1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.

    Lessons from how the backstory was handled in two books.

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by GingerCoffee, Sep 12, 2015.

    I read books now with an eye for what I can apply to my writing skills. Backstory was a key reason I didn't read past the first chapter in a book yesterday and it was in stark contrast to the backstory in the one I'm reading that I didn't think I would like but do.

    Legend by Marie Lu
    I loved another book of hers, The Young Elites, so I was expecting the same quality. Legend was one of her earlier books and the lack of skill showed.

    It opened with an exposition dump interspersed with a tiny bit of action. The character tells us all about his world, he's in the lower class, there s a plague, he's wanted by the authorities, his biometrics are not in the data base ... and on and on.

    It was a good example of why we don't need to dump the whole backstory on the reader at the beginning of the book. Resist the urge. Let the reader learn about the backstory after you've gotten them to care about the character.

    Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve
    The character is young and I was looking for something with older characters but the author's setting descriptions were really good so I kept reading. I need to work on my setting descriptions.

    The backstory unfolds slowly as part of the mystery you have to keep reading to find out about.

    The contrast between these two books highlighted how to do, and not do backstory.
    peachalulu likes this.
  2. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I read a book the other day that had me thinking about my pace. Having been on these sites for so long - and the shun of tell, I've avoided a lot of 'introspection' of my characters and exposition. I knew I needed more though, the pace was rather strange - nearly everything a virtual scene, hardly a chance to breath or touch base with my themes.

    Reading the book was a good wake up call. I really need to incorporate some slow down moments in my book. Telling is not the awful monster it appears to be and can actually pull a scene together turning it from something merely interesting to powerful if you can work it properly. I recall doing it for Moonlight, my Advantage. I just have to get back to that.
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  3. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 12, 2015
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    London, UK
    I just learned this lesson too, thanks to a thread on here and a workshop entry. :)
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