I’ve recently really gotten into the show Euphoria. I know I’m late to the party, and I know it’s not for everyone (it can be super hard to watch), but it’s so good.
What made the show amazing? A ton of things, but I think what drew me to the show the most was Rue narrating the characters’ backstories at the beginning of the episode. I seriously looked forward to that part the most and would try to guess whose backstory I would learn about next.
It made the characters so much more complex, and it explained the motivation behind some of their truly questionable life choices. I suddenly would like a character that I thought I hated. It also gave the show a really cool vibe, and it also provided an opportunity to develop Rue’s voice more through explaining other people’s stories.
Now how do you apply this to your writing? Do NOT do an info dump like Rue did at the beginning of the show (it’s television so you can get away with different things in a more visual format). Back away from that idea.
BUT you can write out backstories for all your characters (or at least ones that are named and have a minimally significant role in your story). If you can stomach it, I suggest watching an episode (they are rated MA) to see how she narrates the stories and then try to do it for your characters.
You won’t be including all of this in your story (and you probably shouldn’t), but you’ll better understand your characters and their motivations, which will make for a better book.
Bonus points if you write the backstory from the main character’s point of view because that will help you develop their voice.
If you do try out this exercise, let me know how it works for you! I wanna know. 🙂