about backstory

by chris
(ma)

Question: I'm getting mixed advice when it comes to backstory. some people say let people draw their own conclusions and others say make it a solid chapter. What I would like to do is stretch it out over the course of the story, and let it come up at relevant points. but I don't know if that's a good idea or if I should make it a chunk or none all together. Anyone have advice?


Answer: Your idea is the correct one. The general principle is to introduce backstory in small amounts, where relevant, throughout the story so you don't interrupt the action or take too much attention away from the main character.

Of course, every story is different and we can all point to examples of successful stories with prologues, flashbacks, etc. And it can be all right to hint at a backstory without revealing it, if you want to create a sense of mystery and it's not essential to the story. (Perhaps material you're saving for a sequel?)

But I wouldn't suggest you resort to these techniques unless you have a really good reason.

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