One of the key pitfalls of backstory, especially early in a novel, is either confusing backstory or overly coy and “mysterious” backstory. Here’s what it looks like.

In the enigmatic town of Serenity Falls, nestled deep within the embrace of towering pine forests and shrouded in perpetual mist, secrets were as abundant as the whispers that echoed through the labyrinthine streets. The townspeople moved with an air of quiet reserve, their eyes veiled and their lips sealed, guarding the mysteries that lurked in the shadows of their collective history.

Isabella, a newcomer to Serenity Falls, with a past as elusive as the morning fog, felt an inexplicable pull toward the town’s enigmatic allure, drawn by a sense of curiosity that she could neither explain nor ignore. She found herself embroiled in a web of intrigue and suspense that seemed to emanate from the very soul of the town itself.

Editor Tiffany Yates Martin discusses this terrible passage of backstory (written by AI, in fact) and then shows how to improve it. This is a super-powered lesson in great writing in just three minutes. Want more valuable nuggets like this? Sign up for Tiffany’s three-part class on Mastering Backstory.

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