A book’s backstory…or a writer’s backstory?

venice
Backstory from Venice?

My blog is about backstories – my backstory, the backstory of my writing, and sometimes even the backstory of what I’m reading.  It’s about writing, since, after all, regardless of whatever else I am, I am a writer.

I’ll begin with my definitions and then we’ll move to the story – from the beginning.

What, precisely, is a backstory?

back·sto·ry

noun /ˈbakˌstôrē/
backstories, plural

  • A history or background created for a fictional character in a motion picture or television program
  • Similar background information about a real person or thing that promotes fuller understanding of it
    • – the little-known backstory about the theory of evolution

If we look at the first part of this definition, we might reasonably conclude that there is no backstory for fictional characters in books.  From this, we can further conclude that every aspect of a character’s life has to somehow be translated onto the page for the reader.  Nonsense.   Writers have lots of backstory material for their characters – and locations and plots – that inform their writing but that never make it in an overt way onto the page.  But it’s there – behind all of the words; between the lines.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that it is “a story that tells what led up to the main story or plot…”  That’s part of what it is – but it’s more.  The backstory is also what makes the writer tick.

My definition: A backstory is a prequel that is never fully revealed.

Let’s start at the beginning and maybe we can write backstories together.

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