How to delete B.S. (backstory) from your novel
Artists can be creative, quirky, eccentric, motivated, focused, visionary, delusional, imaginative, paranoid….Ah, the highs and lows of living a creative life. The other day, I caught myself practicing a little delusion.
I’ve been taking an online class this month “Creating Compelling Characters,” taught by author and writing mentor Rhay Christou through the Margie Lawson Writer’s Academy. One section is on managing backstory in your novel. Backstory (aka B.S.) is mostly the stuff that never makes it into your novel but that you have to know in order to understand and flesh out your characters.
If you include any backstory at all, one of the best ways to do so is to drip it in only when needed in small bits—a line or two at most. I know this. I thought I was practicing this. But one of our assignments was to read through our chapters and tag any sections of backstory so we could then analyze how we inserted them into the story.
I discovered I had a three-paragraph section of backstory in chapter one! And, after I tagged this B.S., I began making excuses for having it there—it’s necessary information that the reader needs to know, it’s shorter than it looks, etc.—yes, I was deluding myself.
Fortunately, Rhay called me on my B.S. So now, once I finish my first draft, I’ll go back to this area and employ the “shard and slip” exercise described in Margie Lawson’s post, Write Fab Back Story: Not BS!
Read Margie’s post to learn about some of the best ways to include backstory and eliminate any B.S. that will bog your story down. Then, stay tuned for my next post on backstory.