Behold, the info dump.

The backstory by definition: events that happened prior to the start of the plot, essentially the history, the characters past. You know...once upon a time in a land far, far away...

Newbies tend to want to start with a ton of backstory about their protagonist thinking that a big info dump is necessary for the reader in order to understand everything. But what is important to understand is that readers are smart. And they don't need all that info in order to get the jist of things. And besides, one of the most important rules of writing is SHOW don't TELL. Telling doesn't hook a reader like showing does.

The backstory does have its place, but it should be fed to the reader bits at a time. What's great about doing it this way and only giving away a little information at a time is that it makes the reader curious and leaves them wanting more. And that is EXACTLY what you want!

For some terrific information about the right way to go about it, I have included some helpful links below:

How to Write the Backstory

How to Include Backstory

Writing the Backstory

Novel Writing: The Backstory

For more articles visit my blog at:


Happy Writing!


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Comment by Cheryl Bradshaw on April 7, 2011 at 2:01am
Agreed, Benjamin - thank you!
Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on April 7, 2011 at 1:53am
Always start with the present, then work in the past. That way the reader is interested in knowing the back story.
Comment by Cheryl Bradshaw on April 6, 2011 at 6:25am
I still use it myself, but I don't feel that it all needs to be dumped at the same time.  You can give bits and pieces and even a page if needed here and there, and it reads a lot better than pages of backstory which many readers gloss over these days.  I just hate to see any good writing skipped! :)
Comment by B.R.Stateham on April 6, 2011 at 6:23am
Mmmm . . . yes and no.  Some forms of stories--fantasy and sci/fi series, for instance . . . MAY need backstories.  It all depends how you craft the backstory.  Sometimes just feeding bits and pieces of a backstory out like pinches of bread crumbs thrown out on a trail doesn't cut it.

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