How Much Backstory is Too Much?

Too much backstory can bring a story’s pace to a standstill, bogging it down in insignificant details of a character’s past, world-building elements, or history of the current conflict. It supplies information outside the scope of the story the reader does not need to know and often leaves little to the imagination. It steals all secrets and surprises, leaving the reader to drown in boredom because they already know everything ahead of time. But that doesn’t mean all backstory is bad.

How Do We Know When to Show vs Tell?

A well-told story is a combination of showing and telling. As readers, we want to experience the story through the main character’s eyes, but we don’t want to get bogged down in details we don’t care about. After all, it’s much easier to skim through to find the more interesting bits. But we also don’t want to be told why something is happening. We want to see it happen. Showing and telling both have their place in a story. So, how do we know which to use?

What Motivates Your Characters to Take Action?

Whether we know it or not, the events and people around us can affect us in ways we don’t even realize, sometimes motivating actions we normally wouldn’t dream of taking. We act out in anger in the blink of an eye before we even comprehend what made us angry in the first place. We shut down in shock when we’re subjected to trauma too great for us to handle. We don’t always choose to act the way we do, but there is always a reason, even if it’s buried deep in our subconscious. The same is as true for our characters as it is for us, affecting everything in our story from plot to conflict to stakes.