Thursday, November 09, 2006

That Darn Backstory

Why is it that you can spot errors in another person's work a mile away, but can't see the errors in your own work?

That's why we have proofreaders, editors, copyeditors, and critique partners in this world. And God bless 'em all. But God bless Rene today for pointing out that my first chapter was almost entirely backstory. I had an inkling that it didn't start exactly where I wanted it to, but wasn't sure.

The thing is, it's not like I had paragraph after paragraph of solid narrative. I had action, I had dialogue, I had the character's thoughts and feelings. But backstory isn't necessarily paragraphs of narrative that reveal the character's life story. It can be told through lots of other devices. And that's exactly what I did.

But starting my story with chapter two will work perfectly. Now I have to come up with a great first line...


  1. The dreaded backstory...sigh.

    At least you can start w/ chapter 2.

    And the dreaded first line! How many times have I labored over it...

    Good luck! Thank goodness for CPs!

  2. I so agree! I can never spot my own stuff, but am great at others! And great first lines are crazy hard.

  3. I often find that I cut my first chapter of my first draft. I needed to write it, but the finished story doesn't need to have it in that place.

  4. I have a feeling this is exactly what's happening with my NaNo book, but I'll take care of that during revisions. :D

  5. Yep, it's a common affliction. Good catch!

  6. Most of my fav books have so-so opening lines. I suggest get anything down on paper, and then come back to it.

  7. I once participated in a great workshop where we spent hours on crafting first lines. And I must admit, they're a major factor in whether I read a book.

    You may already have a great opening line halfway down the first page of the chapter. Take a look and see.


  8. Glad Rene helped. But sometimes I think we need to write that stuff that ends up being cut. All part of the process :-)


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