There is nothing more boring than reading a ton of backstory crammed into scene after scene in a book. At least for me, now don’t get me wrong, I’m interested in the character’s motives, why she might hate men in general. Or why he hates women, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do the backstory.
Here’s the brutal truth, your readers don’t care why your main character Matilda hates polka dot dresses or doesn’t eat banana splits. And they don’t want to hear about it, ever. The just want to know when the action is going to start. And they want you to keep it going. If in the middle of the action you put these boring facts, you are quickly going to lose readers and book sales.
So, what do you do about the backstory, especially since every character has one? Here are three ideas for what to do about backstory.
Don’t add in any backstory and instead keep the action going. Resist the urge to write up long character bios before you begin writing your book. While it is important to keep track of important facts such as Matilda having melting brown eyes and fiery red hair, why she hates polka dotted dresses really isn’t crucial to the story most likely. Instead, keep a word document for each character that has the crucial details such as description for example and leave the rest of it out. Your readers will thank you for it.
2. Use flashbacks!
If you feel or believe that some portion of your character’s backstory is crucial to understanding the character’s motivation, then consider at some point inserting a flashback.
Flashbacks are a great way to show a character’s motivation without doing a bunch of explaining inside of the actual scenes in your book. However, use this tip sparingly, if you overuse it, it is just as bad as fluffing up scenes with two much backstory.
3. Use revealing dialogue!
To share information about a character’s backstory with your readers, get him or her to talk about it with some other characters.
Want your readers to understand why a character feels a certain way based on something that happened to them in the past? Have your character have a conversation with another character about it. As with flashback, use this technique sparingly or it comes off to readers as too much explaining of the backstory.
As an author, I would say that killing backstory is always best. However, if you must add some, and you use the two other techniques I mentioned, sparingly, you will be able to add a little backstory for your readers, and you’ll satisfy the backstory monkey on your back that keeps itching to add even more backstory!
Want an example of how you could do that?
Who’s the New Manager?
Full Chapter One
Stepping into the new club’s location in Seattle’s Queen Anne district, Lilly paused on the threshold to get the feel of the place. “Long time no see.” Then went to the bar counter.
“From Halloween ‘till after Easter!” The handsome young man grinned broadly before wiping another glass. “Who’d have thought it would take Kelso so long to open at the new location?”
The bartender was tall, with a mass of light-brown hair that shone every time it caught the glitters from the crystals lined up in a shelf above the sink.
“You know he had no choice. Not after the fire…” One giant inferno was more like it. “Wiped out his old place.” And on Halloween night, too.
“Kelso was lucky no one died on his hands.” Joe sounded bitter. “Or he’d have never gotten permission to reopen.”
“But he had to change neighborhood.” From Capitol Hill to Queen Anne—it was quite a move. “And name.” She remembered seeing a different one above the front entrance. “It’s not the Reckless Dom. It’s…” Only now she couldn’t quite remember what it was.
“We’re The Dungeon now.” From Joe’s assured tone, Lilly knew he liked the new name.
Then again, it couldn’t have been more appropriate. Dark, murky, sinister—the place already looked Count of Monte Cristo style, straight out of Victor Hugo’s famous prison tale.
The Bastille also came to mind, the place where Louis XIV jailed his opponents, then threw away the key.
At The Dungeon modern-day club, small gray bricks made up the walls, with attachments for shackles positioned every few feet at varying heights. It was so impressively similar to those medieval detention centers that the walls gave the sensation of exuding non-existent humidity. Just like in a French stronghold. Torches furthered the illusion, also ‘cause illumination was too low to tell the difference. At least until someone turned it up all at once.
Shifting her gaze, Lilly noticed an elegant archway separating the bar and entrance from the large play chamber, where a couple of housekeepers were giving the finishing touches. “It’s twice the size of what the other was.”
With lights fully on, it didn’t give the impression the name suggested. Still, The Dungeon Club was pure BDSM. No doubts about it.
“Yeah, and better equipped, too.” Joe glanced at the huge floor.
There was plenty of space for members to play their scenes. And for everybody to watch from the couches and private spots, which looked a lot cozier than in the last location.
“Now we got the Pen, too.”
“The Pen?” Puzzled, Lilly followed Joe’s gaze to the opposite side of the chamber.
A Saint Andrew’s cross. A sling. A metal cage. A restraint system for crouching positions. A more rudimentary one for lying positions. Also smotherboxes and queening chairs for long sittings of Dom’s oral stimulation. Plenty of chains and shackles to strap subs in. Not to mention an abundance of ceiling hooks. And of toys lying on a very long table to a side.
“You mean that area over there?” She indicated the array of furniture, gadgets and toys.
“Yeah.” Joe nodded. “That will make The Dungeon Club really famous.”
“Why, isn’t it already?” To her knowledge, Kelso’s establishments had the best reputation in the Seattle area. “Does it still have the private rooms, too?”
Those really paid off the club’s expenses.
