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9 Effective Tips for Crafting an Engaging Backstory for Your Characters

Whether you're a novelist, screenwriter, or role-playing game enthusiast, a well-crafted backstory adds depth to your characters, thus strengthening the story. This blog post will explore 09 Tips for Crafting an Engaging Backstory for Your Characters.



01. Establish Clear Goals

When creating your Character's backstory, it is essential to give them clear goals. From there, you can use these goals to determine motives and rationales for their choices; this includes side characters. Your Character's goals are a crucial element of their journey and will assist you in critical decisions surrounding their actions and decisions as the narrative progresses.

Recommended Read | 5 Benefits of Establishing Clear Goals for Your Characters in a Story


02. Incorporate Past Experiences

Say it with me: "Avoid 👏🏾 Writing 👏🏾 Flat 👏🏾 Characters 👏🏾." Your audience is seeking to connect with your characters. Thus they need to have depth. Your characters should be able to reason and make rational (or reckless) decisions relevant to the story. When your audience consumes your writing, they should be able to, at the bare minimum, see where your characters are coming from. 


A character's backstory should include significant past experiences that have shaped their personality and beliefs. Explore how these events have influenced their worldview, relationships, and approach to challenges. For example, Haruhi fears thunder and lightning in Ouran High Host Club. As a result, she hides in a wardrobe. In this scene, we learn more bout Haruhi's upbringing and Tamaki's caring heart. This scene also helps to propel their romantic relationship forward. Arguably, this scene may not have taken place if Haruhi didn't have a fear of storms.


Ouran High School Host Club - Thunder Storms Scene (Eng Dub)


Consider little facts like this for your Character and how to use them as catalysts for events or evolve relationships within your story.


03. Include Conflict

Conflict is a fundamental element of storytelling found in several story structures, including, The Hero's Journey, Save the Cat, and Save the Cat Writes a Novel. Introducing internal and external conflicts within your Character's backstory to create tension amongst the feelings and emotional investment from the audience is essential in cultivating engaging content. You can also use Conflict to develop characters, give insight into their backstories, and create points of interest within the story. Furthermore, Conflict gives your Character something to work towards and your audience something/ someone to root for.


If you feel your story is beginning to stale, consider implementing Conflict to help freshen your work. Also, some competition may make for an easy way to keep the ball rolling. A word to the wise; however, too much Conflict can cause overstimulation, so give your characters an occasional break.


Recommended Read | Benefits of Including Fun and Games after Conflict in a Story


04. Create a Timeline

Creating a physical timeline of your Character's life events can help you be consistent in your writing. It can also assist with any plot holes you may uncover. When you implement a timeline into your story, you ensure a more coherent and well-rounded character whose actions are better suited to your account. Finally, creating a detailed timeline can also assist you in developing your Character's personality and traits, allowing you to write a more engaging story.


05. Create Believable Relationships

In your writing, consider the lasting effects of your Character's engagement and interactions within their world. Meaningful relationships from family to rivals will add a solid level of complexity and depth to your Character. Even if your Character is a lone wolf, their encounters within the story should impact the Character in one way or another.

Finally, consider ways to nurture relationships within the story, returning to the lone wolf reference. However, your Character operating well doesn't mean they cannot build lasting relationships: think Drizzt Do'Urden and Geralt of Rivia.


06. Feed Information Slowly

Put skeletons in your Character's closet and clean them out slowly. Unveiling the hidden aspects of your Character's past encourages to reader to become invested in your Character's life. It also allows for more coherent writing as your Character evolves throughout the story. To build further interest, do not give everything away; leave room for your audience to use their imagination, and spoon-feed them relevant bits of information while saving the meaty portion for later. A great way to think about this advice is to treat this information as a series of curtains unveiling as the story progresses.


07. Predetermine Character Strengths and Weaknesses

Understanding your Character's strengths and weaknesses while cultivating their backstory is best practice. In doing so, you create relatable characters with room to grow.


08. Show, Don't Tell

Some of the best writing advice out there, implementing descriptive narration into your work can effortlessly upgrade your writing. For example, It is one thing to tell me your Character had a hard childhood growing up, so they have trust issues. It is a whole other ballpark when you place your Character in a scenario where they fail/struggle to perform and, in its wake, reveal the cause of this Character's shortcoming being the residual effects from tragic events years prior.


09. Consider the Culture and Environment of Your Story's World

The cultural background and environment in which your Character grew up can significantly shape their values, beliefs, and perspectives. Please consider these external influences when developing their backstory.


Even within the construct of a homogeneous society are free radicals who diverge from the status queue. Remember this as you write about how your characters interact with their world. No two lives are the same; people process and feel things differently, and that realization of concept will help make for a great story.


Bonus | Stay on Topic

While a character's backstory can be extensive, it should directly relate to the main narrative to maintain coherence and relevance. Focus on elements that contribute to the central plot or character development.


Lastly, remember to edit and refine your Character's backstory. Trim unnecessary details, streamline the narrative, and ensure it aligns with your story's overall tone and theme. Be sure your account is coherent. Your creative flow may generate many scenes for your creation; remember, cutting things out is okay. Save the extra/ unpublished work for other projects, such as an email list, video content, or even extras for a side story. Super fans enjoy bonus content; remember to think long-term!



When crafting a character's backstory, consider it an art form; consider how you form and manipulate the various aspects of your Character's life. Following these 09 tips, you can create compelling backstories that engage your readers. Remember to balance revealing enough information to satisfy your audience's curiosity while leaving room for growth and mystery. With a well-crafted backstory, your characters will come to life, resonating with your audience and enriching your storytelling endeavors.

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