Writing Lesson 3.16 – Backstory–The Story Behind the Story

In a well-developed story there’s so much more than meets the eye.

As an analogy, look at some of the things we found recently when we opened the walls and floors of our house!

These clues gave us interesting background into the lives of people we never met. We know what they ate for breakfast, what brand of coffee they enjoyed, even (judging from the era of the products) the dates they lived here.

As you develop characters for your story, be sure to take a peek behind the surface. Don’t settle for an angry antagonist. Find out WHY she’s mad at the world. Is your hero truly fearless, or does he have a secret weakness? Why does he struggle with this one thing?

Some authors interview their characters in their imaginations. Their background stories may remain hidden, merely adding a realistic dimension to their lives on the pages. Or, like the fragments we discovered in our walls, their secrets may come to light at some surprising moment as the story unfolds.


Grab a writing instrument and a sheet of paper and “interview” your characters. Get to know them as you would get to know a new neighbor. Begin with obvious surface characteristics and work your way toward an intimate understanding.

About Melinda Evaul

Melinda Evaul is a North Carolina native transplanted to Tennessee. Her contemporary Christian romances give readers a unique view of rural life in both states. Not afraid to tackle tough questions, she writes about people who grow spiritually through the difficulties life tosses in their paths.
Read more about Melinda.

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