Thursday, May 2, 2013
Backstory and Timing
The other day I was reading an article or a blog post (and unfortunately I can't locate it to reference) about keeping the readers attention. The article noted the key to keeping a reader from skipping over what they deem unnecessary information is to include only what is relevant at the time. As I read it, I thought duh. I find myself skipping over chunks when I read occasionally, things that don't seem to move the story forward.
Then a couple days later I picked up The Archived by Victoria Schwab. If you haven't read it yet, you need to. It's really good! Anyways, what struck me is that the main character Mac references her past where her grandfather, Da, taught her to be a Keeper. She does this through flashbacks. And those flashbacks occur only when absolutely necessary.
Instead of sprinkling in the rules Keepers must abide by throughout the novel, she sprinkles in flashbacks where we get to connect with her grandfather and learn more about why the rules are in place. The reader makes the same connection with Da that Mac has, and I loved that. He wasn't just some secondary flat character in the past, he's full and I loved him. Plus, the information was brought forward in an engaging fun manner that kept what wold have been exposition out.
If you're looking for a good book to read and learn how to get the timing of backstory just right, you need to read this book. Plus, it's really good!