Lanetta J. Sprott

Sharing your character’s backstory

Posted on: July 29, 2009

In my quest to learn and perfect the art of writing, I searched out and discovered what others thought how best to effectively add backstory. The following offered exceptional insight.

In Jessica Morrell’s book, Between the Lines, Chapter 1 begins an examination of the four essentials of writing backstory:

  1. raising the stakes
  2. revealing motivations
  3. expressing innermost fears
  4. revealing obstacles

In Tamy Tang’s article “Tips for How to Present Backstory: Make a Character’s Past History Compelling” she discusses the why and how to:

  1. Dole out backstory in bits and pieces
  2. Make the information vital for a character to have
  3. Make a character fight to acquire the information
  4. Keep the reader wanting more

Ginny Wiehardt’s article “How to Avoid Too Much Back Story” she cautions the writer to use only the absolutely necessary backstory information.

In “Tips for Writing Fiction: Backstory” Charlotte Rains Dixon makes several interesting points. Two are: “…use it only when the reader needs to know something” and “…writing backstory requires a delicate balance.”

On Darcy Pattison’s website Fiction Notes, there are several informative articles on backstory. One, the Backstory’s Emotional Weight, answers the question: Where do you put backstory?

I learned several years ago, the cardinal rule of writing: Everything within the story, must move the story forward. That also must apply to backstory.

I’ll keep these articles handy for review when a backstory enters my story, stage left.


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Native Texan living in the Hill Country writing and experiencing life one day at a time.

Novels by Lanetta J. Sprott:

Where Forever Begins Finding Closure

Where Forever Begins, A Simple Love Story and Finding Closure are available online at Lulu and Amazon.


Read a preview of both novels here.


New goal (to finish book): 95,000

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