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Back Story

 

Disciplines > StorytellingStory Devices > Back Story

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

What is often called the 'back story' is, to use a fuller name, a background story. It is a description of the lives of the people in the story outside of that told in the main tale.

It may include detail of their history and what brought them to the position where they enter the story. It may also give more contextual information about where they live, what they do, and other useful detail.

The back story can also include any other information that helps answer the question 'why?' about the main story. It gives reason to why things are as they are and why things happen as they do.

Yet the reader, listener or view of the story never knows this detail.

Example

The back story to an alternative version of Little Red Riding Hood might tell of the story of a spoilt child, a tiresome grandmother, a wimpy wolf and a psychotic woodcutter...

Discussion

Authors write back stories to help them stitch together a story that makes sense. Without the back story, the main tale may turn into a number of disconnected episodes and have logical errors, for example where a good character does something bad for no reason.

Back stories are also used in dramatic presentations to help the actors, director and other staff get a deeper sense of the characters and their environment and hence produce a more coherent, vital performance.

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