Ten Things I Hate About Your Backstory
1. Are We There Yet? -- you've spent the first three to five chapters of the novel telling me your backstory in passive-voice narrative. I am now so well-prepped and bored that I'm being courted to run Vassar.
2. Cloak and Dagger, the Evil Overlord Version -- your backstory features an epic Bad Guy figure herding surly, colorful underworld characters, all of whom speak in perfect Villainese and could comfortably replace the characters in any James Bond 007 movie.
3. Cloak and Dagger, the Lightweight Version -- your backstory features a shadowy intelligence figure doing something top secret yet so obvious that your plot would be a mystery only to the likes of Shaggy and Scooby-Do.
4. Cloak and Dagger, the Romantic Version -- your backstory sounds ominous, to third graders, anyway, but its only real purpose is to provide an irresistible motivation for the two main characters to repeatedly have sex with each other, preferably in unlikely, semi-public places.
5. Fear the Reaper -- in a clever attempt not to reveal the identity of the antagonist/killer/bad guy, in your backstory you only referred to them as Death. P.S., Death called, and he'd like you to stop blaming him for all the bad things that happen in your story. It's upsetting his mother and she's nagging him to go into telemarketing instead.
6. Huh? -- you've recounted at least three events in your backstory that, while beautifully written and very hip and literary-sounding, have absolutely nothing to do with the story whatsoever.
7. Retrospect Minus Sominex -- you illustrate your backstory via a character who tosses and turns in bed, gets up, goes to the kitchen for a drink, and then sits down at the kitchen table and reflects on everything you need the reader to know. Because of course this is what we all do when we can't sleep.
8. RIP, Not -- you arbitrarily kill off a character who in reality would have made a better protagonist than the one whom their senseless death scars for life.
9. The Letter -- Dear Writer, Hello, how are you? I am fine. Well, not counting the tiny extra head growing out of my shoulder, but random mutations, what can you do? I just wanted to let you know that the next time you start a novel with a letter that was written solely for the purpose of telling me your backstory, I'm going to write you another letter. And it won't be as courteous as this one. Love, PBW.
10. Umbrellage -- As always, I appreciate the lengthy and entirely unnecessary weather report framing your backstory, but I do believe that the rainstorm and lightning flashback has officially been done to death. Please pick another climate event.
What are some of your backstory gripes?