The Neglected Side of Backstory

a_girlThis is NOT a post about limiting backstory in your manuscript, query, or synopsis to avoid info dump.* I completely agree with that recommendation. This post is about what I learned about backstory from Jodi Henley who is a story consultant, workshop instructor, developmental editor, and author.

Backstory, or in Jodi’s terms “core event,” is important in the pre-planning stages.

Why is backstory essential? The emotions stemming from this core event form the structure of your story and affect everything from the character’s GMC to the HEA. While you’re writing, even the slightest tweak in backstory and related emotions can create a tsunami of changes that will either sink your story structure or throw it off course.

Has that ever happened to you?

What backstory would you create for the girl in the painting?


For more information about Jodi Henley, her workshops, and free instructional videos, visit . . .

For an opposing view on the importance of backstory, visit Historical Romance author, Joanna Bourne.

*In case you really wanted information on limiting backstory to avoid info dumping, visit the following blogs.

An interview with literary agent, Sara Megibow

A post by Contemporary Romance author, Sugar Jamison


  1. This is the one stop for just about everything you need to know about backstory. Jodi Henley has an interesting perspective on backstory. It is good food for thought. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to taking a class from her in the future.

  2. Yes! Yes! And thank you! This is a great, info-rich blog about all things back story! Emotions and motivation stem from back story. I had to learn this the hard way. Wonderful post, Jillian!

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