“Absolutely.” Joe’s dark eyes gleamed. “Only now they’re all on the second floor.”
“There’s a second floor?” Where?
“Above the archway, going up the two stairwells.”
Lilly had to get closer. “These you mean?” The entrance to the two flights of stairs blended so perfectly with the rest of the arch. They were practically undetectable.
“Those take you upstairs.” Joe continued with his task of getting his bar ready for the coming customers. “If you go into the chamber and look up, you’ll see them clearly.”
So Lilly stepped through the archway and tilted up her head.
On the upstairs gallery surrounding the main floor, the private rooms were behind a mid-height railing. People upstairs could watch the scenes below, including those in the Pen. In turn, those downstairs could get a good look at the private rooms, if the doors were left open.
“Neat.” Lilly retraced her steps to the bar counter. “I suppose all the rooms are like they were in our previous location.”
“Actually, there are more of them.”
“Including the Black Room?” A shiver ran down her spine.
She couldn’t help it.
“Yep, the Halloween Room is up there.” Joe seemed indifferent to it. “And it’s the largest one by far.” He grinned. “Wonder if they’ll open it up now for the grand opening.”
“You know it’s strictly used on Halloween.” Must be why it gives me the creeps.
“Maybe you’re right.” Joe had the cutest smile Lilly had ever seen. “We have enough to keep people entertained till the wee hours of the night anyway.” He sent her an appreciative glance. “And the prettiest slave ever.”
Compliments were one thing she had missed.
Besides the money that is.
“Must be ‘cause I’m real glad to be back on the job.” She gave a quick look around. “Where are the other slave girls by the way?”
“You’re the first one here, Lilly-baby.” Joe gestured aimlessly in midair as though to emphasize they were alone.
She shrugged. “Have to admit I missed them.” Couldn’t avoid it. “I kept in touch with most of them.” They had grown on her. “Only couldn’t get a hold of Christine or Kerry.”
Funny—last time she had seen them was on Halloween.
“Would you happen to know what happened to them?”
“I heard they moved away.” He frowned, as if he wasn’t too sure about it. “You know this job isn’t for everyone,” he added philosophically.
“It’s just perfect for me.”
Yes, she was a bondage slave for hire. And damn proud of it, too.
“All the other jobs I tried were just…boring in comparison.” Also those she had taken on after getting her college degree. “I mean keeping regular business hours can really get one depressed after a while.”
So she had always returned to the club. For thank God, Kelso, the owner and manager, always took her back.
“You ought to know.” Joe bent behind the counter. “I think you’ve been here the longest.” On straightening, he held a couple of scotch bottles.
“Seven years, off and on. I started it to pay off the last years of college.” Let’s say my father’s suicide and my mom going broke didn’t leave me much choice.
“Then I tried quitting, but…” She lifted a shoulder helplessly. “Couldn’t. It’s too much fun.”
What actually kept her tied to the club, in a literal sense, was the hope of finding a Master. A true Dom. Not one of those who used the name without the balls or the imagination to back it up. One who read her deep-rooted need for submission. For true domination. Not for play. Not for game. For life.
It couldn’t be just anyone. It had to be a Master she could consider worthy of her services. Someone who managed to earn her obedience. Her pleasure, mostly. That blissful moment when her body took complete control of her and soared in spite—or because—of the pain and humiliations.
“I totally understand.” Again, Joe’s lips curved in the most enchanting smile. “And with this new place, with all the extra space, toys and stuff, it’s gonna be so much better.”
“Must’ve cost Kelso a fortune.” She gave one more look around.
“That’s an understatement.” He lowered his voice a notch. “It cost so much Kelso had to take on a partner.”
“Really?” Suddenly curious, she leaned on the counter. “Who?”
“Never met the man, but he’s our new manager starting today, or so I heard.”
“Great!” Lilly scoffed. “That’s all we need—a manager breathing down our necks!”
Joe smirked. “Actually, he’s more than a manager—”
“Good evening, everyone.” A young man walked through the front entrance. “I’m Anthony.”
Cute. Young. Blondish. Pale. Skinny. He looked more like a boy than a man, so Lilly wasn’t interested in him. Not at all.
“You must be Joe.”
Well, maybe not as young as she took him to be. Anthony’s voice placed him more in the thirty-something-year-old than her initial twenty-something assessment.
“That would be me, all right.”
The nice thing about Joe was that he was a likeable person all-around.
Anthony sent Lilly a nervous glance.
“Hi, I’m Lilly.” Which told her exactly where the young man stood with women in regards to sex. “Are you looking for someone in particular?” Still, it didn’t prevent her from trying to be helpful or accommodating.
“Yes.” Loosening up a bit, Anthony flashed a grateful smile as he approached her and the bar counter. “I’m looking for Terry.”
“Who’s Terry?” At a loss, Lilly switched her focus on Joe, expecting an answer.
And pretending he was busy arranging liquor bottles next to a small sink wasn’t an acceptable excuse for failing to reply.
