Happy Friday the 13th! Don’t let your superstitions get the better of you today, because it’s time to talk about your character’s backstory.
First of all, what is backstory?
Basically, it’s everything that happened in your character’s past. That means EVERYTHING. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright fugly. The stuff they’ve lived through, the circumstances they’ve dealt with, friends and family they’ve been involved with – basically, their lives up until now.
Why is backstory important? Because you want to create a realistic character, and real people – and really interesting characters – have lives beyond a single story. What we see of them in a novel, or even a series of novels, is just a small fragment. But they’ve got hopes and dreams and a past that influences them, just like you do.
Backstory helps develop the character, because it gives you more ideas about how they’ve reacted to other types of situations in the past. For instance, if they had a bad childhood, how did they deal with that? Perhaps they grew up determined not to repeat their parents’ mistakes – or perhaps they’ve inadvertently (or even purposefully) followed their parents’ paths exactly, doomed to repeat a history they don’t fully understand.
Backstory can also be sprinkled into the current story, to give us a glimpse into your character’s past. Just remember not to info dump, or give us too much backstory at once! As with seasoning your food with salt, too much backstory all at once can be just as overpowering.
So, start writing about your character’s past, and see what you come up with! Remember that you don’t need to work all of the backstory into your novel, but the more you know about your characters, the better. Nothing in the backstory writing exercise is ever really wasted. And who knows? Maybe one day you’ll even want to write a prequel, putting even more of your character’s backstory to work!
Want to prep with me?
Fill in the same info for one of YOUR main characters, post it on your blog, and be sure to use the hashtag #Preptober on social media so we can find each other.
Don’t forget to grab a free copy of my Preptober Prompts Printable, which you can print out for personal use.
See you tomorrow with a new prompt!