top of page

Backstory - Do's and Don'ts

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

No matter how experienced we are as writers, it never hurts to go over basic techniques, like how to write backstory, dialogue, description, etc. Here are a few guidelines to remind us how to write backstory without taking us out of the story.

Perhaps Stephen King says it best in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft:

“The most important things to remember about backstory are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don’t get carried away with the rest. Life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour or so before closing time, and if you are buying.”

Here are some tips to weave backstory into your story.

  1. Show how backstory affects your character in the present. What events shaped your character physically and emotionally. That is, make it relevant. How does this backstory give context to your character’s current situation.

  2. Use backstory to shed light on your character’s development. Use it to show what drives your character emotionally and psychologically.

  3. Make sure your main story arc stays in focus.

  4. Avoid info dumps and give the backstory an appropriate trigger. You can tell or show backstory using other means like dialogue and scenes. Balance telling and showing.

  5. Strip unnecessary backstory from your narrative.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page