One of my favorite romantic comedy's is How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. It's brillant on so many levels, but this time when I watched I came at with a writer's eye. I just finished judging contest entries. Out of the five I read, two started in the right place. One writer had minimal backstory and infodump. I love him/her for it. But as the opening scenes of How To opened I realized this movie did the same thing.
Yes, the little magazines float by and you see snippets of her acting out the research for her articles. Yet in the first ten minutes you know the goal, the motivation, and the conflict on the horizon.
Now I'm not saying being succint is best for every story. Some need to start slow. Like Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. With the writer's eye I can tell you the NOW story doesn't start until the very bottom of page two. But up until that point she's building you up for the rest of story. The tone. The underlining conflict. Heck, characterization and understanding how the character ticks. For the life of me I can't see how she could have grabbed me with "Burt had his feet propped up on my battered coffee table...." VS. "There are Gods in Alabama..." *Now if you haven't read this book please do. It's a book that I wish deep down in my writer's bones that I wrote. That some good writing.*
Now what am I really saying?
Don't think your job is done once you've written a fabulous hook. Make me stay around for the story. You know how you can do that? By not boring me to death with backstory or infodump. Please I'm asking you as a reader. Just don't.
Am I guilty of this?
Of course and I'm not reformed. Yet. I'll just bore you with backstory later. Just not in the first chapter. I promise.