Distracting your reader while giving backstory, brilliant words by Susie Schnall

Susie Schnall doesn’t just write fiction (The Balance Project, On Grace.) She also writes for magazines and websites, mostly about family life, health, and wellness. Her writing has been published by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com, and others. So you can see why I’ve asked her to contribute to my “deleted scenes” blog. She’s also really sweet and has three kids and never seems to sleep and yet still manages to do all these things! One might say she has both grace and balance. Here’s how she distracts her readers while giving backstory:

1. Why did this sentence/paragraph/dialogue/page – or even character – need to be deleted/rewritten?

It was actually the whole first chapter of my second novel, The Balance Project. Originally as it was written, my narrator Lucy is watching her boss Katherine on The Today Show. My amazing editor, Beth Kendrick, thought that drew the focus away from Lucy and suggested I make her a more active part of the scene. “Give Lucy something to be working on or striving for in this chapter,” she told me. And she was 100% right. I rewrote the entire scene by giving Lucy an impossible task to finish before Katherine’s interview was over and it made the scene much more interesting. It also was a good example of “Pope in the Pool” (from Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat) as it distracted the reader while I was giving them backstory.

2. Whose idea was it to delete/rewrite it/them (agent, editor, spouse, dog)?

Editor, Beth Kendrick.

3. Did you cry when you deleted/rewrote it/them?

I didn’t cry while I rewrote it. But when I first received my developmental edit letter from Beth, it definitely gave me a stomach ache! Once I reread it a couple times, there was nothing in there that was too difficult to do. And all of Beth’s suggestions were spot on and improved the story.

4. Are you happy with the outcome?



About Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Jennifer Gooch Hummer is the award-winning author and screenwriter for her debut novel, GIRL UNMOORED. Raised in Boston, Jennifer graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in English and moved to Los Angeles where she read scripts for major talent agencies and production companies. A true believer in fairies, Jennifer currently lives in Southern California with her whistling husband, three teenage daughters, and two slightly neurotic rescue dogs. OPERATION TENLEY is the first book in the series, THE FAIR CITY FILES.
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One Response to Distracting your reader while giving backstory, brilliant words by Susie Schnall

  1. Susie Orman Schnall says:

    Thank you so much for including me in this great blog, Jennifer!! xo Susie

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