A
disturbing trend has begun in the world of fiction. I have to admit that I do
not read much secular work, so the novels in which I have noted this newest
technique have all been in CBA.
Back
story is something every writer hears about. We’re told not to drop it into the
story in large chunks. We are taught to layer it into the story, use it to
provide twists and turns to a great novel, and never, ever do we dare to slam
our stories to a halt to jettison the poor reader back to the past.
I have spent
years learning to craft back story that does not stop the forward motion of my
novel. I work at layering in the details to surprise the reader. I do everything
possible to keep from pouring a bunch of back story information onto the
reader. I encourage all authors that I work with or teach to do the same. That’s
why this new trend is so disturbing to me.
What is
it that has me so bothered?
In
several recent novels, I have come across large chunks of italicized text.
Sometimes the entire chapter is italicized. It took only a second to realize
what was happening. The author was being lazy, the editor was allowing such
laziness, and the publisher, despite all of the advice to the contrary, went
back on years of teaching and allowed the stories to come to an abrupt start
and a drastic jump to the past. This new technique adds nothing to an author’s
work, but it takes much away from the story.
In all
instances, I refused to read the italicized text. I cringe at the over use of
internal monologue, and I shuddered at pages and pages of italicized back
story, as if the italics made the back story important enough to the story that
it could be dumped upon the reader.
It did
not. When I reached the end of each of the novels where this technique was
employed, I found that I did not miss one bit of the back story.
That in
and of itself is very telling to me.
I encourage
authors to learn the art of back story. Edit your novels to incorporate what
has been learned. Yes, back story is necessary, but the way it is presented can
make a vast difference in the way the story is shown.

Happy
editing.

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