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A Writer's Guide to Active Setting by Dianna Love, Mary Buckham

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Chapter 6

Using Setting to Show Backstory

Defining Backstory

What is backstory? The Free Dictionary by Farlex uses this definition: “The experiences of a character or the circumstances of an event that occur before the action or narrative of a literary, cinematic, or dramatic work.”

Simply, backstory is anything that has happened before your current story that impacts what will happen in your story. Let’s say your character likes to eat beets. Yes, that’s a decision made before your story begins, but if it doesn’t impact your story, it isn’t a necessary part of the backstory. Your character losing her mother and father in a fatal car accident and thus avoiding vehicles whenever possible, even when she must save the world—that’s backstory.

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