So, when I think about stories, I think of them as a real history (even if they’re not) and we’re just focusing on one part of that history. What if there are events that led up to the main story you’re writing, and events that follow afterward, but you’re not sure whether including them will bog your story down too much? How much backstory should you include?
And then, after your story’s action has “ended”, where do you say, “The End”? Where do you draw the curtain? I mean, you don’t always show the wedding, the funerals, the rebuilding, etc. But when should you and when shouldn’t you?
Generally, I think stories should begin close to the “moment of change” so there is some time showing the “ordinary world” before your main character goes into the adventure of the plot. Backstory can be sprinkled in bits and pieces throughout the story. There’s nothing set in stone, of course, but rule of thumb for me is that if the backstory doesn’t help the reader understand the character/plot better, it should remain in your character notes only.
I think when it comes to a point where there is no further conflict that is relevant to the plot and/or the readers can easily imagine what happens next for themselves (e.g. the couple gets married, the kingdom gets rebuild), the story should end. Otherwise it would take away a lot of the mystique of the story and it would seem draggy.
Alternatively, if the backstory/after-ending scene is really important, perhaps they can used as a prologue/epilogue.
@katy-walker I think that backstory is definitely important in relation unto the story being a part of a history. That’s generally the way I think about my stories as well. It’s a piece of the chimings of time. Plus, if you put work into it and build up the history – especially with fantasy – you can reference certain places as if they are known fact, like Tolkien does. That is an aspect I like reading when reading any form of fiction. This would follow also poetry, the difference, maybe, would be that you can expand upon it in more ways than you could with prose.
"Eistret an guol nuurdor ank dohk remna lathlrao."- Uondon of Andim