“A recent Writer’s Digest article, “Building Backstory” by Larry Brooks, stated that a novelist should show only ten percent of his character’s backstory — the “iceberg principle” he called it. Suspense author and writing instructor Brandilyn Collins holds herself to a firm rule about backstory — none in the opening chapters.”
I found a rather long discussion of backstory on another blog, starting with the above lines. Why is backstory to be entirely banned from the first few chapters? Apparently, because it will slow the story down and isn’t necessary. And if it’s to be used at all, it should be limited to 10% of what might be known about a character in the past. This is the kind of absolute BS that drives me crazy.
If a writer can’t determine what part of the backstory is necessary to the story and what part gets in the way, then she shouldn’t be writing fiction. If she can’t introduce backstory in an organic way that doesn’t slow things down by becoming an infodump, she shouldn’t be writing fiction. Or god forbid, she could learn to do those things and ignore the rigid, beancounting advice that’s passed off as “professional.”
That is all.
Yeah, I’m still cranky.