I am currently writing the second book in my fantasy series that I plan on publishing, and I have asked a similar question like this before concerning a different character. I couldn’t take answers from the question I asked earlier though, because even though the questions are similar the situation is very different.

I have an MC named Willow, who is a forest elf and the only MC who isn’t human. Just by being an elf and living in my fantasy world would be enough for a backstory, but I decided she should have more than that. In the third chapter of the first book, her and the main MC are having a conversation. Since Willow is an elf my MC wants to know if she has a last name. Willow asked what a last name was; and my MC told her it was a family name. Willow said plainly:

”My family is dead.”

And doesn’t talk about it for the rest of the first book. Even though tragic, in my fantasy world this is considered normal. Most people are killed before they reach thirty, or in elves cases, two hundred and seventy because elves age nine times slower than humans and other creatures, about the rate of Yoda’s species in Star Wars.

So yes, this makes Willow one hundred and seventy, about a hundred and fifty years older than all my other MCs. Her age is important because it affects her reaction to her family’s death, which happened about a hundred and thirty years earlier, when she was only four years old in looks and intelligence.

Since she has had so much time to deal with it, it doesn’t really play a big part in the rest of the book. In the second book, however, the antagonist, Renadalm, knows my characters greatest fears, regrets, secrets, ect. He re-shows Willow the day her entire family (an older brother, two baby sisters, father, and mother.) were murdered. This causes Willow to step out of her strong confident character for a few minutes and break down in tears. This was not shown in the first book, but it was known.

Should I have added this scene, or at least have Willow talk about it, in the first book? Or is it good where it is? I have not published the first book yet so I decided to ask before it was too late to change.

  • 4
    I think in a series you NEED to save character development elements for later books. Otherwise, your characters get boring and quit evolving. While you need LESS character development (and have more room for evolving storyline) in later books, it still needs to be there.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 2:53

2 Answers 2


I don't think you need the family death scene in the first book, but if you think you need it then you can add it. Here's why I think you don't need it;

  1. It seems like Willow doesn't talk much about her parents and their death, so she's probably just put it behind her for the time being. Being shown their death again sounds like the first time it impacts the plot.

  2. It was such a long time ago that Willow doesn't remember much of it. Seriously, can you remember your fourth birthday? Or anything from when you were four? Willow's had nine times as long to forget, and even if memory scales with the slowed aging the memory is still probably gone.

  3. Willow is (or wants to seem) strong. Showing emotions, or at least sadness, doesn't exactly scream strength. Willow might want to hide her sadness by not really thinking about her families death and just putting it to the side.

  4. It opens up millions of opportunities for prequels. If you keep the backstory vague and only touch on the important things, you can easily do several prequels. The Han Solo movie does this well. You gloss over their past a bit and you can come back later to do whatever you want, just make sure you follow what you've already written.

That's my two cents, hope it helps a bit.


I think it depends on your word count of Book 1, and how many MCs are there, and who takes the spotlight the most in Book 1. If Willow is more of a support to your main MC, I think for a first book, you should focus on your main MC and slightly less on Willow, save some of Willow's essence for the 2nd Book and onwards.

To answer the question at the end(this is my opinion), save Willow's backstory for the sequel, but for the Main MC, expose some or all of theirs, since they are the main MC, and they set the tone for the whole series to come. But it was good to hint at it.

But maybe add a bit of mystery? Instead of dead, maybe 'I haven't talked to them in a while'. (A while being very vague--since an elf's "a while" may differ to a human's); and then just let her say 'my family name is X'. But if you wanna wordplay a little more, 'my family name WAS'. And then have her brush off the Main MC's further questions. Making the Main MC ponder--which will make the readers ponder/remember this for the next books.

Then in the later books, Willow can grow with the Main MC, and her backstory can be slowly told to the readers--same goes to any new member of the party that arrives in the next books.

Disclaimer: I am no expert. I simply have made so much mistakes--and will continue to.

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