Fiction-writing: Using backstory to enhance character and plot.


Is there something in the past of your character that will dictate his actions?

Before writing your novel, write or develop a detailed backstory. It’s one of the keys to making your fiction come alive. It will increase the believability of your story because it will enhance your characters and their relationship to the plot.

What is a backstory? Simply, it is the story of what has happened to your characters before the time period of your novel and how all those past events of their lives have affected them. Without a backstory, it will seem that your characters parachute into the current moment of your story as if that’s the first day of their lives.

The backstory for each character in your novel will fill in the details and will make your plot much richer. A good way to write the backstory for a character is to write a tell-all biography about him/her and include how that tell-all story will lead up to the first day of the plot of your story.

You’ll want to write a backstory for each of your major characters and maybe all of your minor characters too. Concentrate not only on what has happened to them in the past but how they reacted and handled or mishandled the events of their lives back then. For example, does the character always withdraw from confrontation or does he/she charge through life with an attitude? Why? You, as the writer, should know the answer to those questions so you can develop your characters fully and their actions within the plot will make sense.

As a writer, you want readers to discover the depth of your characters from events in the book. By knowing the backstory, you’ll be able to weave just enough of their history into the story so your readers will come to understand their motives and anticipate their actions and reactions.

Don’t look on devising the backstory for your characters as a chore. You needn’t waste your best writing on this task. In fact, it’s okay to devise your backstory in list form. Basically, you want to have a detailed backstory solidly in your mind in order to know your characters inside and outside when you write. When you know the details of each character’s backstory, they will begin to take on a life of their own as you write.

In life, we all react in any given situation based on our history and how our past reactions worked for us. Your characters will do the same. They will react based on the backstory (or in spite of the backstory if the character is trying to overcome the way he/she has operated in the

About loubelcher

I'm a freelance artist and writer. I enjoy anything whimsical and my art and writing generally concentrate on the lighter side of life.
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2 Responses to Fiction-writing: Using backstory to enhance character and plot.

  1. Pingback: Character Development | before you write: lou belcher

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