So my goals may not be being met…
But that doesn’t mean I’m not trying. I really am. Working on a new book, in a new series, is not always easy.
Especially when it’s a spin off of my others series, The Mythical Knights.
Because, you see, I know all the things. Like all the backstories, and all the history, and who all the characters are, and all the things.
And I find myself in a weird place–the place where I assume my readers either:
- Haven’t read my previous series,
- Have read it, but it’s been a while
- Just finished it, and are ready for more.
And then I get into exactly how much back story is necessary to be there, without bogging down the story, but still allowing enough information for new readers to get it.
So how much is enough?
Well, that’s harder to gauge than one would think. because if I go by my own preferences, there’d be totally like NONE. Because I hate “tea drinking” scenes. I want books to be: Action. Action. Action. Action. Internal Monologue. Action. Action. Repeat.
AKA: I want my books to be action movies.
The problem with that? I’m not a typical reader. I have learned over the years–and there’s been a lot of years learning this stuff–that readers like to have more backstory, but not pages of it. They also want action, but they want to breathe in between actions. Forward momentum, with some pauses to mull over what just happened.
And if a series is a spin-off of another series? They want just enough pacing to allow a refresher course, but not so much that it is too much.
Scratching your head yet? I know I would be.
Fortunately, I have an editor that does beta reading, and she’ll tell me if I’m too far one way or the other. But not everyone has someone to do this. You can find editors or proofreaders that will do this. Or you can ask your friends (preferably those who write, for they will be more apt to tell you, and less likely to sugar-coat it for you, because they’re going to know the importance of the information) to beta read.
I know several authors who use beta readers to read a chapter at a time as they write. I am not a huge fan of this technique, simply because I feel like I, as the writer, know why certain characters act the way they do/say the things they say/do the things they do. I feel like someone else’s critique takes away from the story momentum for the reader, and it also leaves the author open to criticism which is detrimental to a first draft.
Because I’m not going to finish it, if all I’m doing is going back after every beta reader gives me their thoughts, and try to tweak it to make a handful of people like it better.
Yeah, backstory is hard.
The best writing I’ve ever seen that does backstory better than anyone else, will hands down be JK Rowling in the Harry Potter Series. I will always defer to the Harry Potter books as how to do backstory. She does it phenomenally well. It is only added when it is necessary, and then it is only added in the most concise way possible.
I am not JK Rowling. And I won’t be. But I will deliver the best story I can. And I will get the backstory right, and I will continue to drop it in when the characters tell me it’s important, and not a moment sooner.
Because the characters know this stuff. They just have to tell me when to share it.