Saturday, 19 April 2014

Day Nineteen: How to Successfully Weave Backstory into your Plot #BYBin30

In fiction writing, every story should begin somewhere in the middle of the action. You need to hook your readers right way. But what does this mean when it comes to letting your readers know why the action is happening and who the story is about? It means you will have to weave the elements of your protagonist's back story, and possibly your antagonist's backstory too, into other parts of the story.

Backstory is the story you have built up around your character which informs his or her motivations and actions. It ties in past events and your character's past histories that have helped shape current events and your character's personality. Backstory is what helps your readers care about your character. It explains why the story begins with the events in the first chapter.

There are several methods you can use to weave backstory into your novel's main storyline.

1. Flashbacks - Your scene or your characters thoughts can bring the reader into a flashback of previous events, but this flash back needs to fit within the story and not just be thrown in randomly.

2. Your character's inner thoughts  - Your character can be thinking about something in the past. These thoughts should be triggered by something in the present and should remain brief.

3. Leaving hintsLittle things about your character can sometimes lead your readers to the knowledge of your character's backstory. Comments made, unusual fears or rituals, a piece of jewelry that they always wear and any emotion that would otherwise seem out of place can be used to lead your readers toward the true backstory in small increments.

4. Dialogue with another character - Don't let them blurt out the backstory in a bunch of exposition. Let them mention it in passing, or confront one another based on it, or even just hint at knowledge of it within their dialogue.

5. Changing from the past to the future, not as flashbacks but as separate chapter changes - This is done less often, but this works when the backstory isn't something that your character has experienced in his or her past but about events that have set the things in motion with which your character is now having to deal.


Don't reveal to much, too soon or too much all at one time. Too much exposition can be boring. It slows down the story. It's the reason that a story works so much better when it begins in the middle of the action, which keeps the story more fast-paced.

Do your readers really need to know this? Your readers do not need to know everything that you do. Don't give too much detail. If all you're doing is filling in some backstory, your readers don't need to know every little detail about what happened, but only the things that are relevant to your characters actions and motivations in the present.

1 comment:

  1. I am worried about what to say. Do I reveal more on my blog or less on my blog. In the actual story I don't want to give away plot lines with a large flashing neon sign but I do want to pepper the trail with clues and red herrings. A little foreshadowing here and there is a good thing.


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