As an editor, I get to bear witness to all kinds of writing pitfalls. (In fact, I have a post series dedicated to that planned for the near future.) But one of the most prevalent, by far, revolves around divulging exposition — especially of the backstory variety. There are varying degrees of offense, but my personal favorite (and by “favorite”, I really mean eye-roll inducing, hair-pulling, editing nightmare) is when writers feel the need to divulge a character’s entire, complicated life story in the first chapter. Why is that bad? Well, think of it like this: your first chapter is the reader’s introduction to your character. So in real life, it would be like meeting someone for the first time and having them word vomit their life story all over you. What kind of impression does that leave? Yeah, I bet you’d avoid that person like the plague after that.
I can already hear the murmurs of confusion and disagreement.
“But, we have to make sure our characters feel well-rounded and real,” you say, “We don’t want them to feel like cardboard cut-outs or Mary Sues.”
You’re 100% right. But you can do that without resorting to the word vomit introduction. How? Well, that’s what I’m here to show you.
Read the rest of the article, including Kisa’s tips for writing characters.