Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WoW: A Royal View on Back Story

Today I opened On Writing to page 229...

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn't very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don't get carried away with the rest. Long life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour or so before closing time, and if you are buying.
                                        - page 229, Stephen King's On Writing
Back story can help create 3-demensional characters and help to brighten the colors on the canvas of your literary masterpiece, but it doesn't propel the story forward. Make sure the back story is important and relevant to the primary story.

In my second book, I wrote a large chuck of back story that reveals a major insight into who one of the main characters is and why she acts the way she does. To make the story flow faster, I took this chuck of back story, broke it up into small bite-size pieces, and sprinkled it throughout the book. I think--I hope--it will ultimately be an effective device in keeping readers' interest and pique their curiosity.

Don't forget to visit me at Tossing It Out on Friday for my hijack of a guest post and big Book 2 reveal. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to writing. I'm so close to finishing my WIP!


  1. Weaving backstory throughout a book is the best way to handle it. :D

  2. I'm a bite-size weaver, too. For the most part. Sometimes it takes me a few drafts to catch all the dumps, though.

  3. Great idea breaking the backstory and sprinkling it through out the book, I think you'll find it a very successful devise! Hey, I can't wait for friday! I wouldn't miss it for my life!

  4. That's how I handle backstory - I sprinkle it throughout the book.

  5. Great post Michael will look forward to your being on Tossing It Out on Friday.


  6. I used to get carried away with back story. Now I'm better at weaving it in. I need to get a copy of On Writing.

  7. Kyra, thanks!

    Michael, that's why he's the king.

    Carol, oh, I know the feeling. There will be many drafts.

    Gina, hope you enjoy it. :)

    Alex, great minds think alike!

    Yvonne, Thank you. :)

    Medeia, it's an art to give the needed information but keep the story moving.

  8. King is insightful. Although even in bars the full story is not okay. Just let us drink in peace.

  9. Kink is the king On Writing! Okay, not very punny, but so true!

    I believe I could dive onto any page in On Writing and not come up for air for hours.

    Backstory is best done in tidbits.

  10. I like good back story, but I agree that is better sprinkled throughout the book than delivered in one chunk. This does help increase anticipation too!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  11. not a big fan of big chunks of back story myself--love it when they're woven into the story itself. Good luck on your WIP!

  12. Yeah, learning to weave the relevant backstory is an art unto itself.

    Let me know if you want help promoting book 2. I'm willing to help.

  13. James, I have to agree with you there. But enough drinks and I'm not listening anyway. haha.

    Candilynn, I see you're a fan of the King as well.

    Allison, excellent point. :)

    Nutschell, thank you! :)

    Mary, thanks for the offer. I'll definitely keep that in mind! :)

  14. I definitely think weaving backstory in the way you describe can play a huge role in the plot. Looking forward to the Book 2 reveal.

  15. Backstory/background info is hard! I'm about to dive back into the first hundred pages of my WIP and cut some of the background info I don't need...but it's so hard to know what's necessary and what's not! I never want to leave my readers asking "why" or thinking "this doesn't make sense," but I don't want to bore them either!


Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Dark City kit by StarLight Designs