WARNING: This blog contains a lot of complaining, grumping and general ranting. Read at your own risk.
Have you ever met someone, say at a writing class or your kid’s basketball game, and you think you might enjoy gettting to know them? Then, the first time you go out for coffee or for dinner the person spends the entire time telling you their WHOLE, ENTIRE LIFE STORY? And they don’t give you a chance to tell them anything about yourself or your family?
Ever go on a date when your potential Mr. Right (or Ms. Right) spends the ENTIRE NIGHT talking about himself (herself)?
Isn’t that the worst?
Backstory dumps are just like the aforementioned experiences. They limit the interaction of the reader. You want your reader to be engaged, to be asking questions, like what will happen next or why did he do that, and you want the reader to be wonder what the characters are thinking. Most of us read to escape. We want to put on our thinking caps when we pick up a book.
Which would you rather read?
A. Jackie Morris is a nurse. She works at Eastwell Hospital. Her mother was a teacher and her dad was a colllege professor. She went to school to become a diesel mechanic but she hated the fact it chipped her nail polish. She likes nursing because she makes good money and she meets good-looking police officers and EMTs. On the weekends she likes to go out with her friends and drink martinis.
B. Jackie Morris grabbed the chart from the desk and walked from the nurse’s station to Room 777. The patient, a victim of attempted homicide