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  1. Mercurial

    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 16, 2009
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    How much to reveal?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mercurial, Apr 1, 2009.

    I'm writing a new short story, which will be posted when it's finished in the Review Room, but as I outlined my basic plot and scenes, I catch myself thinking that I have a lot of backstory.

    The backstory is indeed important to the present day part of the story, but I'm having trouble deciding whether it's necessary to the story itself. You see, the climax of the story is when you find out that what you thought everything was is actually not --the story in itself is just a huge metaphor. And disclosing the backstory would reveal what needs to be saved for the climax, before the climax. :(

    I feel with the character's history, the story and meaning behind it would carry more weight, which is what conflicts me.

    Should I include the history or not?
    I know the question is rather vague (because I dont want to give the story away! :) 'Cause I'll be posting it here when I'm finished), but what do you think I should do, given the information you're aware of?

    Maybe I should write the story and write the history as well, post them both in the Review Room and ask for opinions on where it fits --or whether it fits at all?
    Is that allowed?


    PS: Is it just me as a writer that I want the reader to know everything that I know? I feel knowing what I know, the story means more... I fear that unless I spell it out, my readers will miss what I find most interesting (though one must dig for the information, which is its beauty). So conflicted. :p
  2. JavaMan

    JavaMan Senior Member

    Jul 15, 2008
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    I guess that you were kinda expecting this, but your query is too vague. But I wanted to say this, being that your name is Mercurial:

    One of the ancient myths of the god Mercury described a conversation he had with Jupiter just after he was born. Being that Mercury was a trickster god, Jupiter asked him to promise to never tell a lie. Mercury answered that he would never tell a lie, so long as he was not bound to tell the whole truth.

    My point is that, IMHO, writing is completely - almost anyhow - about adaptability and mutability. Personally, if you need to write excessively about the history of the characters or whatnot, it wouldn't be much of a short story, now would it?:D
  3. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    I'm a minimalist, whicj is particularly important for writing short stories. However, I do feel that novels are improved also by eliminating unnecessary material.

    What you do provide of the backstory, provide in tantalizing tidbits scattered throughout the narrative, If you leave the reader wanting more, so much the better. Perhaps the backstory will make another story on its own.
  4. Rei

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Aug 2, 2008
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    Hint at the backstory, but it's not necessary to give us a history lesson or state outright exactly what has happened in the past unless it's essential to understand the story.
  5. whenchristianwrites

    whenchristianwrites New Member

    Jan 30, 2009
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    As Rei said, You don't really need the backstory inless it is completely needed to understand what is going on.

    If you don't include an entire backstory it can add a sence of mystery and then you learn the situation and infer you own backstory for why they are in their situation.
  6. lynneandlynn

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Mar 28, 2009
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    Asheville, NC
    Personally, if I start writing a novel and realize just how much backstory is important for readers to understand the direction I'm going, sometimes I'll just take the backstory and create the first novel out of it. Right now, for example, I'm working on the backstory novel because with the society it's based in, there are so many rules and cultural aspects that it's impossible to write the current part without really digging into the background. So if that's the type of problem you're having, I'd suggest just creating two separate novels- one with the backstory and one with the "current" story.

    If, however, it's only a little bit of information that you have in the backstory- I'd agree with Rei- hint at it. Hint at it throughout each chapter, a little at a time, but never fully reveal it all at once, or it may make a reader want to stop after the backstory and not want to finish the story itself.

  7. Dalouise

    Dalouise Contributing Member

    Feb 9, 2009
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    It sounds like a lot... for a short story... :confused:
    Buy hey, all will be revealed when you post it and I might understand it a bit better then. ;)

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