18 hours ago
27 October 2009
Backstory: A Kiss of Death?
Believe it or not, today's post has nothing to do with back injuries. The timing is nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence. :0)
As I mentioned last week, I'm currently in a re-editing/re-writing process on an old manuscript. It started with just line edits and has grown into something more. I'm definitely overwhelmed. You see, the nature of my novel lends itself to a lot of backstory for a number of reasons. And recently I've read that backstory at the beginning of a novel is a "no no". It's taken a while for me to even consider changing it, from the moment I first felt that sinking feeling in my gut until yesterday when I finally took a deep breath and plunged in. Right now there's so much work to do I can't see straight. It's more of a "feel it out" method than an actual plan of attack.
I'm all for having a unique book or breaking a rule so well that it doesn't matter. Some of my favorite authors use large amounts of backstory in their work. Just the other day I picked up a novel by a very prolific Christian author (this just happened to be that person's 100th book) to find a very lengthy prologue full of backstory. So I know it can be done. The question is whether I as an unknown can get away with it so well that an agent will jump to sign me--and if my story itself can hold the amount of backstory it has in the form that I've written it. I suspect I have too much in one place. I decided last night to give re-writing a try, to see what happens when I step outside of that box and try something different just in case the spark of genius lies in that edition. Personally, I like backstory. And I like it in the beginning of a book. But I don't like it so much that I'm not willing to try what the experts say.
So this week is a time of exploration for me. I've committed to trying it out and seeing what happens.
My question to you is this: what do you think about backstory? Do you like to read it? Write it? Do you think it's a kiss of death to have it in the first few chapters of a novel?
Thursday we'll see what some of the experts have to say about it.
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