on conveying exposition & backstory economically
Love this as always, Kathy. I often say with show vs tell that it comes down to how quickly / easily we want a reader to acquire knowledge (like "All day I’ve been angry in upstate New York" at the start of "Inheritance" by Grace Q. Song: https://www.smokelong.com/stories/inheritance-2/); and I love your seven-point checklist as something that sits alongside that. (Also, is it okay that I quietly dislike Betsy for writing a bestselling novel before the age of ten?)
That is so helpful, Kathy, as always! Thanks so much.
Interesting and helpful tips, Kathy. Thank you!
Even my backstory has backstory.
Loved this. I always pick something up, thank you
Coincidence this shows up on my feed? Having posted a flash fiction piece this morning, I risk a wild guess it is not coincidence! Great post Kathy. I am pushing it with 1k words maybe. 1.5k seems to be the overall agreed max, still hardly enough for lenghty expositions, in Tuco’s words, it needs to be tight, tight, tight! Did I succeed with The Pawn? It certainly can improve. I try to squeeze in backstory and expo via dialogue mostly.
Very true. The idea is usually to move backstory...back. Start us with action, the inciting incident. Give us little bits of backstory/exposition in bits and spurts when necessary. Be brief. And especially with flash fiction, most of it can be cut. The first short story I ever had published in a magazine got cut from 29 pages to about 13. The editor said, This is a fantastic story, but the first half is all backstory, most of which is unnecessary. That was a lesson.
This might help re editing: https://michaelmohr.substack.com/p/how-to-get-the-most-from-your-book-281
‘Sincere American Writing’