TO backstory or not to backstory, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to assume the reader
will figure the character out through bits and pieces
Or to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous critique asking
“Why, why did you bore me so?”
To rush to fix a sea of troubles with a “kill your darlings” red pencil
Or perhaps a section break.
(Sorry, Bill. Frustrated with a rewrite that cut too much.)
In our Zoom critique session this morning, we of Crème de la Crime got into a discussion of when to show and action or emotion and when to tell.
The oft-repeated direction is ‘show, don’t tell.’ Like any rule, particularly any rule in writing, it’s made to be broken.
Show is usually better. More action, and it calls on the reader’s imagination, which we authors hope draws the reader into the story.
As our member Karl pointed out, sometimes it takes a paragraph of show to carry out what a sentence of tell can do.
In the end, Greg rewrote the Serenity Prayer thusly:
God, grant me the focus to show when it's warranted,
the brevity to tell when appropriate,
and the wisdom the know the difference.