Using Backstory to Enhance the Story

Delving into a character’s past can be a complicated, tricky endeavor. Spreading details throughout the story keeps it interesting and keeps the reader reading.


A method to tell the past of my characters which worked well for me is using the backstory.


I was inspired to use this method by the ABC television series Once Upon A Time. The show is very adept at using the backstory of fairy tale characters to present them in a more realistic and imaginative light.


In Sword of Tilk Book One: Worlds Apart and Book Two: Strange Land I used the backstory told by Jean, grandmother of the twin Queens. The events related in her narratives were relevant to situations currently faced by the characters. Both narratives were a story within the story.


In Book Three: At Sword’s End, I used the memories of evil witch Desdemona to enlighten the reader about the backstory. Desdemona also used “earth memories” which she could conjure at will.


It isn’t a good idea to create detailed backstories in each and every novel, except for the purpose of knowing what your characters have gone through to get them to where they currently are.


In the Sword of Tilk Trilogy, including the backstories was instrumental to the story itself. The Tilk family history was an essential part of the story illustrating how those past events affect current events. It also displayed the characters at a different point in their lives and explained the people they became.


Creating the backstory within the story can add a layer of intrigue to your characters as well as to your plot.


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