How much backstory is too much?

Okay, so I have been pondering backstory quite a bit as of late. The reason? I am writing a series of books told by three young men’s perspective over the course of the same events. Each of them has their part of the tale to tell. That’s nothing new in and of itself, right? Yeah, well, not by me. So I’ve had to seriously contemplate the first novel told by that book’s protagonist. I am still in editing mode with that one – beta readers are taking a look at it and providing feedback. So that’s good.

But then the hubby said to me, “You know that what Elliot (my MC in the first novel) sees as important and memorable isn’t necessarily what Marco (his jock quarterback boyfriend) thinks is important, right?”

In some strange part of my psyche, I knew I knew this. Only I hadn’t really given it its due. Marco, the unwavering boyfriend, is his own person. I know this because I created him. But somehow as I was retelling the same story from his perspective, trying like hell to give him a platform to tell his part of the tale, I was somehow shortchanging his experiences and not giving a real look at how he looked at the exact same circumstances but from his life experience.

This should be automatic, right? Yeah, well, it was. Just not to the extent that he deserved. Good thing I am only two chapters into his book that I can regroup and massage it into a better narrative for him. He deserves it. For fuck’s sake he’s the rock in this relationship. His artsy geeky boyfriend is the one who keeps waffling all over the damned place. Not Marco. He’s as fucking solid as they come.

Which brings me to another point – in fiction (esp. queer fiction) I take a rather hard line that cum is different than come. Sure you say I am coming when the guy is getting off. But I would actually like the more porn iteration of the word (and all it’s implied variants) cum, cumming, came (okay, that one sorta breaks the mold). But CUM vs. COME is definitely on my target list. I prefer to use C-U-M as it is a bit raunchier and as a guy, that’s where I am. I like big ol’ messy man on man action. Boys like messy sex. It drives our passions. Cumming is the best fucking thing in the world for us (yeah, yeah, I am sure it is for the ladies when they can get it too. But I don’t write straight erotica so that’s off my radar here).

I am not a piggy sort of guy but I can certainly appreciate when guys get that way. I get it. I truly do. Marco and Elliot (in Angels of Mercy) are very into their form of rutting, cum soaked sex. They like it down and dirty. It’s what grounds them, keeps them bound to each other.

And ladies, don’t let any guy tell you he hasn’t tried to taste his spooge. He’s a fat fucking liar if he does. Every dude has tried it at least once. We’re boys, we can’t help ourselves. The gay dudes that are into it, fuck me, they can’t get enough. Cum dumpster high on the shit like its the best fucking crack around – which, I guess it is. I get that too. Doesn’t mean I wallow in it myself, but I get it. So do my boys.

So back to the backstory question I pose. Marco has quite a bit of backstory that colors his world, how he views it and why. When he (finally) finds the courage to ask Elliot out, he never wavers once he has him. Marco refuses to think of his world without Elliot now that he has him. He would literally tear the world apart to get him back if something ever came between them. Scary obsessive love, that’s the kind of love he brings to Elliot. Elliot doesn’t understand it. He can’t figure out how the hottest guy in their small Northern California town would even look his way let alone profess his everlasting love to him. It rattles his world, shakes it, turns it right-side up on him but he still doesn’t get it.

Marco tells him it ‘ain’t for you to get – it just is, and you better get used to it.’

Gayboys, especially the types who’ve been told they aren’t worthy of any kind of real love, that their perverse or monsters, often can’t handle love when its offered so willingly. Elliot waffles in the beginning because of this. Marco just overwhelms, he consumes and he is very fiery. Leaving Elliot stunned and bewildered and deeply loved. It scares him like no other.


This model has been my inspirational source for Elliot Donahey in my story.

This model has been my inspirational source for Elliot Donahey in my story.


So the first book covers that, with those exact lines from Marco’s mouth about it not being something for Elliot ‘to get.’ But what Marco has behind them is something Elliot can only guess at. Yet in volume 2 of my Angels series, we get to see why Marco tells him that his love for Elliot is weighted, it has history. For Marco, his love has gone on unrequited for two very long and scare filled years wondering if Elliot would even consider going out with him. Marco is a bonafide stud. Girls follow him around, guys try to emulate him, but Marco doesn’t really see that, doesn’t pay it much mind. All he can see is the out gay kid that nearly everyone picks on and, despite the macho air that billows in his wake, all he can feel is how frightened he is that Elliot would reject him. So he waits, he watches, he follows. Consumed by all things Elliot. Marco is right, for him, it does have history – two long years in high school where the bullied gay kid takes no notice of him – slinking from dark recess to dark recess trying to stay out of the limelight. And that is the problem. Marco is nothing but limelight. A great big shiny light.


And here's how I sort of see Marco Sforza (if a slight bit older than in the book).

And here’s how I sort of see Marco Sforza (if a slight bit older than in the book).


And when he thinks he finally has the courage to approach Elliot to just say ‘hey’ and see if he’ll talk to him, he over hears a brutal conversation where Elliot rails to one of his geeky friends about the jocks at school and uses Marco as the poster boy for all things terrible and wrong in his life – never knowing Marco is nearby – torn apart, shredded by the boy he loves but thinks he can now never have.

So, it’s weighted, it has history. For Marco, his backstory about this love for Elliot, how he comes back even stronger and more determined to change Elliot’s mind about what he thinks about him is what is so powerful in his story. My hope is to provide enough of that struggle, enough of his backstory from book one (told by his boyfriend) that we get a chance to see what it means for Marco to ‘man up’ and fight for the man he loves and put it all out there for Elliot to see.

Luckily for him, Elliot is swept off his feet.

Even Marco can’t believe he’s got what he’s always wanted either.

Of course, no one would read a story that was only sunshine and roses. So the boys go through some fairly terrible shit. That’s life. Happy as a clam then you’re eaten by a shark. That’s not to say they don’t get their Ever After, Happily. It’ll just take a heap load of crap to sort through to get there.

But at least my hubby gave me some things to mentally chew on. Marco’s highlights in his pursuit of Elliot are very different for him than that of his boyfriend. And even where they intersect, they have different weight for each. But I guess, as a writer, that’s where the fun comes in. Letting Marco explore what it all means for him. He’s got the boy that no one liked, but that boy was the only one he could see, the only one who mattered.

The only one who had his heart…

Love divine... (with Hottie McHottie - Anthony Romero (the smaller guy))

Love divine… (with Hottie McHottie – Anthony Romero (the smaller guy))


Backstory, it’s the colors we weave to make stories worth telling and for our readers, stories worth reading.

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