Hello and welcome back to another edition of Written Sins. Today I’m serving up a heaping helping of who the frick cares! Don’t worry, the sarcasm is free of charge. 😉
Too much back-story is boring, and too much boring back-story is downright painful. How did I discover this? By reading my own writing naturally. I’ve rewritten the beginning of my manuscript at least a dozen or so times. I’m labouring over it as we all know that the beginning ‘sell’s your novel. Skip ahead. I wrote it, I loved it, and I sent it out for feedback. It went something like this – ‘Meh, well, it’s okay.’ OKAY??? Just okay? You’re calling my darling just, okay??? *chucks it in the bin*
Here’s the thing, as writers we care a lot about the back-story. It shapes the entire world we create and is ultimately the backbone of our multi-faceted characters. BUT. That doesn’t mean that our readers give a crap. For example; do you care that my parents were divorced when I was two? There a million others out there just like me so it doesn’t exactly make me unique. In order to know me better did you really need to know that particular piece of info? I don’t think so. Exploring that a little further let’s say that it was the very first and only thing that you knew about me, prior to actually meeting me for the first time. Would it change the way you viewed me? Or the way you might feel about me? Possibly. Example: You meet a strange man for the first time. You don’t know that he has cancer. He’s a jerk. You walk away thinking ‘damn that guy is a frigging jerk’ but if you knew that he had cancer either up front, or afterwards, you’re naturally going to be more empathetic. You’d react differently.
So, the lesson here is that knowledge is a powerful tool. The pieces of back-story you choose to include, when you choose to include it, should be significant, and minimal.
Tammy’s Tip of The Week
Next time you’re reading a book do this; every time you set it down for the night, or for a pee break, or maybe even for sunscreen re-application if you’re so lucky, look to see where it is you decided to stop reading. Note it down. Do this for at least two books and then review your findings.
I’ve discovered that there are two main times that I set the book down, one is during long back-story narrations, and the other is during scenes that are unnecessarily descriptive. I hope you pop back in sometime and let me know yours. 🙂
AND THE WINNER IS: Devin O’Branagan!!! Congrats and I’ll be in touch to get your mailing address and send you a copy of Pretty Souls asap. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for participating 🙂