The way I feel about the literary “backstory” issue is the same way I feel about my HUSBAND’S backstories when my son somehow ends up in the emergency room whenever I leave those two alone for even an hour of “me-time.” I really don’t CARE what happened BEFORE unless the information has a DIRECT IMPACT on the current situation. That’s basically the cardinal rule of the backstory –make the reader WANT to know the information, don’t just ASSUME they desire to hear extra useless information that will either bore them to tears or make them forget what your book is actually about!
Luckily, in my book “101 Ways to Torture Your Husband” (which makes a perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Birthdays, Weddings, Bachelorette Bashes, and pretty much any occasion —shameless plug) I didn’t really have too much use for backstory. I’m far from being a novelist (my A-D-D poses a challenge to get through them) so therefore I only had one character to explore in my book (i.e. my husband). Did readers have to be subjected to every nitty-gritty exhausting detail I’ve had to deal with for 15 years? Nope, I didn’t think so.
But here’s a little backstory on my husband which is quite interesting. When I met him, he was a sweet, fun-loving, generous and adorable 25 year old guy. Lots has changed after 14 years of marriage, parenthood, 6 moves, countless stupid arguments, and the occasional fits of madness, but I still have moments when I see the same fresh-eyed 25-year-old guy staring back at me, and I fall in love all over again.