Write Backstory With Confidence Course

In Guest Articles, RWA Academy by RWA Blog Coordinator1 Comment

How to weave in the past without information dump telling.

The art of integrating backstory seamlessly into a ficton narrative is vital to show casing how your character formed their world views, beliefs and desires.

Understanding the purpose of backstory

A character’s past isn’t just about providing context to who they were as a child, it’s about breathing life into who they are now. It’s the key to unlocking their motivations, fears and desires.

Effective backstory humanises our characters in order to make them more believable and relatable to our readers. It provides the all-important why to every action they take in the story. This, in turn, engages readers with what those characters are doing.

The #1 backstory challenge – information dumps

By far the biggest challenge authors face when adding backstory to their manuscripts, is making sure it’s not an information dump. An info dump occurs when:

  • There is too much backstory in one place.
  • The information is continually delivered through dry telling.
  • It’s not pertinent to what’s currently going on in the story.

Sandy will help you figure out how to place a trigger in the narrative so readers naturally want the backstory information, as well as how to deliver small pieces in interesting ways. She likes to think of backstory like a potent spice that is modestly sprinkled through the narrative.

The art of purposeful placement

Too often authors suddenly remember that they need to reveal all the awesome backstory they developed for their character and throw bits of it, like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.

When it comes to deciding where to place backstory, consider using it to:

  • Build suspense.
  • Add a sense of mystery.

Just like you would with clues, you can use backstory to build a gradual picture of what happened in the past that is driving a character now. Drop hints without revealing everything at once so readers are on the edge of their seats, dying to find out more.

Use the past to drive conflict

A character’s unresolved past traumas, hidden secrets and skewed world view is the perfect amunition to use against them. Major events from their past are at the heart of what they believe and what is driving them through the story. Use their internal conflicts to fuel conflict with other characters and within themselves, making them doubt their decision and react in unusal or unexpected ways.

Write backstory with confidence today

Being able to use the backstory to drive everything that happens in a story is a valuable skill that will add valuable layers to the plot by ensuring it’s purposeful and advances the plot and relationships. Learn how in the Write Backstory With Confidence course.

During this course we’ll explore three key concepts to keep your backstory purposeful and engaging:

  1. Quantity
  2. Relevance
  3. Placement

And one backstory superpower that is going to bring your backstory to life on the page. Woo hoo!



Sandy Vaile is a traditionally published author, writing romantic-suspense for Simon & Schuster US, with more than a decade of experience in the industry, who empowers authors to write novels they are proud to share with the world (and which get noticed by agents, publishers and readers), through coaching, courses and developmental editing.

Sandy is also a motorbike-riding daredevil who isn’t content with a story unless there’s a courageous heroine and a dead body. Living in the McLaren Vale wine region means lots of prosseco and cheese platters in her down time.

Connect with Sandy Vaile on her website or social media.


  1. I’m really looking forward to delving into everyone’s stories and utilising all the fabulous backstory you have developed, in a way that doesn’t slow the pace or make readers yawn.

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