So this is a dystopian/science fiction blog for young adults. We talk about writing, the genre, philosophies, books, etc. I've been reading a lot of dystopian novels lately (and for a while). Sometimes when I go to star them on Goodreads, I'll get sucked into the reviews.
And something I've seen recently is readers commenting on the lack of backstory. Yeah, you read that right. The lack of backstory. They want to know at some point how the world evolved from our present state to the storyworld that exists in the book.
I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I think it's something the author knows--they have to know--and requires careful placement in the novel so readers can find out in an authentic way. But how to do it?
Here's my loose guide:
1. Drop us into the world in the first chapter, but make sure to slip in one-sentence explanations in the narrative. I think the best way to do this is to allow the MC have an opinion on the society. Or be in a heightened emotional state about the society. That can allow the reader to get a feel for the world quickly.
2. In the next several chapters, the MC could either conform to the laws of the new world, or defy them. Either way, the author has the opportunity to establish what goes in this society and what doesn't. Along the way, the author can slip in a sentence or two about the society that contributes to the transition, but without really divulging the whole story.
3. Later, when the MC is realizing things they didn't know about their society, carefully insert how the world we know evolved into the one in the book. Not pages and pages, because the reader already knows the laws and intricacies. They've been living it for hundreds of pages. Just a taste, a few sentences or paragraphs maybe, that give more detail of the journey from now to then.
What do you think? In the dystopian/futuristic books you've read, have you been satisfied with the amount of backstory? Have you found yourself wishing you knew more about the transition from this world to the storyworld?