To Backstory Or Not To Backstory

Thursdays Bite

a blog to explain to readers

Like most authors, I struggle with reading my reviews. Do I want to know what people liked and disliked? Or maybe I don’t. If it’s a fabulous review, of course I want to read it. But, if it’s negative, especially if I feel like it’s undeserved, it can be rough reading.

Good reviews make me happy dance. Good reviews make me smile. Good reviews sell books. But bad reviews do everything you’d expect them to do—all the opposites. So why read them?

Well, sometimes they also show you your book’s weakness. When I write a book I have to make all kinds of decisions, and one of the decisions is how much backstory to include. That’s especially difficult if the book occurs at the same time as another book and the reader might be reading both books. (At least I’m hoping you’re reading both books.)

When someone reads the books in order, it works very well. They get all the backstory for book two from book one. So they don’t feel like they missed out. And when they get to book two? Well, they don’t feel like I’ve dumped loads of information they’ve already read into the book.

We’ve all read those books. The ones with pages and pages of what happened last time that, if you are really hooked, you just skip. But, if you are not hooked, it makes you put the book down. How much backstory belongs in a book? Too much, too little, just the right amount? How is an author to know?

In SILVER I cut an entire scene where she fights with her sister Scarlett. Why? because it was in Scarlett’s story and I assumed most readers would read books 1-4 and not just pick up book 5. Scarlett’s story is heavy on the sister relationships and covers it in detail, but, you don’t know that if you only read Silver. And that’s what some people do. Crazy, I know. Okay, I do that kind of thing all the time, pick up a series in the middle. But what were the odds that readers would stumble across a book that was so co-dependent with it’s sister book that they really are almost one long story?

In fact, I actually removed a lot of the sister story because my editor said it was repetitious and she was bored. I don’t want to bore readers with repeated story lines. Especially not the readers who are my fans and ARE reading the books in order. But maybe I cut too much?

So, back to those reviews. That’s where this type of issue shows up. I leave out some of the repeated scenes, and guess what, the reader who doesn’t read book #4 misses out when they jump straight to book #5. But do I go back and put in a scene just to show what happened? Do I info dump on the readers who did read the previous book? Do I take the review and fix the issue? Or do I just go on my merry way and keep writing new books and take that information into consideration for future books?

This is especially difficult because I tried something different with these two books. They run concurrently, so they are on the same time frame. I wrote them with the intention that you had to read both. It was an experiment. So, should authors experiment? Maybe that’s a topic for another blog.

Here’s what I’m considering. Not fixing the book. Okay, it’s an issue, but it would be a major rewrite to add in all the sister stuff, it’s already covered in the other book, and it would make it a full length book and not a novella.

BUT…

I still want to fix the issue. Because it is a legitimate complaint. Readers who pick up a book in the middle of a series definitely can expect to miss some backstory, but in this case, it may be a needed component. So I’m considering taking down the two books as separate published entities and only publishing them as an omnibus of books 4&5. That way all of the issues would be addressed in the same book.

In the meantime, the books are the way they are. But I’m thinking of adding to the warning that I put in the front of all of my fairytale books. What do you think of—

BEWARE: There is a serious lack of backstory ahead. If you want the backstory and know all about the relationship between Scarlett and Silver, read the book that comes before this.

And maybe, also addressing the issue in the letter in the back. I don’t want readers missing out on an important component of the story.

On the other hand, I’m knee deep in writing more books, so I also don’t want to take tons of time away from those. I want them to come out in a timely fashion. And I know most of you are waiting for the next one.

What do you think?

Should I squish them together into one book? Or, should I simply address it in the front and back of the book and let readers who pick up the book on it’s own know that they can find out all about the sister stuff in Scarlett? Leave me a comment and let me know your opinion.

Scarlett: A Sexy Shifter Fairytale Romance by Jessica AspenSilver: A Sexy Shifer Fairytale Romance by Jessica Aspen

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Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

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Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

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Filed under Sexy Shifter Fairytale Romance, Thursdays Bite, Writer's Journey, writing craft

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