Sunday, January 13, 2013


Hi. My name is Laura. I used to think I was a Special Snowflake.


I've read all the writing advice on the entire planet (HYPERBOLE ALERT), but I still never realized how wrong I was about my own writing. Everyone will advise you never to put a backstory infodump in the first chapter of your novel. They say no one will ever find that information as interesting as you do. They warn it is one of the biggest turn-offs for readers, agents, and editors.


But...but...I write fantasy, which means I NEEDED to have a ton of backstory so my readers wouldn't be confused. They had to know how the world worked, right? What better way to introduce that world than with an interesting history. It's only a page or two, and it's FASCINATING!!! Right?



The only person who found my exposition of the history of my main character was ME.

The funny thing is, I NEVER wrote another opening like that for the sequels. When I started this series, I felt I needed to understand the history so I'd be able to write the novel in the first place. I wrote that chapter for myself. And I never realized how unnecessary any of it was.

There were so many beautiful lines. So many relevant tidbits. I never realized that I brought most of those bits up  later in the MS where they were actually relevant to the plot. They didn't need to live in a huge chunk of text in the first chapter.


I know now that I am not the Special Snowflake. I am NOT the exception to the rule.

I cringed and took a hatchet to chapter one, and I am SO GLAD I did.

Total cut: five pages. 1492 words.


I'd heard the phrase, "Murder your darlings!" I'd always thought that applied to someone else. I was stricken to think it could apply to me. But you know what? It's the best thing I've ever done for my writing.


  1. THIS IS SO TRUE AND I AM GLAD THAT YOU SEE THE LIGHT NOW. I had the same experience. It was kind of scarring, and like most scarring experiences, I am now better for it. Congrats. Onward!

  2. Oh my god - I cannot stop laughing at your first GIF. :)

  3. Guess who watches The IT Crowd?

    I have the opposite problem of not telling enough and leaving people confused.

  4. Congratulations on a successful exposition excavation! I hope to murder similar darlings in my own novel once I get to the rewrite. In every single chapter. Multiple times. (Die, darlings, die!)

    And, just for the hell of it, I'll kill off another character, too. I figure it'll either make the main characters' ordeal more stressful and compelling for readers, or it'll be fun. Either way, I win.

  5. This happened to me too (fellow fantasy writers unite!). I ended up scrapping the entire first chapter that took place in the fantasy world and started with my protagonist instead. Granted, I loved the old beginning, but for some it was too confusing, especially as far as who the real protag was. Painful, yes. But our stories become so much better due to this kind of feedback. Well done!

  6. I know better than to do that with my backstory, but I still struggle with graceful world-building without it. How do I tell people that X happened 6 years ago!? GAH!

    On an entirely unrelated note, here's how I feel about special snowflakes:

    We are both special and so absolutely not special. :)

  7. Yes!! Ever since I got this editing gig at a small indie publisher - I see it ALL. THE. TIME.

    Slash/slash/slash. Wow, do the authors get upset until I point out - you said the same thing here where it was relevant LOL

    And at the same time? I slashed, cut, chainsawed and used scalpel to those bloody info dumps of backstory. Ahhhh, much better...


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