Backstories

Writing backstories for characters is fun.  You can create everything from where they were born, to the way they look, to how they speak and how they dress, all the way down to that tiny scar they have on their left little finger because of the dog that bit them when they were three.  Not all of these details make it past a scribbled note or an early draft, but writing your characters' histories is a great way to give them more depth. 

Take the MC from Space!Story. At her most basic level, she's just an awkward kid on a spaceship.  With her backstory, I know where she's come from, what happened in the world she inhabits and why certain events within her family led them to board a spaceship and head out into the great unknown.  Knowing all of that, despite none of it occurring within the book itself, gives me a sense of why the MC is the way she is.

Here's a clue to her backstory:


Hahahahaaaaaaa of course it's bad...

Creating detailed backstories are a great way to get to know your characters, their motivations and their world, even if the stuff you write doesn't make it into the finished product. For Space!Story's MC, her backstory links in with some of the world-building, so it's there to stay.

How about you? How much backstory exists in your manuscript?

Comments

  1. I love this! Getting the right balance of backstory in a novel can be so tricky, and I counter-intuitively, as you point out here, creating a very detailed backstory in a separate document can do wonders for achieving that balance.

    I notice that if I spend 2 or 10 or even 20 pages writing up a detailed backstory I am not nearly so tempted to do a "backstory infodump" in the actual manuscript, because it feels like I've already done it! Instead the details work themselves in a bit more naturally. And as a bonus if a CP asks for elaboration on a point of the character's history, I have the perfect document to turn to!

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    Replies
    1. That's such a great way to do it. Sometimes I write random scenes in notebooks and, like you say, if I need to, I can summarise the main points in the book itself.

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