Novel Writing Tips - Presenting Background Info

(For more novel-writing tips, don't forget to sign up for our free email group.)

How do you introduce background information into your story without being awkward? Here are some tips to help.

TIP #1 - You don't have to provide all the information up front.

Often beginning writers feel the need to introduce every new character with a little bio...

Or they start a story by laying out the history of everything that's about to take place.

This can be boring and slow down your fiction. But readers don't need to know everything right away.

Just sure that you provide enough information that they can follow the action, and then you can provide background information later.

You can weave it in gradually, a little at a time...

Or you can wait until a moment when you want to slow your story down or create a pause, and fill in some background information then.

In general, you want the beginning of your story to be as engaging as possible in order to capture your reader's interest. Background information is normally NOT the most engaging part of a story, so the beginning is often not the best place to include a lot of it.

TIP #2 - Your reader doesn't have to know everything.

You might have imagined a detailed biography for your characters...

You might have mapped out a complex fictional world. Or researched the history of your story's setting.

Include details that fit naturally into your story, adding interest and authenticity. But don't cram in information that doesn't belong there.

It's fine to leave stuff out.

In fact, if you give readers the sense that there's more to the story's world than what they see on the page, that can add dimension to your story.

Let them suspect that the story they see is just the tip of the iceberg, but there are untold depths underneath...

TIP #3 (Use with caution!) - You can sometimes provide background information via dialogue.

For example, instead of explaining to the reader the origen of your villain's evil plan, you can show him boasting about it to his cronies.

Or instead of explaining the history of your main character's town, you could let your character explain it to an out-of-town relative.

This strategy allows you to make background information part of your story's scenes instead of taking time away from the action.

But use with caution: it's easy for this strategy to feel artificial. Never force words into characters' mouths -- only give them lines that they would naturally say.

More Novel Writing Tips

Join our email group to get novel writing tips and advice sent to your inbox. Also:
<< BACK from Novel Writing Tips to Creative Writing Now Home