Monday, November 26, 2012
meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters
Today's meander begins with a question. How much backstory does a reader need to know and when and how should this backstory be given? Been reading some contest entries recently and found the greatest problem with some, both published and unpublished was the amount of backstory given in the opening few pages. This rather annoyed me and made me want to skip those pages. Not a good idea when a contest is being judges. Often the offered backstory is something the writer needs to know. The blocks of paragraphs, sometimes interesting to read, and other times not, are usually about events the writer needs to know to develop both the characters and the plots. But to find line after line regaling the reader with what happened to the hero or heroine in the past slows the pace of the story, can confuse the reader.
How these paragraphs of backstory are done can vary. Sometimes the writer uses a prologue. This can be effective if kept short and really have had an effect on the character. Otherwise the reader may get the wrong idea of what the story is really about. Then there are the stories that start out with a bang of a paragraph or two of action and then stop to give what happened to the hero or heroine in the past and this goes on for pages.
Some beginnings give a bit of backstory that is just enough. A clue, a hint of what happened in the character's past to make them what they are today.
How about you? Do lengthy backstories in the beginning of the book annoy you?
My own writing continues with work on The Goddesses or Er and on finishing the corrections on Lines of Fire so I can submit it to one of my publishers.