Not to long ago I picked up my first completed manuscript, shook off the dust, and began the revision process yet again. I had become discouraged and didn’t want anything to do with the story.
Truth be known there is nothing wrong with my premise. As a matter of fact, I had a literary agent to tell me it was a really good one. I identified and revised the most blaring of my mistakes, but there was another issue a bigger one that I had missed.
I had made one of the biggest mistakes a new writer makes, and I couldn’t see it. In order for my story to work, I thought it was necessary for the reader to have some backstory. My first 2 chapters were nothing but set up. It was a little history lesson on my main characters to get the reader caught up and make the story easier to follow.
I didn’t want to leave my readers confused. I wanted them in the know. If my reader was familiar with certain aspects of the past, it would also make the story more suspenseful and make them want to know more. At least that’s what I thought.
One thing you need to remember, exposition and backstory can stop the action cold. This is something you can’t afford in the first scene, not when you are trying to convince a reader or editor to buy your book. This doesn’t mean that backstory or exposition isn’t important, it means you can’t drop it all at once, and you can’t start your novel with boring, although important information.
I took my advice and cut those first two chapters. I know that sounds radical, but I decided that I would only giving my reader what they needed to set the stage in the opening pages. I will weave any other pertinent information into the story once it is underway.
Something to think about.