A friend of mine and I were solving the problems of the world via protracted phone chat/bon bon eating marathon last week when the conversation turned to her work in progress. Her local critique group felt that she needed to front load more backstory. I cringed.
I hadn't read her current project, but I'm not a fan of this strategy. When I'm reading a mystery or romantic suspense novel--and that's the genre pool she and I read and write in--I want to experience the story through the close point of view of the main character. And I want the protagonist to reveal the story bit by bit, as she lives it--dances it--like a striptease.
If a striptease artist walked on stage fully naked, (or nekkid, as we say in the South, when one is unclothed and up to something) it would be something other than a striptease. Some may get their jollies this way--in states where this is legal--but not me.
I love the mystery, the suspense--the tease. I want to see the dancer all dolled-up in layers of clothes and accessories--fur, jewelry, hat, scarves, belt, gloves, high heels, skirt, jacket, blouse--you get the idea. Then, piece by piece, each article--each clue--is peeled away, revealing the next. The striptease is a long, sensual dance, an art form unto itself. Reveal too much too soon, and you ruin the dance for me. I don't want to see the garter belt until the very end.
Y'all know we're talking books here, right?
P.S. Mamma, I swear I've never seen a strip tease dance in my life. You well know I was raised better than that.