Creating a character backstory that’s real and fit for a story🧐


1. The backstory is not your story. Don’t live in the past. 

A lot of the time writers seem to get lost in the character backstory. It has the word ‘back’ for a reason. It supports your story, don’t use it to fill up your book. Don’t live in the past. 

2. Utilize the backstory to character development

Perhaps your character has a fear of clowns. If you put your character in a carnival with plenty of clowns where they lose their friends they have two things to overcome. Finding their friends and their fear. How will they react? How will they overcome it? 

These types of things shape your character throughout your book. Targeting the phycology of your character and making them more produced over time is a great way to show development. Backstories can show readers the strength of a character’s attachment to people, places or ideas and thus make it more painful when the character faces the loss of any of those things. 

3: Make sure your main story arc is the most interesting. Don’t make it obvious 

YOUR BACKSTORY ISN’T YOUR STORY. Yes, you can make a backstory interesting, and you should do so, but not more interesting than your story. If that’s the case then you should be writing a different story. 

And please, don’t make your backstory too obvious. Other than the obvious foreshadowing if I introduced a character with a fear of water because she almost drowned you expect something to happen with drowning later. Maybe if the character’s sister almost died from drowning it’s less obvious. 

4: Create character backstory without the clumsy info dump

Avoid using unnecessary info and a block of info to introduce your backstory. Whether this is done by flashback, dream sequence or dialogue in which one character describes an incident to another, be sure to keep the dramatization as grounded and concrete as the rest of your story so that it is compelling for the reader. 

Have a natural trigger in the story for it to come up. Don’t just clumsily have a character start talking about her dead father. A strong sensory impression like a smell or a song might bring back the recollection or maybe a phrase.

1. Pace how you give away your background story.

If you give it away to fast you lose all the mystery. Keep the reader wanting more and overall it improves. 

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