How Much Backstory to Add?

Whew! The crazy eight weeks of picking up Longhorns and Outlaws, doing the book tours, school visits, and author readings has come to an end. I can breathe again…

I’ll admit, however, that it does feel a little anti-climactic.

But the big “next” is returning to that sequel for Longhorns and Outlaws — Kidnapped by Outlaws. Putting my faith in the wisdom of the other dozen wonderful members of my writing group, the Children’s Writers’ Round Robin, I workshopped the first ten pages of the new book a few weeks ago.

And the golden nugget I found in the critique session was that just because you’re writing a sequel, or a series, doesn’t mean you have to summarize everything that’s just happened to your character. Really, your character had a past when you introduced him in the first book! So, you don’t have to do anything different than work in whatever backstory is required, the same as you did the first time.

I felt like somebody’d just turned on a lightbulb. Of course. Those ten pages I’d worked so hard to summarize the whole Longhorns and Outlaws novel were totally boring and not required. Just what the reader needs to know to jump into this adventure — being kidnapped by outlaws — that’s all those ten pages need to contain.

Well, now, I’m ready to get back to work on that sequel, and once again, give thanks for my writing group. They’re just so darned smart and insightful…

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