Anonymous asked fuckyourwritinghabits:
I have a huge chunk of backstory (ie boring but necessary stuff) in the first chapter, but the story I’m writing needs the audience to understand the situation before getting into the story. I can’t think of any way to solve this (other than maybe putting it in a prologue, but a lot of people tend to skip prologues). Can you please help me?? Thank you.
I’ve been editing and reediting, trying to splice backstory into appropriate scenes, so I feel your point here, anon.
- First: on your first draft, put it where you want to put it, and go from there. Don’t let it hold you back from moving forward because you need it down and in the open in order to get where you’re going
- Second: Hold back as much as you can. Backstory is a tool for you to make a scene more effective, a dramatic reveal, or a mystery solved. The more you hold back for latter scenes, the more powerful you can make those scenes. This is not something you’re going to perfect on the first draft, or the second, or the third, but it is something you should keep in mind. Keep tweaking as you go.
- Third: It is okay to leave your reader questioning. Some backstory is going to be on the cutting room floor, sadly. You need to decide (or get a second opinion!) on what’s important and what’s not. The writer is always going to know more about the character than the reader will, and that’s good, because it gives the reader room to imagine.
- Fourth: Consider alternative ways to dump backstory. Backstory told through a conversation can be very powerful, if done right. It can be told through letters, dreams, or media. Zoo City does a really cool thing with news story clippings inserted between chapters. Don’t hesitate to be creative with your backstory!
Most books rely on backstory to move the story forward, certain genres over others. You could check out The Reapers Are The Angels for zombie horror, God’s War for sci-fi, Beknighted for urban fantasy. Swamplandia deals with the backstory straight-off, hooking the reader in with where it will go from there.* Mostly, though? Go with what feels right, and write from there. You’ll have plenty of chances to make it perfect. Good luck, anon!
*(Swamplandia contains a sexual assault, which I wish books would warn more about, but don’t.)
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A BRILLIANT IDEA!!!
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THERE’S NOT EVEN A FUCKING DENT IN THIS EGG TO I HAVE TO GO TO A HOT TUB AND SING TO IT OR SOMETHING I JUST WANTED FUCKING CHOCOLATE
Crocodile Hunter Bunny Has Subdued a Great White Croc!