Tag Archive - Backstory

The Two-Edged Sword of Backstory in Dialog

This week editor Christy Distler tackles Fatal Flaw #4—Too Much Backstory. In this month’s posts, we’ve been looking at the pitfalls of dumping backstory into our scenes and showing ways writers might creatively introduce important information pertaining to a character’s past or necessary to understand the world of the story.

In fiction, backstory is often given a bad name. Writers are barraged with all sorts of advice: Don’t start the story with backstory. Don’t info-dump your readers with backstory. Add backstory only sporadically through the story. The list could go on and on.

But the bottom line is, backstory is important. More than important, really—it’s essential to the story. Backstory builds realistic, multilayered characters. Without backstory, characters are difficult to connect with, for both the reader and the writer. The reader will be bored by their one-dimensionalness, and the writer will struggle to pen natural, apposite actions and reactions to the happenings in their characters’ lives.

And this is where some writers get confused. Backstory is integral . . . but its use is discouraged? Continue Reading…

How the Rule of Three Can Help Writers Avoid Backstory Slumps

This week editor Linda Clare tackles Fatal Flaw #4—Too Much Backstory. In this month’s posts, we’re looking at the pitfalls of dumping backstory into our scenes and showing ways writers might creatively introduce important information pertaining to a character’s past or necessary to understand the world of the story. 

When you use backstory in fiction to deepen characterization or add information about the story, it’s easy for readers to become confused. If readers enter a flashback or backstory and wonder when or where they are supposed to be, confusion often turns to frustration and they stop reading. That’s why it’s so important to craft backstory in an effective way.

Backstory is any narrative passage or scene which occurred in time before the “present-time story.” Your POV character is in a scene when her “mind reels back.” How can readers keep a firm understanding of when and where, in time and space, the story takes them? Continue Reading…

Weaving It In: Backstory in Fiction

This week editor Rachel Starr Thomson tackles Fatal Flaw #4—Too Much Backstory. In this month’s posts, we’re looking at the pitfalls of dumping backstory into our scenes and showing ways writers might creatively introduce important information pertaining to a character’s past or necessary to understand the world of the story. Backstory dumping is one of the most common and egregious flaws of fiction writing, so be sure to pay close attention to all this month’s posts!

Backstory creates an interesting problem for writers. It’s an absolute necessity in good fiction—a good thing. Just as you and I have a backstory of our own, so do our characters, and it’s often from that backstory that key plot points—or the whole plot—arise. Backstory lends richness and depth to our stories and the people who populate them.

Given all that, why do I say backstory creates a problem?

Continue Reading…

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