1. essential life
    Offline

    essential life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0

    Should I even bother with backstory?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by essential life, Nov 2, 2009.

    I'm writing a short story. It's about two lovers who meet sometime later in their lives and talk about the old days. But, it's hard to delve substantially into their history unless I write a novel about it, which I'm not. The piece is only about 7,000 words long.

    My question is should I even bother with flashbacks? My theory is that if I can't develop their past relationship enough, maybe I shouldn't bother going there in the first place, since it will just come across as shallow. Maybe I should just let their current feelings for each other sustain the story.

    But I'm not sure what to do. I know it's hard for you to help me unless you've actually read the story I've written, but I figured maybe some of you would have some similar experiences.
     
  2. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    When it comes to back story, bring it is naturally and in small pieces. Then ask yourself, "Does the reader need to know this?" You need to know as much as possible, but the reader doesn't. When it comes to publishing, 7000 words in an awkward length. There aren't many places for work that length, but it's not a good idea to expand on a story that doesn't need it for that reason.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    In a short story, you are best off staying focused on the characters in story time. Show the character interactions, and let the reader guess (or not) about their past.

    Keep it tight.
     
  4. Sillraaia
    Offline

    Sillraaia Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    1
    My initial reaction is to ditch the flashbacks. They can be difficult to implement because they take the reader out of the story you have put them in, and makes them think about something else. It breaks the mood... jarring... if you know what I am trying to say. Being jarred out of the story is frustrating when you are trying to get into it.

    But I am no published author, and I have no clue about your story, or how well you have written it either.

    So the better advice would probably be to follow your instinct. If it doesn't feel comfortable to you, then there is probably something scratchy about it. I get that awkward feeling sometimes about something I am writing, and I one time most recently I had no idea why. It just didn't 'feel' right. It took me 2 days of mulling over whether to keep the idea or ditch it, till I finally figured out why it didn't feel right. It wasn't. There was no possible way to make that work feasibly for me, in my story, with my particular ideas at the time.
    My point is, if I had just listened to my gut in the first place, I wouldn't have wasted the 2 days it took for my head to figure out exactly what the problem was and why I shouldn't do it.

    Believe in yourself. :)
     
  5. Marshmallow
    Offline

    Marshmallow Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston
    I would agree, but I'm guilty of deviating. ;)

    If you trust yourself to implement flashbacks in an understandable and sensible manner, do it. If you don't like it, the beuty is that you can always remove it and edit. :)
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i have to ditto cog's advice [again/still]... and get it down to 5k, if you want to maximize its chances of being published...
     
  7. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I recommend you check out the movie Conversations With Other Women. Its about two lovers who meet later in their lives and discuss their past (as well as their present). What is especially good about it is that the nature of their relationship remains quite ambiguous and there are no flashbacks as such, the backstory is revealed all in the context of a conversation in the present (while remaining more complex and interesting than simply recounting each other's pasts).
     

Share This Page