But I like the backstory! That’s why I kerplunked it right on the second page of my novel. That’s not quite true but I am attached to the dreaded backstory. There are numerous blog posts and articles on the dangers of the backstory that I’ll now refer to as “the BS.” I’ve been assured that the BS may be so provocative that it will abduct my reader from the urgency of my present day tale. Then again, the BS may prove so boring that the prospective editor or agent may shut their eyes, yawn and drop my manuscript to the floor. It will be kicked under the couch and not found until they search for dust bunnies several years from now. By then I would have given up writing, wondering why I haven’t received a response to my submission, never suspecting it was all the fault of my BS- the backstory.
A good example of this is when it reared its ugly head with my chapter on one of my favorite characters, Mami. This tiny, dark haired part martyr-part fire eater is equally empathetic and annoying in her quest to contain the protagonist of my novel, Covering the Sun with My Hand, Julia, in a status quo existence. When I channeled Mami’s story of witnessing her older sister’s rape while cloaked in the ignorance that only a small child can be allowed, I was transfixed. Alas, the chapter ended up on the cutting floor. While I bit at my knuckles and wiped a few tears away thinking about that darned jewelry box whose fine tinkling sound cast a spell on Mami when she was but six years old, I knew deleting the chapter was the right thing to do. The die had been cast. Having this information about Mami helped me to strengthen her conviction and her words. Every action Mami takes in remaining a paralyzed, yet aggressive, mother lioness can be attributed to this now non-existent chapter 4.
Having the love for and the ability to swim in the undercurrents of life has allowed me to be in the present. I hope that I do this totally, unabashedly and in awe of what we go through and especially when we come up for air. I hope that when I eliminate the BS, it shows up in my writing!