One of the tricky tasks an author has to manage is to tell those crucial bits of history a reader needs to sympathise with the hero or heroine, or despise the villain. But what to do? Hint and let the reader guess? Have the character explain themselves to another? Do a flashback in memory? Jump between present and past entirely?
All can work, or can be disastrous.
This week, on WIP Wednesday, I’m inviting you to post excerpts that carry your backstory. Mine is from A Raging Madness. Ella is telling Alex about her first marriage, which he had observed as a fellow officer.
He had seen the signs and ignored them, told himself that he had no right to interfere between husband and wife, told himself that she had made her bed and could lie in it. Arrogant, conceited pup. Twenty-one years old and full of his own pain. He hated that long-ago version of himself nearly as much as he hated Melville. Long ago? He had been believing lies against her as recently as two months ago.
“I often thought of sending him into the thick of battle, like David did to Uriah the Hittite. I should have done it.”
Ella, her eyes soft, reached up and kissed his chin. “Was I your Bathsheba then? I am flattered.”
“Always, Ella. My guilt made me cruel to you. I cannot tell you how sorry I am.”
Her eyes rounded and she shook her head. “No, Alex. You were always kind and polite. Distant. Disapproving sometimes. But I knew I could rely on you. I do not think I could have survived after Dadda died if not for you.” Her eyes filled with tears, and he bit back the self-recriminations. He did not deserve her praise, but nor was he selfish enough to deny the comfort her memories gave her in order to seek his own absolution.