Back story is important.
We all know that. It’s the building blocks of what made out characters get to the point that they’re in now. Back story is what gives our characters, well… character.
The problem with back story is that if you get too involved with it, it can block your narrative and ruin the flow of your story. And that is never a good idea.
So what do you do?
For me, I have a huge back story and history written out for Blaze Tuesday. I have a bunch of great little side stories and side quests. It’s the main reason why the majority of my free flash fiction stories on Fridays revolve around Blaze. I have all sorts of little random facts about Blaze and his friends. Blaze is nearly 50 years old. That’s a lot of back story to explore.
I didn’t put all of it in my first book.
I intended to make Blaze Tuesday’s adventures a series of novels.
I put out only the important bits of information, and I only expanded on them as much as they were relevant to the story happening currently in Blaze’s time line.
It’s a very fine line that you need to walk.
So where do you draw the line? How do you figure out what back story is important to your character?
I have a few tips that work for me, so I’m gonna share ’em here.
- Is the event in the back story that you want to write about directly related to, or directly affecting the current story? Yes? Add it. No? Allude to it, but don’t expand endlessly on it.
- Is it absolutely necessary for the reader to know to understand the rest of your story? Yes? Write it and keep it consistently relevant. No? Skip it.
- Is it a shameless word count filler? Yes? Can you skip it and is it necessary to keep? No? See the first two points.
- Can you write it as a supplement or short story later? Of course you can.
So there you have it.
It’s what works for me.
Do you have any tips or ideas for writing back story and keeping it relevant? Share in the comments!