I am working on a fantasy novel and have built my world leading up to the 'main story'. Much of the context of the story has to do with religions created by past civilizations and references to "the Kings of Old".

I have started from the beginning and am currently developing the history of the world. My original plan was only include the 'main story' as my piece and reference the history throughout to give a type of mythical feel. Now I am not so sure.

I am debating on keeping the history but I'm afraid jumping through generations will seem unorganized and may not flow as the reader would like. Is there much benefit in telling the history explicitly or is keeping it 'mythical' in the best interest of the reader?

1 Answer 1


Tell the reader only those parts of the history that affect this story. The parts that the characters think about or talk about during the course of the story. The parts that the characters have opinions and attitudes about during the course of the story. The parts that affect and constrain and compel the characters' decisions and actions.

Leave the other stuff out of this story. Maybe include it as an appendix. Or offer it as a separate document, a bonus for your readers who want to know about the background of the story.

If something in the history is interesting enough, make it its own story.

  • 3
    Totally agree. There ARE some fantasy writers who get away with a lot more backstory and exposition than I personally enjoy in a book, but I still think it's best to stick to the main story as closely as possible.
    – Kate S.
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 10:57
  • Plus learning the history of the world through the character's thoughts and speech also describes the character.
    – Vorac
    Commented Jul 4, 2020 at 9:38

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