character’s development, or both. If it doesn’t contribute to at least one of these then it probably better left unmentioned.

Speaking of mentioning, with backstories the best way to introduce them is through conversation, but don’t make it long unless you need to. That way if it is a long story telling moment use a flashback, as pages and pages of dialogue is not helpful. Once you do go with a backstory keep it consistent in the rest of your story, unless your character was previously lying about it (which only the writer will know until revealed to the reader) it should be the same backstory in the end as it was in the beginning.

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