Why Backstory Should Be The Scar Tissue Of Your Book

Why Backstory Should Be The Scar Tissue Of Your Book


Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, we discuss why backstory should be seen as the scar tissue of your book.

Backstory is necessary. We all come from somewhere. Things have happened to us along the way.

However, people would run screaming from us if we unburdened everything to them after our first meeting.

If we find people interesting, we will ask them questions about how they arrived in our lives.

Why Backstory Should Be The Scar Tissue Of Your Book

Writers should do the same when writing a book and introducing their characters. They need to make us interested in them before they tell us everything about their past lives.

Backstory is the scar tissue…

A character‘s backstory is the scar tissue of our books. When others get close enough to see the scar, they will want to find out how we got it. They will want to find out what our history is.

So, before you tell us about your character’s past:

  1. Begin your novel when everything changes, when there is conflict, and change. This is usually called the inciting moment.
  2. Make us care about the character. Make sure the inciting moment is strong enough to make us empathise with him or her.
  3. Make us care about the story goal. Create a sense of conflict, suspense, and excitement that make us want to read more.

You can weave backstory into your novel through: dialogue, interior thoughts, outside media, summaries, and brief flashbacks.

[Read: Is Your Backstory A Threat To Your Book?]

A good way for you to get your characters’ backstories down is by completing a good character biography for each of your important characters. Filling in this questionnaire helps you get it out of your system without adding it as an unnecessary extra in your novel. You can also refer to this biography for inspiration if you get stuck.

TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

 by Amanda Patterson

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