Too Much Backstory vs Not Enough

Or how to give readers what they need to know versus massive info dumps of information.

I don’t do well at this. It’s been the one largest flaw in my published story. People saying they felt they were dropped in the middle of something and didn’t know what was going on because I’d cut out too much backstory.

And I say cut out too much back story because as *everyone* in my crit group knows my first drafts are rife with back story. Paragraphs on why things are the way they are, why things work the way they work and the social structure of the Fae I’m writing about. As each story expands the world I write in, more things come to light about it.

Then I pare it down, going through it at least twice. And then, not infrequently, I’m still told I have too much back story.

So for this submission I tried so very, very hard to minimize the back story and focus on the action. What I ended up with is all action and not enough back story.

Of course the tendency will now to be to not cut as much, but I *think* I can temper that. Hopefully this next story I’ll find the balance between too much information and not nearly enough.

Hmm, you know what I think I need? A blind beta read. So many of my crit partners have seen stories set in the world I’m writing Warder in, I’m worried they know the backstory and place well enough they’ll miss when I’m not giving enough information. I think there’s a Goodreads group for this, let me check. If not, any volunteers? :-) I think I’ll have this ready for a beta read mid-June. Let me know.

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3 thoughts on “Too Much Backstory vs Not Enough

  1. I agree with Jennifer. It’s really in the eyes of who’s reading the story. I hear it some about my books and on the other hand, readers of the same books claims they are great they way they are. So keep doing what you do so well!!

  2. OOHHHH!!! With Love Kinection (my summer release with Decadent) I thought I had too much back story. A beta reader agreed and I was ready to chop it out. Then my el fabuloso editor Dana got her hands on it and said “Keep it. I like it.”

    Sometimes I think it’s a function of who’s reading it.

    As for Ginny’s Capture, I read it, really liked it, and while I wanted to know more, I didn’t feel horribly confused at a lack of back story. I rather firmly ended up in the camp called “Give me more in this world cause I want to see what else Ellie has come up with! This is new original stuff!”

    Okay, squeeing fan girl moment over. :)

    Of course, if you want a new beta reader, I can easily revert back into squeeing fan girl mode.

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