How do I come up with an idea for a backstory?

Hey my first post, how exciting! ^^ 

So, I'm looking for help in a specific subject but I would in general would love to hear what you all think. I know I'm not the only who's had problems with coming up with ideas for backstories for characters, especially when websites in reality tell you what you should (or could) include in your stories/and or backstories and not how. What do you think helps you with finding ideas or help for ideas that could really start up the backstory making process? 

Now to specifics, I take both my fandom and original stories, and characters, very seriously when it comes to creating them. I hype fixate a lot and so being able to make a story in the setting of the world is usually not too hard. I have been having problems with two characters though. First, making well rounded characters can be hard, and having an idea for backstory for them. The characters I'm writing are based on a wed series called Sander Sides, it hasn't gotten too deep into backstory but it does give hints to what might be happening behind the scenes. I have no ideas and to be honest, even with me knowing that there could be something going on behind the scenes in the plot, and I'd like to see if anyone on here might know enough that they could maybe help. Please be nice, I'm pretty fragile language wise, and if you have any help then please tell me your advice! I'd love to talk to you even more if you know the series I'm talking about and would be comfortable with it. :) 


Hello! and wow, I didn't think I'd actually get any answers! 

To answer about why I care about backstory in this question. I agree that backstory is not always needed, to be honest I'm not exactly looking for a big overarching idea. This isn't for something like a novel. I don't write a lot and I'm autistic with a lot of hype fixations. I felt like maybe doing fan fiction would help.  

Update 2:

The problem with that is usually trying to insert your own characters into an already existing world naturally. So I thought getting an idea for a small bit of backstory could make them feel like they could exist in this world. They already have flaws, strengths, etc to make them interesting as characters, it just seems I've been having some trouble with a bit of background that could affect their character relations and why they are who they are now.  

Update 3:

I can see that going on and trying to act this randomly was kind of silly, but thank you for your wise words. I appreciate it! I'm very much a person who loves making ideas for stories and want to put them down, I think it's just my high anxiety makes it hard to sometimes. Besides that, have a great day and thank you all again! 

5 Answers

  • Amber
    Lv 6
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    All that stuff is just BS. Honestly. Unless it is relevant to the story you're telling it is literally just time wasting. In fact most planning to tiny detail is time wasting because not much of it ends up in the finished product. Get the first draft written then get it right and if a backstory suddenly becomes essential to the story you can create is as you go along or afterwards and tailor make it to fit. Too many amateur authors say 'I'm writing a fantasy' when all it really is, is a massive life history of a character that no one actually needs. They leave out all the important stuff and focus on this (often teenagers) horribly abusive father, the pedo uncle, the drunk or absent mother and the MC's obsession with her crush. Not interesting material. Not one for sob stories. 

    Good characters are mute in the hands of a poor or rookie writer. It takes time but eventually you'll develop enough skill and instinct to need very little planning - to be honest most novels need very little, unless you're going to a world record like 15 books in one series that requires some planning but even then it's note taking that's vital. If you know you're own characters and give them what they need to feel fleshed out they'll come alive on the page. 

  • 2 months ago

    I am not familiar to that series. But, choose a character, read, watch all that is there about this character. Then, based on what you know, figure the character's past: where he comes from, his trials and successes, etc. Start with rough drafts and build from there.

  • 2 months ago

    That is so easy it's called having an imagination seems you lack one .

  • Marli
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    "An idea for a backstory".  Hmm.  Do you mean, 'ideas for characters'? 

    I wouldn't say that a backstory is balderdash, but you don't need a detailed biography of each character. Just a few facts and a little background for your own reference notes. Such as: Australian. 17 years old. Sandy hair. Fit physique. Favorite ancestor was [note to self: what were robber gangs called in Australia?]     I don't  need to know what he eats, but his admiration of his outlaw ancestor will affect how he sees himself and his world, how he thinks and how he acts. He is on the verge of adulthood (with all that involves) and he will use Australian words when he speaks. He is able to handle heavy lifting and punching. And I don't want his hair to change colour at the exciting moment, or re-read several chapters to find out if I made him left- or right- handed.

    As Amber typed in her answer, you can add to your notes any significant traits that comes out in your first drafts of your story.

    Besides, what if the backstory is more interesting than what is happening in the novel?

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  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    You don't need any of that nonsense. Amateurs who spend hours outlining that useless bunk are doing nothing but wasting time. Unless it's directly relevant to the story you're trying to tell, readers don't need to know all of that. You don't need to sketch out all of those superfluous and meaningless details. While you might think devoting time and effort to such trivial things shows that you're meticulous and thorough, what it really shows is that you'd rather fiddle with the bits and bobs than get down to business. 

    I call this "playing office." It's a bit like when someone takes their child to their workplace and the sprog starts pretending to make phone calls or starts typing or shuffling papers. Nothing is actually getting done, but the person is presenting the illusion of looking busy. 

    Real writers don't fill in a template to give a character a random set of arbitrary attributes or agonise over all sorts of purposeless facts. Do you think readers will care what your character's middle name happens to be? Does the reader really need to know what street the character lived on when s/he was 8? How would knowing what the character's next door neighbour in 1997 was called have any bearing on your story? 

    There are heaps of websites that provide information about backstories and character sheets because you can teach someone how to compile all sorts of irrelevant twaddle, but you can't teach someone how to write a story. That comes from reading lots of well-written books and from trying one's hand at writing over a long period of time. If your main focus is making backstories, have at it. Hopefully you'll find it enjoyable. But it won't bring you one one-thousandth of an inch closer to having a completed story with your name on it. 

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