on Fiction University:
Backstory is a necessary evil in many stories, but you can sneak it in so flows naturally with the scene.
A character’s past is important to her character arc, but it’s an area that can easily turn into messy backstory or infodump if we’re not careful. We drop in information because it has to go somewhere, and getting it out of the way quickly lets us get to the story faster.
Odds are this “drop in” of information is going to make the past feel stuck in, and feel more like backstory than a natural part of the narrative. It can stop the story, kill the pacing, and read like the author held up her hand and said, “Wait, hang on a sec, let me tell you this one thing before we go on.”
When done poorly, backstory brings readers to a screeching halt and we risk losing them. When done well, the information slides by without ever drawing attention to itself.