ADVICE : Your mc's sad backstory

so if you open any story on the app, there are big chances the MC was ether abusive and/or the parents are dead. aka the sad backstory. which is very much overused.

I know it would be way too much to ask people to stop doing that. I myself are doing it. because the easiest way to not have parents in the story is to kill them.

so let’s talk about why you not should give characters this story arc. and what you can do about it, if you wanna give them this story arc

first why not to do it.
it’s overused, I already mentioned, almost every story has this background story for the MC. people are tired of seeing it. readers want a normal family life

second its pity points. the sub-story is used to develop the character. instead of giving her a personality, life, goals and interest, to make us like character and get to know her and develop feelings for her (or him) we just give her a very terrible life. because it’s much more easy to get people to pity a character. through bad events. but the case because it’s so overused it dosent work anymore. instead of pity her we just think, not another one.

so what can you do if this is the backstory you want for your character? because its your story and your choice

I recommend waiting with the backstory. dont tell it in the first couple of chapters. I personally first plan to tell about it in my story in episode 9. the give the character time to develop so that it dosent feel like I try to get you to pity my character. and it feels more like a backstory than an easy personality for pity points.

another reason why it’s a good idea to wait, an example I just started this romance mafia story. that was what I wanted. the entire first chapter was MC sad background story, that was not what I wanted to read. I wanted romance not a tragedy.

a good way for you to tell the backstory instead of the one I just saw where the MC who was a stripper talk to the reader and says I know my life suck but there is a reason SAD BACKSTORY

then wait to a character actually ask it could be the LL, in chapter five they talk there life growing up MC might begin to cry before telling, he lays his arm around and tell her you dont have to tell it to me but if you want to I am listening, and then you give the sad backstory.

or in my story as an example. MC is going to the cemetery and LL follows her there because they had a fight and he wanted to say sorry. after the sorry is said she tells him her sad backstory. and he tells her his

edit: I forgot to mention waiting with the backstory give the readers a curiosity for the backstory. if you give small hints. and it makes it more interesting when you find out what the backstory is


I think it just comes down to intent and having a clear idea of who your character is, plus exposition dumps are cheap and lazy in general, if you know who your MC is and have a good idea of where your story is going you can add bits and pieces of back story organically. It’s the basics of character development. Side note whoever wrote that story has such a Lifetime idea of what being a stripper is, I have clients (women who spend hundreds a month on salon services) and friends who make minimum 500$ a night, they like their job as much as anyone likes their job and they live really well - miss me with that basic ass daddy issues cliche.


true info dumps is really bad too. especially since the info dump often never comes up again. and they are just a dont do it

I agree. some stripper jobs might be bad. but honestly arent it like that in every profession some are good some are bad


I have friends who are strippers because they like their job. They make some real money, too. So, I totally agree with you & Line. Not all strippers are desperate, broke and have daddy issues. Some genuinely enjoy it and the money they make.

I think this is the main issue. People have a story idea but don’t take the time to really invest in their character. I think this is why so many stories have such flat/ one-sided characters… because they’re character development is " He’s a badboy because it’s popular who really cares why!" and that’s it.

Sad backstories can be done well, as Lia stated… but when people bust out everything at the very beginning of the story it feels like they’re going “LOOK PITY MY CHARACTER!!” and it honestly makes me less invested in the character or what happens to them.


Exactly, there’s no payoff because we don’t know the character well enough to care in the first place, even if you had a really good idea for a back story and it makes sense and ties in with the narrative well, it’s not effective if you shove it down a readers throat all at once. It’s a waste.

There’s a club down the street from my salon, those girls make the best clients -they get all the services, come in on time, tip generously- they all have nice cars, a lot own their own homes. They live like fucking queens and they do it on their own terms. There are worse jobs.


I have a story idea of a meddling mother setting up the MC on a blind date and it ends up being someone she hated (in school.) There are flashbacks showing her memories of him in short bursts, but they don’t 1- show the whole situation or 2-show his side of it and the why he was behaving that way. His side will be revealed much later (and the length depends entirely on the choices made. lol) and the MCs backstory isn’t shown until much later, too. She has her reasons for being so guarded about relationships.


I do think that, in certain stories, the intro using a backstory (when done well) can be great. It can emotionally attach a person to a characters journey… but it has to be done really well to do that. The Romance genre is a shining example of backstories being put out there way too soon. Now, in example, the action genre a backstory might be needed, not so much to pity, but to give people a lead-up to the “Now this is life” part. If it’s not done correctly, it feels like “pity” this character. So, I think it depends on the intent and the execution when an author chooses to do a backstory first.


Back story can be utilized in several effective ways, like it’s the basis of your story’s plot so it obviously plays a huge role and works in the narrative, it gets sticky when it’s used as a short cut through character development or as a way to excuse a characters bad actions rather than explain their actions and motives. How many stories are there where the shitty things the LI does no matter how toxic are suddenly forgiven when the MC learns they had a bad childhood?


I agree. That’s one of the things I find so just unrealistic. In the real world, bad behavior isn’t just excused because --instert any BadBoy LI backstory–. And I feel like stories like that romanticize abusive and toxic relationships. Everyone has a right to write as they please, but I think authors need to remember that there are young and impressionable girls on here that may take this as “he’s abusive but it’s okay because his mom didn’t love him.” No, just no. There’s never a reason good enough to deal with toxic people.


For sure. Also life is hard and everyone carries trauma, like literally every human being on the planet has had bad experiences that shaped their perspective and affected their choices, no one gets a pass for hurting other people.


it can also be like. instead of show litarraly the entire story show a little.

I have been writhing on a story which has a little back story in the start. but that is only the most nesasary. his paretns are dead but I dont say how and why,

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If it makes sense for a reader to have that information I’d say it’s a good use of a flashback.

Also if it’s a flashback then you’re showing not telling which is always better in Episode stories, it’s not the same when it’s given to the reader in a long exposition dump. A flash back is much more effective.

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its not a flash back its more forword. you know he is first a kid and then jumps to adult

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Ah, sounds more like a prolog.

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yes prolog that is what its called. I wanted to say epolog. but that is the ending

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Moved to Episode Fan Community since Community is for discussion of specific stories. Make sure to check out our Forum Tutorial for more info about creating topics, and feel free to PM me if you’ve got questions. :wink:

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