A friend of mine and I were solving the problems of the world via protracted phone chat/bon bon eating marathon last week when the conversation turned to her work in progress. Her local critique group felt that she needed to front load more backstory. I cringed.
I hadn’t read her current project, but I’m not a fan of this strategy. When I’m reading a mystery or romantic suspense novel–and that’s the genre pool she and I read and write in–I want to experience the story through the close point of view of the main character. And I want the protagonist to reveal the story bit by bit, as she lives it–dances it–like a striptease.
If a striptease artist walked on stage fully naked, (or nekkid, as we say in the South, when one is unclothed and up to something) it would be something other than a striptease. Some may get their jollies this way–in states where this is legal–but not me.
I love the mystery, the suspense–the tease. I want to see the dancer all dolled-up in layers of clothes and accessories–fur, jewelry, hat, scarves, belt, gloves, high heels, skirt, jacket, blouse–you get the idea. Then, piece by piece, each article–each clue–is peeled away, revealing the next. The striptease is a long, sensual dance, an art form unto itself. Reveal too much too soon, and you ruin the dance for me. I don’t want to see the garter belt until the very end.
Y’all know we’re talking books here, right?
P.S. Mamma, I swear I’ve never seen a strip tease dance in my life. You well know I was raised better than that.