Have you ever watched a film with a scene in which the “action” takes a break for the characters to talk about their pasts? You answer should be yes. Most, if not all, feature films have not one or couple but several scenes with backstory.
The term “backstory” refers to the story or events that took place before the narrative started. Backstory is important to make characters fully round and elaborate. Backstory is not exclusive to motion pictures. Novels and plays also have them.
In Batman, for instance, a prominent backstory is the fact that Bruce's parent were murdered. Notice how this event is not gratuitous – it sheds light on the creation of the Caped Crusader, it gives meaning to his quests. It sets him apart from the teen vigilante who's tired of his routine.
Backstory is revealed through a screenwriting device called “exposition.” There are different methods to offer exposition:
- Through Dialogue
- Through Flashback
- Through Mise-en-Scene
- Through Text Cards
- Through Narration
- Through Music