June Challenge: Backstory

Backstory. It’s everything that happened before your story starts. Where your characters came from. When they were born. What events shaped them into who they are today.

Backstory is closely related to character development, another writing skill that we introduced in this writer’s workshop. It can be helpful to answer a lot of questions about your main characters before you begin a story. This “getting to know you” questionnaire is a great place to start.

Once you have a character in mind, your story can’t begin until you know how they got to the moment your chapter begins. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the story opens on Privet Drive with our hero living a miserable life at the Dursley residence. Harry already has the scar on his forehead, and even though we don’t know it yet, J.K. Rowling had to already imagine Voldemort killing Harry’s parents. This scene is the critical part of Harry’s backstory at the beginning of the series: because his parents are dead, he lives with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys. And because the Dursleys hated that Harry’s parents were wizards, they treat Harry terribly, and hide his past from him. So Harry has no idea that he’s a wizard until the invitation from Hogwarts arrives, and so begins one of the greatest adventures in children’s literature.

This month, your challenge is to choose an image of a character on Storybird and imagine what happened before the moment in the illustration. What is this character’s backstory?

June Challenge: Backstory


1. Theme of the month: Backstory - Your challenge this month is choose an image of a single character on Storybird, and write one longform chapter (800 words or fewer) about that character’s backstory. Who is he or she? Where did she come from? How did he get here? What happened right before this image was captured? You can continue to add to your story after the first chapter, but we will only judge the first chapter for this challenge. All stories submitted to the challenge must follow our community guidelines.

To be eligible for inclusion in the monthly roundup, you must submit your story by June 23, 2016.

2. Choose your artwork – Browse our library of images to find the artwork that inspires you. You can choose .

3. Tag - The tag for this month’s writing challenge is backstory You can use any title you choose, but when you publish your picture book, make sure you add the tag backstory on the Book Details page.

Reminder: Stories published from Student accounts are only visible to members of the class you are in. You must have a Regular account for your story to be published in the public library and featured on our blog.

Add your comment

Sign into Storybird to post a comment.