Writers: No one likes a back-story dump. No one. As a reader, I detest them. As an author, I fear them. If you open your work with a back story dump, you sink your manuscript. Period. Splash. Sunk. I’ve tried to articulate the problem to writers who do-the-dump and have struggled getting my point across. The number one argument I get to justify the dump? They *want* the reader to know everything they know. “It helps to set up the story.”
Beep. Beep. Beep. Did you hear that? It was a big back-story dump truck backing up.
Okay, so then I got a great idea for an analogy.
Dating. Everyone knows the dating game scenario. We all get this. Let me know what you think!
You (your manuscript) just got picked up by an super-hawt-sexy-beast (agent, editor, reader). You *want* them to learn all about you (your manuscript/characters) but you don’t tell them everything that happened to you after they slide up and buy you one drink (open the document). Right? Am I right? Can you imagine?? You just can NOT do that. And they don’t want you to.
Watch how this turns out:
Pretend I’m having a drink with my girlfriends. A sexy beast saunters up and says “How YOU doin?” (Yeah, I haven’t dated since Friends was on Thursday nights at 8pm. So-not-the-point.)
Anyway the sexy beast asks how I am and instead of giving him a once over, coy smile and tip of the head (<– breathes on knuckles…I’ve still got the moves baby.) Instead of hooking him and reeling him in over the course of our courtship, (the way writers need to do to readers) I say:
“Well, ya know, I’m not super- great. I ate a crapton of watermelon at a picnic today, and to be honest, I’m feeling pretty bloated. In fact, I had planned to wear a super-sexy island blue mini-dress, but it was so tight across my belly. Can you imagine? No way, so I’m wearing this. It’s cute, but I bought it last year and never wore it because it was too big back then. I was total vegan last summer and never had to worry about the bloat….well…no…that’s not the whole truth. There were still a few days each month when….wait….where are you going?”
Yeah. If I were that chic, I’d get very few *readers* winky-wink, if you know what I mean.
Final words: Trust me, stick with the coy smile, head tilt, smile combination. Invite the reader to get to know you. Give them a chance to want to for heaven’s sakes! And for the love of all that is holy, don’t EVER tell a sexy beast you’re in your fat dress because you’re bloated!
Writing lessons by Julie. ROFL. How did I do?