If I was really efficient, I'd have a bunch of blogs to link to regarding this topic. Since I'm not that efficient . . . well, you'll just have to take what you get this morning.
There appears to be a great debate in the literary world regarding backstory, that can be summed up with one simple question: How much backstory is too much backstory?
Now, the inspiration for this post came Rachelle Gardner's post about tightening up your manuscript as well as a few other blogs that I've read recently. One of the items on Rachelle's list was unnecessary backstory. I mean, we've probably all done it at one time - throw in a ton of backstory because we think, no, because we BELIEVE it is necessary. We BELIEVE the reader needs to know every endless detail about our characters life . . . before they get into the meat of our brilliant stories!
Yes, I've been guilty of the too much backstory thingy. In fact, I could create a great prequel to a book or two based on the huge amounts of backstory I have created . . . at times.
Backstory is great . . . in small doses. I guess what I'm trying to say is . . . don't overwhelm your reader with a ton of backstory.
I normally intersperse backstory into the first few chapters. You see, when I meet someone for the first time, I don't know everything about him/her. I learn that information over time. I think, at least for me, backstory should be learned over time as well. Give your readers enough info to get a general idea of your character, and let them learn the rest as the story progresses.
Now, some out there in the blogsphere are going to disagree with me. More power to them. Writing is a process and we all do it in our own unique way. The blogsphere is a teaching tool for aspiring writers. We all talk about how we write. And, hopefully, we all learn a bit from following the gazillion blogs we follow, whether here on Blogger, on Networked Blogs, or wherever. I firmly believe that we should never stop learning. We might not all write in the same way, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from how others write as well. Trust me, I've learned a ton by following the blogs I follow.
So, I leave you with these questions . . .
How much backstory is too much backstory?
Do you overwhelm your readers with backstory or slip in a bit here, there, and everywhere?
If you overwhelm? Why?
If you intersperse? Why?