Back Story in First Pages

Back story is part of the set-up a writer needs to establish in those first pages. But how much back story do you need? The answer is—not much. You need only the information that is essential to understand the story your are telling.  Remember, your first pages are there to entice your reader to continue turning the pages. Don’t bog them down with back story in those important first paragraphs and pages. Keep it sparse. Clean. Get your reader asking questions. Don’t answer them—not yet, anyway.

Go through your first pages and highlight all your backstory in yellow. Then return to those highlighted sentences and analyze them. Does this information need to be introduced right here or could you save it for later? Or try deleting the back story and read the story aloud to a trusted writing friend. Then ask, “What confuses you?” and “What do you want to know more about?” The answers will help you decide how much back story you need to put back in.

Your first pages should give enough back story so your reader is not confused, but not give any information that is not necessary. Slip the back story into the manuscript  in bits and pieces as the story unfolds. It’s never a good idea to dump your back story into the text in huge blocks, but it’s especially important in the first pages.

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