The job of the backstory is to reveal important information about the main character and her world. It’s the history of your character, telling the reader how she became who she is and why she acts and thinks the way she does. Everybody has a history, but sometimes too much of it in a story can stall it. However a novel with not enough back story can be thin and may be confusing, think of it as an explanation without all the little details. Backstory is my biggest struggle and I am certain that I am not the only new writer this is an issue for. Lets face it, it’s the newbies worst enemy and best teacher all in one. So how much backstory is too much, how and when do you start to insert it? This is the question that plagues us because we are constantly reminded when writing that too much is just that… too much! We new writers concentrate so much on the not that we forget about the story we initially started writing and in turn the process become so technical that you forget about the creative part of it. When inserting backstory in to your work think about what you want to accomplish in the scene. My struggle with backstory is that I often wonder if there should be a particular order in which it’s inserted, will it come in the form of flashbacks or do I write in a way so it is the story. Doing the last I will risk info dumping in an overwhelming amount, trust me I know because I have done it and been told so.
Does it have to be in a particular order? If the story starts with the main conflict, it’s obviously not the beginning, so how do I go back and describe how the character got where she is? Do you struggle with backstory? Where do you begin to insert it?