“Terry is Kelso’s new partner.” So Joe relented and swung around to face her. “The one I was telling you about.”
“Good evening.” In advanced another young man. “I’m Mark.”
This one had darker hair. Otherwise, the type was like Anthony. Both too young for Lilly’s tastes. Too inexperienced and submissive to be her Dom.
“I’m looking for Terry…” Mark’s voice trailed off while searching Joe’s face.
“Hi, everyone.” A chirping voice behind Mark introduced a nice brunette, a woman Lilly had never seen before. “I’m Kellie.” She hastened toward the bar counter. “Would any of you happen to know where I can find Terry?”
Before anyone could give her a useful feedback, a dark-haired petite woman entered, and Lilly breathed easier at the sight of at least one familiar face.
“Jos!” Relief spreading through her limbs, she rushed up to her friend. “How glad am I to see you!” She embraced the woman. “I was beginning to think I’d have to work alone tonight or with…” A newcomer. “Her.”
Lilly decided to leave it simple, though the men puzzled her for the club had never hired male slaves before. She just angled her head toward the three crowding the club’s bar.
“Oh.” Josie, instead, seemed interested. “Are there new slaves to work with?” Her eyes flashed as her voice lowered to an excited whisper. “The men, too?”
Lilly heaved her disapproval. “I wouldn’t know—”
“Must be.” Having obviously made up her mind about it, Josie scrutinized the latest arrivals. “Since Christine and Kerry decided to quit—”
“So they did.” Then it was official. “But why don’t they answer their cells anymore?”
It was the oddest aspect of it all. To think how many times Lilly had dialed their numbers without any success.
“Paula told me they probably changed their numbers and didn’t want any of us to have it.” Josie sounded so reassuring. “Makes sense, if you think about it.”
Lilly didn’t buy it.
“If you want to change life, you’re not gonna want to have anything to do with your old colleagues.” Josie insisted. “Particularly considering our…hem…line of work.” She blushed deeply, still having trouble accepting what she did for a living. “They must’ve found some better job or met some rich guy during the Halloween party who must’ve turned their lives around.” Forever the romantic, her eyes warmed at the thought. “Remember how depressed they were they couldn’t get a decent man?”
As if one could ever find a decent man in a BDSM club.
“Yeah, and that’s my point.”
That Christine and Kerry were fools was something Lilly knew wouldn’t affect Josie’s goodhearted beliefs.
“If they found something better, wouldn’t they have called to brag about it?” Lilly had no doubt they would have rubbed their ex-colleagues’ nose in their good fortune.
She would have, had she been in their position.
“Good evening, everyone.”
As if it wasn’t enough, a new face appeared from around the threshold. Another slim, young, cute, non-Dom, all-sub type like the other two.
“I’m Justin.” He paused a moment to nod to the people present before stepping forward. “And I’m looking for Terry.”
“Aren’t we all?” Joe chuckled sarcastically.
The barman’s ironic musing would’ve made Lilly giggle had the situation not irritated her. “Joe, I don’t get it. Run it by me again—who the fuck is Terry?”
“I’m Terry.” The deep male voice behind her startled Lilly.
So she spun around.
And her mouth fell open.
She couldn’t believe her eyes. Or her senses, either.
It wasn’t so much the man’s looks, which were stunning for sure.
Such unbearably tall frame. With impossibly broad shoulders and chest. Incredibly toned and sculptured muscles, perfectly worked out without the exaggerated bodybuilding veneer. Not to mention his thin waist and elegant legs that made his stride forward more similar to a feline’s prowl.
Was it his heart-stopping face that drained the air from her lungs?
His regular features set off by cruel lips, straight nose, square jaw, strong chin.
Most probably it was his insufferably arresting steel-gray eyes that seemed to read right through her. And taunt her for it.
So she averted her gaze only to fix it on his long curly hair. So long she guessed they’d reach his ass, however distant it was from his head. So tight the curls they made for a huge twisting mass that would get anyone’s hand—not just Lilly’s—lost in the raking.
But what came off him with an intensity Lilly couldn’t ignore had nothing to do with any of his physical traits, however mouthwatering they all were.
What came off him was—Domination. Mastery. Control.
He oozed it in such quantities she’d have dropped on her knees and adored him like a pagan would her gods.
This man certainly knew the art of commanding and getting submission. Of giving orders and receiving compliance.
No incompetent or fumbling fool.
This man looked like he knew exactly what he was doing. Always.
This man would certainly earn anyone’s respect with a few glances.
It was enough to see how those cold gray eyes were swallowing her up to know this man would make her proud to call him Master. If she bent to his will.
Funny thing about her and domination—every time she found a candidate even remotely fitting her Dom profile, she went all defiant and aggressive. As though he had to prove himself beyond the obvious. Already, she felt the hot surge of rebellion coursing through her veins. ‘Cause he kept looking at her as if he owned her.
“And I’m your new Master.” Terry spelled out the words carefully, his gaze still fixed on her alone.
Thus Lilly knew she was in deep, deep shit.