Back story, or BS, for those of you who don't know, is your character's history, how they came to be the way they are. And this blog entry is going to be somewhat short, because it's pretty simple.
What to put in, what to take out? Even though your character's BS may be an awesome story all in itself, if it doesn't move the main plot forward, take it out. This has been hard because there's a few scenes of Rowen, my mind writer :), explaining how he came to be the way he is to Soleil, the protagonist, and I've had to take them both out because, cool as they are (and they're also my husband's favorite parts), they had nothing to do with the main plot. So when the agents I pitched to raised their eyebrows when I told them how long my book was, and when they said I needed to cut about 20,000 words, I knew right where to start.
Don't start your story with BS. (lol). Your reader needs to develop a relationship with your characters first. They have to care about your character first, or they sure as pizza bombs won't care about your character's back story. Nancy Kress says that adding BS after your first chapter is a good way to start, but to hook your reader into your character's plight first.
Also, don't take a long chunk of space explaining something all at once. It's better, as Eric Witchey from Willamette Writers Conference said, to insert your back story as the story moves along, not all at once, but in pieces so you're not really telling your readers a character's bs, but the reader peices it together as they go along with the main plot. You don't want it to take over and stop the flow of your story, or you'll lose interest. As I did when Stephenie Meyer had those long chunks of her character's bs, especially the whole indian history stories they tell Bella at that thing she goes with Jacob to. Boh-ring! Skip!
Don't get me wrong, I really like the Twilight series. It's just that the more I'm learning about writing, the more I pay attention to things like that!
Anywho, that's all the BS I've got. Ha ha, okay bad joke. I was going to post one of my BS outtakes, but I thought better of it, since my stuff isn't technically copyrighted. Sorry.