Background information is a tricky aspect of storytelling. Background information is one or more details that don’t seem relevant or important in the moment, but as the story progresses audiences work to collect and combine the different pieces of background information, gradually developing a greater understanding of who a character is.
Recently I had the chance to attend a live talk with Neil Gaiman.
“Digression is the sunshine of narrative,” he said with a laugh, politely reassuring the speaker that no one should ever apologize for digressing.
I hurried up the steps, clawing with dirty nails while sweat seeped into my eyes. “Please be there,” I whispered. A door barred my way, groaning as I forced it open, and there she was, sitting by the window, calmly staring out at a warm spring day. She turned to me, and suddenly I remembered all the dirt and blood that caked my clothes. How could I soil such a pure sight?
All stories take place in a fictional world, also known as the diegetic world. The diegetic world is every location shown in the story and every location implied by the story. Part of good storytelling is establishing where the story takes place. The more the diegetic world resembles the world of the reader, the easier it is to establish the world for the reader.