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Okay, for all three or four of you who read my blog, I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted. I’m offering up two excuses.

1. Revisions, revisions.

2. Life gets in the way.

Over the past couple months, the number of words I’ve trimmed from my manuscript equaled the word count of a category romance or a short novella. Unfortunately for me, I write like I talk.

In a previous life, I was required to talk or rather schmooze on the phone with customers. While the customers didn’t always buy what I was selling, they said I gave good phone. I was personable, made them laugh by sharing tidbits about my life and family. In writer-speak, that’s called weaving in the backstory.

Most of what I’ve cut in the manuscript included internal thoughts, which I converted into dialogue. Some writers love long descriptions; I’m enamored with backstory. In my defense, that means I know my characters inside out.

* I know their food phobias.

* I know their hated childhood nicknames.

* I know how many boxes of cookies they sold as a Girl Scout.

This information gets fleshed out in the extensive character sketches I write for each of them. (Yep, another favorite pastime of mine.)

I know their parents’ story, their grandparents’ story. I could write a separate book on how a character’s great-grandfather arrived in America, on the HMS Aardvaark in steerage, with three days worth of stale biscuits in his pocket and without a cent to his name. 

Why do I love backstory? I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been interested in learning about someone’s family history. A deeper, more troubling aspect, points to my neurotic tendencies is as a kid. I read all of the Beverly Cleary books and wondered why Henry, Beezus and Ramona never used the bathroom. I can’t tell you how much that bothered me. (I’ll admit, it still bothers me to a degree.)

While Ms. Cleary’s character’s bathroom habits weren’t pertinent to the story, my seven-year-old mind wanted to know. The need for unnecessary information has plagued me my entire life.  And now, it’s seeped into my writing. But after the some heavy lifting in the revision on book one, I’m showing remarkable restraint in book two.

Before I forget, I’d like to offer a big HOO-YAH to my terrific CP and friend Becke Martin for completing her book, “The Goddess of Michigan Avenue”. Becke clocked in at 101,500 words. Becke claims a nice cup of tea helped her across the finish line, but I suspect she wasn’t sipping Earl Grey. 

So, what about you? Do you slather on the backstory like a thick coating of chocolate buttercream or do you just dip your finger in the bowl of frosting?


This week on Romance University…   www.romanceuniversity.org

Weekly Lecture Schedule for July 11-July 15, 2011 

Take a break from summer’s heat – join us as two authors and a literary agent share their expertise this week at ROMANCE UNIVERSITY.

Mon, 7/11 – It’s a Series Business – Author MISTY EVANS blogs about three types of series http://www.readmistyevans.com/

Wed, 7/13 – Sara Megibow Sells Romance – SARA MEGIBOW of Nelson Literary Agency shares her secrets on how to sell romance http://www.nelsonagency.com/staff.html

Fri, 7/15 – Screams and Broken Trampolines – Author TONYA KAPPES gives us the lowdown on her writing process http://tonyakappes.com/

All Romance University lectures are generously provided by our Visiting Professors. RU is a tuition-free zone!

Best regards,

Jennifer Tanner, Becke Martin Davis, Adrienne Giordano, Robin Covington, Tracey Devlyn, Kelsey Browning and Carrie Spencer