Exploring Backstory

by Autumn M. Birt

There have been a few posts recently here on the Guild of Dreams discussing how an author can share backstory to a novel. Be in a prologue, weaving in the details, or an info dump (or not!), there are always important bits of a storyline that need to be shared to more the plot forward.

I think there is one more use for backstory that we haven’t covered: reader exploration.

I know when I’ve read a short story or novel that really hooked me, I’ve googled the author and book, spending time perusing what they write, hope to write, and any information about the world they’ve created. That is why an author spends all that time developing a website, for those readers who know that there is instant access to more online.

How this happened is backstory to my latest WIP!

There are famous authors doing this or fans are doing it for the author. Think about how much information is out there on the world of Harry Potter. Books mentioned as part of the curricula of Hogwarts are being written. That is filling in backstory!

With that in mind, though I never envision that level of devoted interest, I’ve begun spinning out some of the backstory to my current dystopian work-in-progress, Friends of my Enemy. You see, for dystopia, the backstory on why the world is in such a bad state is really important. But the problem with backstory is that prior events to the story have backstory. And that loop is where I found myself when I wrote Friends of my Enemy.

Rewrote, actually.

You see the two novels that make up the storyline are based on a novel I wrote (and never published) a few years back. I liked the idea, but it needed work. And it needed some explanation. So to really flesh out the world, I wrote short stories set before the novel begins. I ended up with eleven short stories and references to huge events that happened before the short stories. Hmmm…

Which left what to do with those events? Leave them as references as well, allowing the reader to fill in details? Write more short stories? I decided to blog them.

Some of my on-line backstory uses created news articles, which have been a lot of fun to make!

That the events happened is important to the story, but the details I’m putting into the blog posts are less so. Instead, it has become a fun way for me to share and flesh out the story line. If a reader wants more information, the as yet to be published novels will refer them to the blog and the book’s page with its timeline. Considering I’m writing about cataclysmic events taking place in our near future, I feel strange saying how much fun I’m having researching and writing about such things as the pandemic of 2039 and the drowning of Miami in 2042.

And as I move forward with a new epic fantasy trilogy, Games of Fire, I’m trying to keep an eye out for backstory that would make an interesting blog post. With fantasy, I’m much freer to discuss nuances of the world, such as why the cities of the archipelago have ancient warding stones on its borders, as well as to discuss murky history like the Forgotten Wars!

Blogging backstory has become a fun way for me to explore the world without having to worry about putting too much in the novels. I can world build, discuss nuances with readers, and explore a world I enjoy writing about. Who knows, it might lead to another story.

How do you as a reader feel about discovering more about a story through blog posts and online? If you are an author, do you blog about backstory?

Autumn is the author of the epic fantasy trilogy the Rise of the Fifth Order. She has also been blackmailed by its characters into writing a new epic fantasy series, Games of Fire, set in the same world while trying to chaperone characters from a dystopian novel who run around with swords and guns. No one is playing nicely with each other! Learn more about her and the world of her books, where her mind has permanently relocated, at AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads (supposedly).

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3 comments on “Exploring Backstory

  1. I like the idea of sharing on blogs. As you said, the purpose of a blog is excactly that: shring as much as possible with your readers (or would-be-readers).
    I don’t have a published book yet, but I’ve already started sharing 😉

    • That is great you’re already working on building interest in your story! Wattpad is great for that too, if you haven’t checked it out yet. And good luck with your writing and publishing!

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