Author Topic: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?  (Read 1526 times)

Offline Amanda George

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Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« on: October 08, 2011, 03:54:03 PM »
Evenin' all!

I'm thinking I'll have to put some back story into the next Toni novel that I'll be writing during NaNo in November but how much is too much and how much is not enough?  Is a chapter too much and a paragraph too little?  I've got ideas for the rest of the book, it's just the back story I'm pondering over right now!

I know that the ideal way to do it is to weave it in without making it an info-dump which I'll do as it happens, it's just the first chapter I'm pondering right now.

Do I start the book with back story in the first chapter then move on to the new story from chapter 2 onwards or do I sum up the whole of Toni's Flibble Wibble in a couple of paragraphs and move on from there?  Do I even put any back story in at all? ???

Thank you!

The Pest
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Money cannot buy happiness but somehow, it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz than it is on a bicycle.

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 04:02:43 PM »
No good answer for you I'm afraid.  :D You'll just have to fit it in where it naturally fits and as long as it needs to be.

Offline Amanda George

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2011, 05:45:22 PM »
No good answer for you I'm afraid.  :D You'll just have to fit it in where it naturally fits and as long as it needs to be.

That's what I was afraid of!  lol  Thank you 510!
There is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present (unknown)

Money cannot buy happiness but somehow, it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz than it is on a bicycle.

Silt

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2011, 06:24:27 PM »
Even back story should move your story forward. You can have small info dumps that can work better for your story. It is a bit of show/tell (sometimes Tell is the better way for it gets the data out quick so you can go back to your real story.

For example - If a person wanted to show a history of time/when things were different they need only 'set' an image so the reader has something to compare to the now.

ie

It had been twenty seasons since The Great Battle of Icain, where across Queen Darsel's Plain warriors of elves, orcs, dwarfs, humans and wraiths alike fought with swords, pickaxes, bows, arrows and slings against black magic magicians who hurled bolts of lightning hoping to claim our lands in one grand sweep.

*

This of course may have nothing to do with what you wanted to know. If so, ignore.


Offline Amanda George

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2011, 05:05:19 AM »
Thank you Silt!  I'm thinking a sentence for how each tween met Toni and why they were bullied (six sentences) then a new paragraph about Toni's dad being killed by a drunk driver, discovering Paganism and fostering Marcu then move on with the story so that in two paragraphs I've summed up 30k words without boring the readers... sound appropriate for 9-12 year olds?  :)
There is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present (unknown)

Money cannot buy happiness but somehow, it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz than it is on a bicycle.

Offline bonitakale

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2011, 10:25:23 AM »
I think it might help to imagine the backstory as part of the biography of your character. All characters have had a life before the book, but not all of it needs to be told. Does the reader need to know how the kids met, how someone discovered Paganism, etc? She starts the story as a girl with no father and these friends. You may get a good chance to put some of her background in later ("I hate drunk drivers!" Her hands shook as they often did when she thought of the drunk driver who had killed her father.)

But you may need less than you think, and you probably don't want to spoil the first book for the readers who have read the second.
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Offline Amanda George

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2011, 07:52:44 AM »
Good shout, Bonita!  Do you reckon I should just add in back story as it comes up then?  Not start with it, just mention that all the tweens were bullied for various reasons and that Marcu is Toni's foster sister or is even that little bit too much?  Should I just pick up where the first book left off?
There is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present (unknown)

Money cannot buy happiness but somehow, it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz than it is on a bicycle.

Offline bonitakale

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2011, 11:01:37 AM »
I'd put in as little as possible, but do what feels comfortable. You can always remove or add it later.

Not knowing the story, I'd guess that you need to say Maru is Toni's foster sister, because otherwise, readers will wonder why you hid it. But if they all have been bullied, can that come later--perhaps when the effects of the bullying become clear? Something happens and they look at one another -- "They all knew what it was to be bullied."

But perhaps it should be right there at the beginning, that this is a group of kids who have been bullied, without necessarily telling how, but mentioning that this is what they have in common. Depends on where the story's going, whether that really matters, or whether it's just like the crew of the Enterprise--you don't wonder where they all came from, they're just there.
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Offline Amanda George

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2011, 02:53:00 PM »
Thank you Bonita!  I'm hoping to touch on a few things that don't seem to be talked about in tween fiction (bullying, death of a parent, going to "big school", being fostered, puberty etc) and maybe divorce and/or homosexuality will come into it in this book too... I just want tweens to feel like they are cared about and that they aren't alone!  :)
There is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present (unknown)

Money cannot buy happiness but somehow, it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz than it is on a bicycle.

Offline McNeill

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 07:06:54 AM »
Just my personal opinion that backstory should be told in layers. The reader is given enough to be happy and you slowly reveal more, subtly weaving it in. Although, tweens aren't the most descerning of readers, but whatever works. Best of luck.  :)

Offline Amanda George

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Re: Back story - how much is too much in a tween novel?
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 08:28:34 AM »
Thank you McNeill! This is the first time I've ever written a series!  lol
There is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present (unknown)

Money cannot buy happiness but somehow, it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz than it is on a bicycle.