I like the idea of letting the reader discover the back story as the book progresses. For example, I’m currently reading Hello, Summer by Mary K. Andrews. After her job in Washington D.C. disappears, an award-winning journalist is compelled to return to her small hometown in Florida and work in her family’s newspaper after so many years away. Why did she leave her hometown? I get the feeling it’s not because she wanted a higher-paying job. Will just have to find out.
But in some instances, providing the back story at once is necessary. Take, for example, the prolog of my latest book, The Red Dress. My main character, Eve, ends up telling her college roommate, Charlene, the history behind the red dress she keeps in the back of her closet, a dress she hasn’t worn since her disastrous prom night. Charlene is someone who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and she wants that dress. In the following excerpt, I’m providing the full back story to emphasize Charlene’s selfishness. This will be important later in the book.
Eve found herself blurting it all out.
“Mom made that dress for my senior prom. I had a date with Trent Boyer, the cutest boy in school. He was the captain of the football team, and I loved watching him play.”
“Wow, just like Alex.”
“Yeah. Well, at the prom, we danced to that song, and I felt like I truly loved him, and I thought he loved me. Afterwards, he said he had to use the restroom. Other boys asked me to dance, and I got to talking with my friends, and when I looked around the gym later, I couldn’t find him. I asked my friends if they’d seen him, and they just shook their heads.”
“Like I said, I thought he loved me. I didn’t think he’d leave me. I decided to go out to the parking lot to see if his car was still there. He’d dropped me off at the entrance, so I didn’t know where he’d parked. It took me a while to find his car, but I did, in a dark corner up against the fence by the football field. I looked in the window and saw two figures in the back seat.”
“Oh, my God.”
“I thought I was imagining things. I was on the driver’s side, so I opened that door, and of course the light came on, and there they were, Trent and my best friend, Adele Matthews. Or at least I thought she was my best friend.”
Eve paused to fight back more tears, and Charlene asked, “Were they actually having sex, or were they just necking?”
“They were totally naked. Of course they stopped when I opened the door, and they both looked at me like I was from another planet or something. I said a few choice words I’d learned from my dad, then slammed the door and ran back into the building.”
“Good for you.”
“I went to the restroom and cried my eyes out. Fortunately, no one was there. Then I washed my face and put on more makeup so I wouldn’t look as if I’d been crying. I went to the pay phone in the hall near the main office and called home. Mom answered, and she could tell something was wrong, so she came and picked me up.”
“I’ll bet you didn’t want to go back to school after that.”
“I didn’t, but Mom and Dad said it wouldn’t do any good to hide from my problems. I had to face them head on.”
“What did you do when you saw Trent and Adele at school?”
“I didn’t speak to them, and they never spoke to me. Other kids knew, I think, but nobody said anything to me about it. Boy, was I glad a few weeks later, when graduation came.”
“I’ll bet. Have you heard from Adele or Trent since then?”
“No. Adele was planning to come here with me and major in drama, like you, but I heard that Trent got her pregnant, and they ran off to Las Vegas to get married.”
“So why did you bring that dress with you?”
“Mom insisted I take it in case there was something formal here.”
“Like the homecoming dance.”
“I’m not going to the dance. You can borrow the dress if you want.”
“You know, I can see why you put this dress off to one side. It’s only hurting you now. Let me take it off your hands. You don’t need it anymore.”
“But my mother made it. Of course I wanted a store–bought dress, but she wanted to save money and make me one. She worked long days at her job as director of the public library. There were only two weeks left until the prom when I told her I wanted a new dress, so she stayed up nights and scrambled to get it done.”
“Oh, you poor, homesick baby. Now you miss your mommy, who made this beautiful dress for you. Are you gonna cry now? Go ahead, crybaby. Cry.”
Thanks to Stevie Turner’s Open Book Blog Hop for inspiring this. To participate and learn how other authors handle back story, click here.
By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.
New! The Red Dress
Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.
Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.