The background of a story is an essential element in storytelling that provides the reader or audience with the necessary context to understand the characters, setting, and events that unfold. It typically includes information about the story’s world, history, culture, and social or political environment.
Importance of Background
- Context: A well-developed background offers the necessary context for the events taking place in the story. This helps the reader connect with the characters and understand their motivations and decisions.
- Believability: A well-crafted background adds depth and believability to the story. When readers can envision a world that feels real and immersive, they are more likely to engage with the story and suspend disbelief.
- Character Development: Background information helps to develop characters by providing insight into their upbringing, past experiences, and relationships with others in the story.
Elements of Background
- Setting: The setting refers to the time and place in which a story takes place. For example, the setting of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is the fictional world of Middle-earth during a time of war and upheaval.
- History: A story’s history encompasses past events that have shaped the current world and the characters within it. For instance, in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the Targaryen dynasty’s history and the fall of the Mad King significantly impact the story’s events and characters.
- Culture and Society: This element includes the customs, beliefs, and social structures of the world in which the story takes place. In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the totalitarian regime of Gilead and its oppressive social structure play a crucial role in the story’s development.
- Politics: The political landscape of a story can influence character decisions and the overall plot. In 1984 by George Orwell, the political system of Oceania, a totalitarian regime led by Big Brother, shapes the story’s atmosphere of oppression and fear.
- Technology and Magic: In some stories, especially science fiction and fantasy, technology or magic systems can be significant aspects of the background. Examples include the futuristic technology in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series or the intricate magic system in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy.
Creating an Effective Background
To create an effective background for a story, consider the following tips:
- Relevance: Ensure that the background information is relevant to the story and serves a purpose in the narrative.
- Show, Don’t Tell: Instead of providing long expositions, reveal background information through dialogue, action, and character interactions.
- Consistency: Ensure that the background elements are consistent throughout the story to maintain credibility and reader engagement.
- Balance: Strike a balance between providing enough background information to create an immersive world without overwhelming the reader or detracting from the main plot.
Remember, the background of a story is a crucial element in creating an engaging, immersive, and believable narrative. By developing a rich and consistent background, you can provide context, enhance character development, and create a world that captivates your readers.