First, before I get to anything, I want to say that I'm glad all my relatives are back safe and sound (in body if not in mind) from their various setbacks. Alex, I demand pictures of Italy! And no. I'm still convinced "calm, cool, and collected" is no one I'm related to!
Now, back story: Was watching Singing in the Rain last night, or the beginning at least. They take considerable time to go through Gene Kelly's Don Lockwood characters early life. How he got into show business, his move from stunt man to leading man. While slightly interesting, it wasn't very relevant to the story.
I know a lot of writers (me included until a very nice critique partner bashed me over the head and told me to cut it all) have a tendency to include long stretches of back story for their characters. They want everyone to know them as the writer does.
But that doesn't really move the story forward, nor does it do anything but slow the pacing down. Anything relevant to the character's past--as it pertains to the story--should be threaded through the story itself. Little bits of things that come out when they're important.
How do you thread your characters story into your novel? Or does he/she live in the here and now?