A to Z Challenge · Camp Nanowrimo

Character Development: B is for Backstory

Character Development, A-to-Z Blogging Challenge

B is for Backstory

This part of character development may or may not make it into your story. It’s helpful to know a general idea of where your character’s coming from in order to understand where they’re going.

Why it Matters:

Backstories are good places to tuck away twists and turns that can be used as reveals later on in the book or series. Surprise! Your archenemy was once (and probably still is) in love with your husband / father / uncle / cousin. You get the idea.

Example Character: Blade

Blade, in his prime, was a telekinetic who specialized in metallurgy and the art of swordfighting. Though never actually physically in the arena, Blade was a force to be reckoned with against other telekinetics.

What the media didn’t tell the rest of the world was that Blade was on multiple medications to try to control the voices he heard in his head. Although he was one of the top 5 telekinetics in the city, when he grew old enough to unclass from his power, he fell off the grid and was never seen again.

Some people speculate that he killed himself in some lonely back alley, driven to insanity, but the exact opposite is true. Now that Blade is free of medicines and arena battles, he is able to listen to the voices he hears, voices that tell him the most extraordinary tales…

What are some good ways to integrate backstories into your writing?

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19 thoughts on “Character Development: B is for Backstory

      1. I will be reviewing Maze Runner later in the month (T is for Thomas and Teresa). Lack of backstory is a huge reason I had a hard time relating to the characters. (Your mileage may vary.) More is revealed later, but I’m not sure you ever really get the FULL truth, unless it’s in the prequel story.

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    1. I saw the movie but didn’t get to read the book. I had too many questions left unanswered precisely because of the lack of backstory, but the way the movie ended it felt like the next movie is going to be completely about the backstory.

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  1. Love your post! Backstory–even if it isn’t fully included in the story–is so helpful for understanding a character’s motivations. Of course, it’s the balancing act between just enough and the dreaded infodump!

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  2. This is a great theme for the challenge 🙂 Back story is pivotal to character development. Any characters I’ve written about I always want to know their respective histories. I like to share some of that with readers too but it’s about finding the right balance, something I don’t always get right.

    Wishing you all the best for the remainder of the challenge 🙂

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  3. This gave me a lot to think about. I agree backstory is important. My challenge is knowing what to include and what was just to help me as the writer. I also enjoy when writers give additional backstory on their website that doesn’t make the book.

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  4. I love figuring out a character’s back story. I write one out for each of my main characters, even if only some of it will show up. I learn a lot about my characters this way before even writing a word of the actual story.

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