2015 A to Z Challenge: B is for BACKDROP and BACK STORY

A-ZChallenge2015In any novel there will be some back story. Most characters haven’t just been born. They had a life before the novel began. And even one who has just been born has parents with back stories that will impact on the newborn. Some of that previous life will be relevant to the current story and needs to be told. It is also important to set the scene, whether indoors or out, to give readers a feeling for the setting (or settings) of the novel in place and time.

Even more so for a historical novel. Most readers will be unaware of the norms, limitations and customs that shaped everyday life in the specific time period. They won’t know what places looked like before the advent of cars, fridges and electricity wires.

Somewhere in India
Somewhere in India

It is the job of the writer to tell them what life was like in those days.


Readers don’t want information dumped on them. The backdrop doesn’t have to be described at once and the back story, however interesting, doesn’t move the current story along. Whatever can be shown during the story shouldn’t be told upfront. This is true of all fiction; in historical fiction there are more unknowns, making the avoidance of infomation dumping more difficult.

P.S. I’m looking forward to reading your comments. It might take me three days to reply, but reply I will.