Show and not Tell


After another incredible conversation with my agent, I started work on the final leg of revisions for my urban fantasy novel.  First thing – adding a new chapter.  This wouldn’t be that big of deal if it wasn’t for the content of this new chapter.  Backstory. *shudder*

I’ve managed to subtly add a great deal of backstory in bits and pieces throughout the novel.  But this time, a specific feeling/memory is necessary to get the character revelation to where it needs to be.  So here’s the real challenge:  how to SHOW backstory without TELLING it.

From what I’ve heard from my writer friends, I’m not the only one to struggle with this. (By the way, I’m open to all helpful hints when it comes to revealing backstory!)  But fortunately, my agent extraordinaire has given me a great tip:  make the backstory active and not just straight narration.  Let the reader hear some of the dialog, bring the action to the forefront, let the reader feel like they’re with the characters in the flashback or memory moment.

This isn’t revolutionary insight, I realize that, but sometimes I need a reminder in the area of showing-not-telling.  It’s just so much easier to TELL a story sometimes – especially when it comes to backstory.


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