How Much is Too Much

In my first draft of River of January, I spent a lot of time explaining or telling about the historical backdrop of the book.  It was easy to do because I have been an American History teacher for thirty three years.  I felt I couldn’t tell enough about the impact of World War One on Americans, or how greed brought about the Crash of 1929.  It was boring.  One deadly, long, dreadful lecture.

Fast forward three years.  Since those early efforts the blah-blah factor has been chopped back significantly.  Still some nod to the era is needed to demonstrate how significant the achievements of Chum and Helen actually were.  For example, Chum burned to join the Navy in 1927, but he had no support from his extended family.  If I hadn’t explained the prejudices of the time, his difficulties enlisting would make no sense.

It was a tough pill to swallow when I realized my audience didn’t need to know everything I know.  Even more so, all that detail becomes tedious, I can hear a reader complain, –enough crap, get on with the story!  So I did.  But, without the historical background some of the episodes would be incomplete.  And some of the details are fascinating.