In writing the plot for the piece I'm in the process of beginning, I realised that barely any of my characters had backgrounds. Of the three characters I originally wrote, only one had a background, given that his was the cause for the story to happen. Strangely, he was only a supporting character, and my main character had no background whatsoever. My reasoning for this was that it was about who my main character is and who he is becoming, and has nothing to do with who he was before. I've found that a large portion of novels I've read feature characters whose backgrounds are largely filler material. The way I see it, for a plot line to progress along the desired course, a character needs to have minimum standards. For example, if a story is about someone who murders someone else and goes to prison, obviously they character needs to be very capable of murder in whatever degree. If the story progresses to them being killed in prison, then that gives thought to whether they are the kind of person who can survive in prison, and this allows you to decide how they murdered their victim and how they behave. (Sorry about the prison stuff. I've been watching Prison Break) Backstories, as I said, seem to be largely unimportant. Focus Questions: How important are back stories to you and your characters? How far do you develop them? How often would you honestly say that your "flashback" and back story material is used as filler and is of no real consequence to the basic plotline? Note: When I say "of no real consequence" to the basic plotline, understand that I mean that if that material was taken out, it would not change any opinion of the character to any great degree, et cetera.