Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.
Hey baby, what’s your backstory?
It’s that I married you, honey.
It should be a pick-up line at a bar, yet it somehow is not a pick-up line at any bar that I know of except maybe in a New Yorker cartoon or a bar in a town where there’s one of those MFA programs in writing literature for literary people doing literary things.
Anyway, it’s a term writers throw around all the time and it is basically just how we imagine our characters’ lives went before they are in the actual story that we’re writing.
But basically it’s the formative experiences that make your character who they are today in the story of your novel or poem or essay or short story.
I know! How can you imagine that your character had a life before your story? It’s like imagining your spouse had a life before you that wasn’t totally centered around you. Us narcissists have a hard time with that.
Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important.…Steven Moffat, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
According to a post on https://www.nownovel.com/blog/talking-character-backstory/
There are three uses of backstory.
Here’s a nice link about it for those of you who read this on Carrie’s blog.
Standout asks how much backstory does a story need and answers its own question pretty simply:
If judged solely on complexity, the answer to ‘how much backstory should I include?’ would be ‘enough to pay for the reader’s efforts,’ however you also need to consider immersion.Standout (source above)
Do not let your characters be rugs.
Ground those suckers with nails and staples if you have to. ModPodge them to the floor, give them a life before you.
The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.Stephen King
Find the balance in your backstory and your life. Backstory is important, but it shouldn’t take over the current story
Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts...