Write the Novel: The Dreaded Back Story

Don’t make an info dump though.

Sharon Wildwind

Back story is what happened in the characters’ lives before the book begins.

Romance writer Jo Beverly says, “Back story is for the author, not the reader. We want to show how much we planned, how hard we worked at research, now clever we are. In fact, the reader can get by with only skeleton hints. Back story is different from context. We must set the context, which tells the reader why the current action is significant to the character. We should be able to do this in one or two sentences.”

When I read a work in progress that drips back story, and ask the author why it’s all in there, the inevitable answer is, “The reader needs to know this in order to hook into the story.”

Think again. Human beings get by nicely on a paucity of information. Imagine we’re meeting for coffee. You arrive and say…

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