How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading

How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading

Today, I’m guest posting over on Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog, with the post  “How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading.” Here’s an excerpt: Backstory is a weapon. And just like any weapon, it can end up doing more harm than good to those who wield it without proper experience and care. But in the hands of […]

Is Your Novel's Backstory Big Enough?

Is Your Novel’s Backstory Big Enough?

With all the superhero movies these days, we are seeing a lot of origin stories. And I gotta say: I love that. I love origin stories, not just because they’re a fun glimpse into the beginning stages of a familiar character, but mostly because they’re stories with psychological ramifications. They’re stories about becoming, about making choices. […]

How to Tell if You Should Show Your Character’s Backstory

In other recent posts, we’ve discussed the value of backstory, even to the point of writing your backstory as your story when it’s the more interesting of the two. But generally speaking that’s going to be the exception to the rule. Backstory is actually at its most powerful when we don’t tell it—or rather when we don’t […]

When Your Backstory Becomes Your Story

Backstory is called backstory for the very reason that it belongs in back of the story. It’s not the point of the story; it’s only, in a sense, the explanation for the story. So, naturally, you’re always careful not to let the backstory take over. You’re alert to its sneaky attempts to horn in and […]


Discover the Perfect Place to Insert Backstory

How is an author to know the perfect place to insert backstory? Sooner or later, most authors feel constrained by the technique of opening a story in medias res, when we know readers won’t fully comprehend events unless we’ve first given them an understanding of the important backstory that preceded the opening. But by the […]

Is Backstory Sinking Your Book?

Backstory is often misunderstood, mostly because it has gained something of a bad reputation through misuse. It’s important you neither underestimate this crucial storytelling technique, nor allow it to overwhelm your main story. Backstory, as its name implies, is intended to stay in back of the main story. It’s never the point of the story, […]

Boring! How to Diagnose Your Bad Backstory

Backstory is the history of your character—the part of the story that happens before the story. As writers, it’s often tempting to think readers are every bit as fascinated with our characters backstories as we are. But don’t be fooled. Readers are only interested in what’s going to happen next. If your character’s favorite cat getting […]