Back Story

by RS on May 3, 2010

I write a lot of back story, and some critters–the naysayers–inform me that agents and editors don’t like back story. If that’s the case, why is it that I come across novels that have a lot of flashbacks? (and let’s not mention prologues and epilogues).

The back story to Julius has its purpose. First, it delves into the narrator’s psyche. You can’t understand her actions, beliefs, doubts, dreams without the story behind the story. Secondly, as I’ve written before, I believe that you need to know history before you fully understand what’s happening in the present. And a lot of Julius is based on history.

I tend to intersperse flashbacks within the primary action and what I’ve discovered is that sometimes it works and other times it can get clunky. The question then is to ditch it or not? I discussed this before with Ritz (my accountability partner) and she likes the back story, but she suggested that maybe I can make some of these past events into separate chapters. I thought about this for a whole five seconds and loved the idea. The reason I’m so enchanted by it is that my prologues are back story, and they’re strong. So why not include these memories as separate chapters?  The last chapter I revised I included a line that foreshadows an upcoming scene, but it also introduces something that happened in Corinne’s past.

It’s time now to write a back story chapter and see how it all works out!

3 comments
Emily
Emily

I love backstory and flashbacks!
They can add a lot to a story. But sometimes when I'm writing too many flashbacks, it makes me wonder if I should begin the story earlier in time or else write another story about an earlier time in the character's life. I get so into my characters sometimes I just can't decide how much backstory the reader needs to know.

Amanda Borenstadt
Amanda Borenstadt

I love backstory and flashbacks!
They can add a lot to a story. But sometimes when I'm writing too many flashbacks, it makes me wonder if I should begin the story earlier in time or else write another story about an earlier time in the character's life. I get so into my characters sometimes I just can't decide how much backstory the reader needs to know.

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