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Using character backstory correctly

By Lisa Williamson | Category :: Writing Article

As writers we all have different ways of telling our stories. Lately there has been a lot of discussion about using back stories in fiction. There is a growing group who are determined that they are unnecessary and sloppy writing. Like the debate about show versus tell this is inaccurate. It is just a stylistic difference of opinion.

As a writer of mostly fantasy fiction, I find that adding in a bit of back story helps move the story. Writing a tale purely as filled with action, racing from one scene to another is both tiring and boring. Periods of introspection help the reader understand why a character has reacted the way they have.

In this day and age of action movies and massive Michael Bay explosions, many have forgotten that a little back story, used creatively, can give the reader and the writer a moment to catch their breath. While our world is barreling along at a hundred miles a minute, wouldn't it be good to give your readers a chance to sit back and breath?

For example in my novel, The Traveler, I have a lot of action packed into a shorter novel but I took moments to have the characters sit back and listen to the elder character speak of his own personal history with the villain. This gave depth to a character that could have come off as an all knowing and annoying old man and let the reader understand more of the culture that I was developing.

Yes back story can be over done but then so can any element used in story telling. We should make sure to balance all the elements of our work so that we give a rich and fulfilling read to those who pick up our tale. No matter the length of your work, you need to learn to balance the introspection, action, character development and pacing of your story. If you focus just on one of these things, you are only writing part of the tale and could become one of the thousands of easily forgotten pieces of writing that come out each day. With balance you will hopefully touch your readers and make them remember your tale years after they read it.

By Lisa Williamson | Jul 29, 2014 | Category > Article >Writing | Comments 1 | Views 3638

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Dusti Rodes
"I am in agreement with you here, Lisa, on this line of thinking, and try to use it in my writing efforts on as many occasions as I can."

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