The Back-Story Ratio

More thoughts to ponder.


Every book needs to tell its readers a little about the character’s history. Even small details like what sort of school they went to, where they worked their first job, or which traits they dislike about themselves can give a huge amount of motivation and purpose to their actions. My teachers always told me “If you don’t know the name of your protagonist’s driving instructor, you don’t know enough”. But where do we draw the line? When does a compelling back-story become useless filler that your reader would much rather skim past. It’s a delicate balance.

Image by Donna BarberImage by Donna Barber

Character and Plot

Any back-story you include should help to develop your characters or plot in a meaningful way. Ask yourself if that piece of information will be relevant later on, or if it helps to build the attributes which define your character. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider cutting…

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