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Old Testament[edit]

Many Christian theologians consider the Old Testament to be the back story for the New Testament. - isn't that a stretch of the meaning of the term? Considering that the OT was written, and published, before the NT, it doesn't seem to fit the definition of "back story" Nik42 08:28, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Nik42 and have removed the section on the Old Testament. It seems to stretch the definition of 'back-story' quite a bit. Tocharianne 14:10, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
  • It doesn't have to be a stretch at all, just PoV: it's routine among some X'tians to treat the OT as backstory The Author provided to the NT, not mention treating all the Jews who ever "lived and loved and fought and died", or yet will do so, as props for their personal salvation dramas. (Feh!) Keep it out as PoV as well!
    --Jerzyt 04:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)[edit]

Removed the external link to This is just a website where people upload pictures and others invent backstories for them. It is not relevant to the usual literary use of backstory. Tocharianne 23:26, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Example section - original research?[edit]

The whole "Examples" sections seems like original research to me. It's full of speculation and weasels words like "arguably", along with definite pronouncements without explanation. I suspect it functions as a magnet for everybody's personal theories. As such, I've tagged it with {{original research}}. Wikipedia isn't about things "everyone knows"; it's about verifiable information derived from reliable sources. If people can add some citations or sources, that would be great. Otherwise, I suspect it needs some serious culling. —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 05:01, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Added a small section on sustainability backstories[edit]

Given that this appears to be an increasingly common usage among environmentalists, I thought that clarifying the difference between the environmental and literary meanings of the term was probably helpful to the reader.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:38, 18 June 2007


Move to Backstory? (from Wikipedia:Requested moves#Incomplete and contested proposals Anthony Appleyard 04:27, 18 July 2007 (UTC))

  • Merriam-Webster: backstory only
  • Random House: backstory (primary); definition reads "also back story"
  • American Heritage: backstory only
  • Encarta: back-story only
  • World Book: back story
  • Word Spy: backstory (primary); "also: back-story, back story". Example citation uses backstory; earliest citation uses back story
  • Did not find in Chambers, Oxford, Cambridge, or Gage
Seems the hyphenated version is as valid as the single-word or the two-word versions; if it must be moved, backstory seems to have the edge over back story. --SigPig |SEND - OVER 04:12, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Notes and references[edit]

I have added an appropriate section to allow for citations to support assertions in the article. (MihalOrela (talk) 14:25, 22 August 2008 (UTC))

Nowhere is it mentioned (?) that backtory abbreviates "background story" — I need to verify this myself. (MihalOrela (talk) 14:25, 22 August 2008 (UTC))

Journalism BackStory[edit]

In my opinion the lead-in text

The term "backstory" has a slightly different sense when used by the contemporary news media. For a reporter, the "backstory" is, generally speaking, any information that does not make it into the story as reported in the news media.

is not the reason why journalists use the backstory. The real reason is similar to that for the whole article on backstory. The backstory is used to provide background, context, for the news article. (MihalOrela (talk) 14:44, 22 August 2008 (UTC))

This view is supported by CNN's own rationale for its BackStory:

"Now, when we want to give history, context and background to a developing story, we go back through our archives to find “milestone” events and then link those together in an interactive window." CNN BackStory

I will try a re-write. (MihalOrela (talk) 14:49, 22 August 2008 (UTC))

Backstory or back-story?[edit]

I was confused by the fact that this article switches back and forth between "backstory" and "back-story," seemingly at random. Would it be better to stick to one form or the other? (talk) 01:31, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree that consistency is important. Would anyone care if the title was changed to "Backstory" before making the spelling consistent? Mike Klaassen (talk) 23:07, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

I changed "back-story" to "backstory" throughout the aricle, but the "Move" function did not allow me to re-title the article.Mike Klaassen (talk) 17:50, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

