I am writing Historical Fiction Novel.

A Reporter is interviewing a Centenarian who narrates the story.

The Centenarian's hobby is closely related the novel.

The throat-clearing also introduces two Characters who are tied to the story, even though they appear much later in the Novel.

How much throat-clearing is allowed? I got it down to 120 words.

  • 4
    I've never seen 'throat-clearing' used in this context – nothing beyond the sound: "ahem"…. Is this an idiom?
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 18:40
  • @wetcircuit Rule 2 of writermag.com/improve-your-writing/revision-grammar/…
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 19:35
  • 2
    I still don't know what you mean by "throat-clearing". Can you please explain what you mean? Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 3:05
  • @Marium I can see the phrase 'throat clearing' in Rule 2 of that article, but I don't think it's being used as a technical term. You might get better answers if you explain what you mean in your question :) Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 17:35
  • Also, what do you mean by 'allowed'? Allowed by whom? Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


I'm not quite sure what you mean by throat clearing. Based on the title, however, I'm assuming you mean introductory info-dumps, and am writing my answer based on that.

There is no hard rule for this that I know. Meaning, I'm not sure there's any official limit to how many introductory remarks you can add. The main concern is holding your reader's interest.

However, I would advise you to add as little introductory details as possible. Take out all the details that don't move the story forward, especially those that aren't relevant at the moment. Add those details later on, when they do become relevant. Try to add them as part of the story, and not as "throat clearing".

I'd also advise you to make sure the "throat clearing" doesn't make the story boring. Read over your interview and revise it until you find it interesting. Then, get a few people to read over your draft and ask them if they think you added too many introductory remarks. This is the best way to know if your added too many details, since your main concern is holding your readers' interest. If your readers find it interesting, you're good to go. Otherwise, revise your interview until they do.


"Show, don't tell!"

It's always a good idea to show who your character is through their actions and dialogue. This way, there's no separation between "introducing the character" and "telling the story". It could be said that story is character.

Instead of telling the reader what the Centenarian's hobby is, why not show the hobby in action? If the hobby is important to the story, this could be a great way to introduce the character.

An interview can work to provide exposition, but be careful not to just dump information. A reader usually won't care yet - in general, they're looking for a story, not a textbook.

It's often a good idea to open a novel by demonstrating the main character in their normal state. This way, when you start to shake up their world, it's even more interesting because of the contrast you've created. How long should you spend doing this? As long as it takes for the reader to grasp who your character is. Make us care!

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