Backstory, and what to do with it
I feel like I’ve been on this kick lately about character development. It’s important — there are no two-ways about it. One-dimensional characters are boring. Characters who tell the reader everything and have no secrets are not intriguing. So, how do we share our characters’ motivations without writing something the length of War and Peace? (Not that a long story is bad, just make sure every word is meaningful.)
Stories that start too soon can drag out a character’s history (backstory), and loses my interest rather quickly. Reading several chapters of the MC’s childhood to find that one detail which may be pertinent later is not fun, no matter how well written it is. This article speaks on the downside of backstory How NOT to Introduce a Character.
Well-executed backstories don’t feel deliberate, at least not to me. They are placed in a way that answers the questions which naturally arise during reading. They don’t break the rhythm of the story, but can be used to adjust the pace — like a John Williams’ movie score.
Remember, not all advice is 100% right or wrong for you. Writing well takes practice and lots of reading (of both good and bad writing) to learn what works for you.