I see the term "back-story" is back in place of the simpler "backstory". I have added in a separate bibliography section for the text. The current reference to the CNN page is no longer functional. I will comment it out.--Михал Орела (talk) 16:26, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

I note that the New York Times now uses Backstory 2009-07-25. I will use this reference for the main article and will look for a replacement for the non-functional CNN reference.--Михал Орела (talk) 16:38, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Hmm! I notice that the ref I gave to the NY Times is not the best. Much better is Backstory 2009-07-25. I note that the NY Times also writes "Back Story With The Times's David Herszenhorn (mp3)".--Михал Орела (talk) 16:49, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

So! In order to avoid any controversy on spelling and to clarify the origins of the concept I have rewritten the introductory sentence(s):

"The term back-story is a contracted neologism of the phrase background story. Both back story and backstory are also in common use. The backstory frequently occurs today in both fiction and nonfiction, such as newspaper articles, computer games and films."--Михал Орела (talk) 11:21, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Backstories for our times[edit]

I am thinking that it might be a good idea to list some significant journalistic references to the practical use of the backstory in modern times:

The Guardian Newspaper consistently uses "Backstory".--Михал Орела (talk) 15:19, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

I think that now is the time to use "backstory" throughout. It is "cleaner" in current usage than the hyphenated "back-story". At some later stage I will fix the re-direct.--Михал Орела (talk) 13:32, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Rem'd refs[edit]

I removed the following refs


which link to the same advertising-heavy site, one that also offers to pay the authors who contribute to it and to refer for-pay writing assignments to them. It raises concerns in my mind for several reasons:

  1. The author of the cited pages uses the same name there as does, at WP, one of the heavy contributors to the accompanying article, including the refs and the original (and until my edit, insubstantially changed) version of the section containing them. I don't FWIW detect signs of copy-vio, but there's a strong suggestion of COI-vio, which undercuts the value of the contributor's implied assessment of the appropriateness of the refs.
  2. The ad content is likely to be a burden to users who consult the ref'd pages; we should live with that only if we cannot find other refs for suitable content.
  3. The site appears to differ from typical blogs (which we reject as unreliable) in paying writers, without accruing the increased reliability one hopes for, when the typical sites that employ journalists edit their content with an eye to facts. We only know one of the ref'd author's sources (the Card excerpt), and we can still draw on that -- and on its context beyond what the ref'd pgs provide.

I am therefore replacing those refs with "citation needed" tags.
--Jerzyt 06:14, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

"literary device"[edit]

"Literary device" seems like the wrong term to me, given that a backstory – used to help define the characters in the writer's own mind – need not appear in the finished product at all. Is a writer's plot outline also a "literary device"? —Tamfang (talk) 01:48, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: moved to Backstory. Favonian (talk) 10:21, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Back-storyBackstory – The spelling used by such reputable authorities as Merrian Webster online[1] and the New York Times. Need editor to make move. clariosophic (talk) 16:19, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Support. The evidence cited above is purely American, and it is not surprising that the fused form dominates in the US (see WP:HYPHEN at WP:MOS). But the hyphenless form is also dominant in British English, as ngram evidence for the backstory,the back - story,the back story shows.

    NOTES: 1. Best to include "the" or similar context in such a query, so that irrelevant expressions like "bring back story" are excluded. 2. Yes, spaced hyphen; that is how to represent a hyphen in an ngram query.

    ☺ ♥ NoeticaTea? 21:28, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Support. In addition to all the evidence presented above, the proposed title just looks right. Jenks24 (talk) 11:52, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Support, but surely giving Merriam-Webster's Collegiate alone is insufficient as dictionary evidence. Backstory is also endorsed by other American dictionaries (e.g., American Heritage, Random House), by the UK's Concise Oxford and Oxford Dictionary of English, and by other countries' dictionaries (e.g., Canadian Oxford, Macquarie). Some British dictionaries, such as Collins, prefer the two-word back story, but clearly backstory is the best choice for this move. SSR (talk) 06:48, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.