Tips to write riveting back stories for your characters
One of the hardest things about writing is to weave a coherent backstory for your characters. The backstory isn’t just supposed to be about the character’s past. It’s a series of events which explains why your character has grown up to be the kind of person they are. The backstory always serves a purpose in character building and hence, it is vital that your backstory has been thoroughly designed to fit your protagonist’s development arc.
While this idea seems hard, there are a few ways which can make writing a backstory a piece of cake.
- Chart out a timeline for the characters and defining events.
One thing that most authors struggle with is the timeline of their events. If your story keeps alternating between the past and the present, it is best to jot down all the events in a chronological order. This will help you go back to events and prevent confusion in your narrative.
Another benefit of charting out a timeline is that it will help you understand the cause and effect relationship between multiple events. This interconnection ensures that all events in your story serve a purpose.
- Ensure that the backstory stays relevant to the present.
Backstories aren’t supposed to exist for the sake of existing. Instead, they are supposed to play a role in how the present shapes up. For example, your character’s upbringing in a toxic atmosphere can help explain why the character often experiences depressive spells and trust issues.
An interesting backstory can help give your present narrative more depth and meaning. It can raise the stakes and help flesh out compelling characters.
- Reveal key drives and motivations through past events
Every character has desires. Their desires can be as simple as wanting a cup of coffee. But, these desires, in essence, are what drives your protagonist into eventful situations. They propel them to commit certain actions. There is a difference in key drives when your character wants something and when your character needs something. Understanding the nature of their desires can give your character a more meaningful purpose.
However, more than that, it is important to understand the deep-seated reasons for the desires. Often, the answer to this question is hidden in your character’s past. Exploring this past and laying it down for your readers explains the urgency to fulfil this key drive for your character.
- Stay away from information overload.
Do not info-dump. You can either break up your character’s backstory into bits or pieces, or you can reveal it through flashbacks. However, avoid writing one big block of text revealing the entire past of your character. This kind of information overload can turn away readers.
Instead, try to keep your readers guessing and slowly reveal their backstory with each passing event.
Now that you know how to write a backstory that enchants your reader, what are you waiting for? Pick up that pen and get going!