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Holding Back Your Backstory

How Much Backstory Is Too Much

Many of our writers tell us they struggle with knowing how much backstory is too much. So when we saw this great post over on DailyWritingTips, we knew we had to share!

Let's dive in...

"Authors call the hidden part of a character’s life their “backstory.” When I was acting in plays, directors might ask me to decide what my character was doing before the scene began. Since my character is supposed to be a real human being, he has a life outside of what appears on the stage or on the page. Every character is like an iceberg – there is more to the character than appears on the surface. If it’s a minor character, the reader may never learn much about what is under the surface. But even if you don’t write about it, it still has to exist. A 25-year-old woman, by definition, has 25 years of life experience. Unless she was raised by wolves, she was raised by people, even if your story never mentions it. Everything she does, she does for a reason, unless she is mentally ill, and even then, as they say, there is reason in her madness."

Read the rest of the article on their blog.

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Hayley Milliman
Content Lead

Hayley is thrilled to be ProWritingAid's Content Lead, as it gives her an excuse to think deeply about words every single day. Prior to joining ProWritingAid, Hayley spent a number of years as an elementary school teacher, which was a crash course in learning how to entertain an indifferent audience. These days, she puts her storytelling skills to use writing blog articles and working on her first novel.

When Hayley isn't hunched over her keyboard, you can find her figure skating at the ice rink, hiking with her dog, or profusely sweating at the Muay Thai gym.

She is the co-author of the book Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females (which was an Amazon bestseller) and How to Build Your Author Platform on a Shoestring.