How to Create a Character Backstory

Want to create an interesting and compelling character backstory? This article provides eight ways for doing just that!
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We all know that backstory is important. It's what helps us understand a character's motivations and drives. But how do you go about writing a compelling character backstory? It's not as easy as it might seem! In this article, we will discuss how to use backstories and eight ways to create an interesting backstory for your character. So, let's get started!

How to Use a Backstory

Why are character backstories so important? In short, it helps to make your character three-dimensional. A well-developed backstory fleshes out a character and makes them feel real to readers. Knowing some of their past events helps readers to understand why your character is the way they are.

Additionally, a good backstory can provide motivation for your character's actions and dialogue. It can also be used to foreshadow future events in the story.

Use backstory to shape character development

Think about your own life experiences and how they've shaped who you are today. This is what you want to do with your character's backstory. Use your character's past to shape their development. What kind of family did they come from? How did that affect them? What were some major life events that changed them?

Show how backstory affects your character's present situation

Your character's backstory should also have a direct impact on their present situation. For example, if your character is dealing with trust issues, you could write about a time when they were betrayed in the past. This will help readers understand why your character is struggling and make them more sympathetic to their plight.

Choose key life events

When deciding what to include in your character's backstory, it's important to choose key life events that will help shape who they are–their defining moments. You don't need to include every single thing that's ever happened to them, just the highlights. Try to focus on formative years, such as your character's childhood and adolescence, as well as any major life-changing events.

Make sure your backstory makes sense

One of the most important things to remember when writing a backstory is to make sure it makes sense. Everything in your character's history should tie back to who they are in the present and how it's relevant to the main story. Otherwise, it will feel like you're just making stuff up for the sake of having an interesting story.

8 Ways to Craft a Compelling Backstory

Now that we've gone over the basics of using backstories, let's take a look at eight ways to craft compelling character backstories.

1. A tragic past

One way to write a compelling backstory for your character is to give them a tragic event in their past. This could be the death of a loved one, being orphaned at a young age, or something else that has left them scarred emotionally. This event should shape who they are as a person and drive their actions in the present day.

2. Secret organization or career

Another way to create an interesting backstory for your character is to make them part of a secret society or organization. This could be anything from a group of vigilante superheroes to a band of thieves. Whatever it is, it should add an element of intrigue and danger to your character's life.

3. Newcomer from another world

Another way to write a compelling backstory for your character is to make them a newcomer from another world. This could be an alien who has crash-landed on Earth or a human who has been transported to a fantasy realm. This back story will immediately make your character stand out from the rest and give them an interesting perspective on the events unfolding around them.

4. Ex-minion of the villain

Another option for your character's backstory is to have them be an ex-minion on the villain's team. This back story can provide a lot of interesting plot hooks and give your character a chance to redeem themselves. It also provides a built-in reason for why they would be opposing the villain in the first place.

5. Ex-royalty

You could always give your character a backstory of being ex-royalty. This back story can provide a lot of drama and conflict, as your character will have to grapple with their new station in life. It also gives them a chance to show off their leadership skills and prove that they are more than just a pretty face.

6. War veteran

Another option for your character's backstory is that they are a war veteran. This back story can provide a lot of depth and complexity to your character. They will have to deal with the horrors of war or the guilt of taking another human life. This back story can also add a sense of realism to your character and make them more relatable to your readers.

7. Fallen from grace

A back story of falling from grace is always interesting. This back story can be used for a character who was once a good person but has since turned to a life of crime or misdeeds. It can also be used for a character who was once powerful and respected but has since been reduced to a shadow of their former self. Either way, this back story provides a lot of potential for drama and conflict.

8. Family's past

You can also use your character's family's past to create a compelling back story. This back story can be anything from your character's parents being superheroes to them being villains. It can also be something as simple as your character having a famous ancestor or coming from a long line of royalty. Whatever it is, make sure it ties into who your character is in the present and how it shapes their actions.


As you can see, there are a lot of options for writing a compelling backstory for your character. The key is to make sure it makes sense and ties back to who they are in the present day. With a little thought and planning, you can create a back story that will add depth and intrigue to your character.

StoryFlint's Ultimate Character Builder Notion template

The Ultimate Character Builder is a Notion template that you can easily create a well-rounded character that is believable and interesting. Stop struggling with developing your characters on your own. The Ultimate Character Builder will give you everything you need to create amazing characters that are realistic and inspiring.

What you'll be able to do with the Ultimate Character Builder:

  • Bring characters to life in a way that feels real and authentic to your audience.
  • Organize the things that make all your characters unique.
  • Uncover hidden aspects of your character you never thought of before.

What's included in this template:

  • A comprehensive 9-step Character Building Guide.
  • A new Character Profile template.
  • A robust Character Questionnaire containing 175 character development questions.
  • 7 new powerful databases containing hundreds of character attributes to choose from.

Know everything about your characters with the Ultimate Character Builder!

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Kevin Barrett Profile picture
Kevin from StoryFlint

Hello friends! I'm Kevin, the creator of StoryFlint.

I love the science of storytelling and learning how to create compelling characters, plots, themes and worlds.

I'm here to help you organize and visualize your story to make it the best it can be!

More about me

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