What to Do About Back Story

For some odd reason I’ve found myself editing one of my old novels lately. I guess it’s time to actually finish something.

But I’m stuck.

My story is full of back story. It’s probably half back story. The main character is fixated on what happened in the past, so there’s a lot of talking about the past. However, popular writing wisdom says not to dump lots of back story on your readers in the beginning. I love the first couple chapters, but they were specifically engineered to efficiently dump back story. That’s strike one.

I also introduce a new character in the each of the first two chapters, a character that’s less than minor and plays no significant role in the story. In a short novel it seems ridiculous to start out with characters that don’t matter. Strike two.

So I’m stuck.

Do I give in and just let the story start with lots of back story? It has to come in sooner or later, so as long as the story keeps moving and we’re not stuck in flashback mode forever that’s OK, right?

And what about the characters? Should I ditch these minor characters and find a way to introduce the story with characters that actually matter? Or am I worrying too much and should just use these characters for what they’re for? Use ’em and lose ’em?

Clearly I’m thinking too much and just need to vent. But if any readers out there have opinions, I’d gladly hear them.

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