Friday, July 31, 2020

Too much information? by Priscilla Brown

She's lover shopping, but her new boss could never be the goods on her wish list.

For more information on Gina's story, and purchase details, visit

The brief response in regard to our daily lives, although of course individual, is possibly yes, too much information, what with the 24-hour news cycle, immediate internet including social media, and daily newspapers.

In fiction, how much information is enough? Characters have a life before they meet their fellow characters on the page; they have experiences, values, attitudes, beliefs to bring to their part in the plot. As author, the challenge is to establish these elements as adequate and appropriate for the characters' current life situations, without long explanations and descriptions,without unloading chunks of too much information. We need to show how these factors are relevant to what our characters do and to what they say, so the reader can understand where they are coming from.

I write contemporary romance, and before I start a draft, I have ideas in my head about the main characters. I imagine their pre-story life, their history which helps to delineate the persons they are when the story opens. I always know far more of this "backstory" than goes into the final narrative, and have to discipline myself to avoid this information dump. Years ago, in my first attempt at full-length romantic fiction, I thought I had to include everything in my head, which resulted in a huge scrapheap of "stuff". The lead female character had had a colourful love life in various countries with a string of different partners, nothing of which had anything to do with the job for which she applied and achieved although she had few qualifications for it. So unappealing, and a ludicrous characterisation. Whatever was I thinking?

The story in hard copy lurked in a drawer for years. When I re-read it, I was appalled. All this entirely superfluous information not only did not move the story on but slowed it down. With about a third of the original plot skeleton remaining, several major re-writes resulted in a name change and appropriate professional and personal backstory for this woman, for the lead male character a more credible personal history, and the deletion of redundant secondary characters. There was more to go: at one stage I wrote a 300-word prologue,which I ditched on the advice of a critique partner, and incorporated the necessary information (some was irrelevant) via dialogue in the first chapter.

I learnt a lot (still learning!). The final word count shrank by half, and eventually this story became Class Act

Enjoy your reading. Priscilla.


  1. I think this may have happened to us all. I see it in so many new authors I critique their material. Keep writing


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