1. NeighborVoid
    Offline

    NeighborVoid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    237
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Planet Earth, Origin System

    Introducing lore without sounding like raw exposition?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by NeighborVoid, Dec 30, 2015.

    I'm having some trouble introducing lore naturally in dialogue.

    Context :
    A newly discovered exoplanet is being terraformed. During the terraforming process, some scientists discover remnants of an ancient civilization. Initially, they assume "Aliens!", but it is later revealed that the planet was previously inhabited by the human deities of ancient mythology (Zeus, Osiris, Vishnu, Santa Claus, etc.). All the religions of the old world are technological conspiracies, accounts of advanced technologies as seen through the eyes of a caveman. The exoplanet is the "heaven" that is referenced throughout the various religious texts. This specific detail is important for keeping with the theme of humanity's technological ascension into godhood and explaining why the planet is more capable of being terraformed than the others (Mars has small settlements, but cannot easily be turned into a second earth).

    How do I reveal through dialogue that the exoplanet is previously inhabited by a more advanced group of humans without it sounding like raw exposition?
     
  2. plothog
    Offline

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    England
    Does it need to be pure dialogue?

    Can you include bits of visual evidence and have characters speculate what it all means.

    Symbols that seem to point to Zeus, which they initially think is coincidence.
    Until they find start finding evidence that can't be dismissed.
    The Pearly gates of heaven.
    A well preserved Santa's Workshop etc.
    Show us the evidence that brings the scientists to their conclusions, rather than have the scientists give us a history lesson.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
  3. NeighborVoid
    Offline

    NeighborVoid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    237
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Planet Earth, Origin System
    It's a science fiction interpretation of fantasy/religious/surreal themes that leans more toward the gritty realistic side. The gods are only gods by name. Zeus is more like Nikola Tesla than a man who literally throws lighting across the sky. The civilization of the gods suffered economic collapse and ended in global biological and chemical warfare long before the development of modern english and the universal composite language that most people speak in the 23rd century.

    A tag-along history nerd notices that the writing on the walls bears a shocking resemblance to ancient greek, but that could also imply that aliens taught the greeks their language and the dialogue must ultimately end in a "everything we know about ancient religion is wrong" speech to clarify everything.
     
  4. DefinitelyMaybe
    Offline

    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2012
    Messages:
    866
    Likes Received:
    227
    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    This sounds like a good situation where a newbie archaeologist is being brought up to speed by an experienced hand. The dialogue/exposition doesn't have to go all one way, the newbie will have studied the situation before arriving, but may be moved to talk about things she/he sees, picks up, etc.

    What might add a bit of conflict is if there are competing theories about the planet. E.g. maybe one of the archaeologists (or anyone) doesn't believe that they are the Greek deities, and the other is arguing the case that they are. That would also work at any location, not just on the planet itself.

    A main character could be watching a debate on television (or whatever has succeeded it more likely) going over the different points of view. The internal dialogue of the MC may show what she/he thinks of the theories, introducing personal viewpoint.
     
  5. NeighborVoid
    Offline

    NeighborVoid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    237
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Planet Earth, Origin System
    One of the characters is a history nerd with a archaeology degree who tags along with the other two scientists because he can't get a job when everything on earth has already been dug up. The others often point out that his degree is useless until the discovery of the ancient civilization. However, this character is religious so he isn't quick to draw the conclusion of the technological conspiracy, and the scientists are futurists with no concern for history.

    The other characters are high-level corporate scientists who are mainly there to monopolize their findings. They aren't too open about sharing this with the public, although this is eventually leaked, causing a variety of societal effects that I have yet to develop. The exoplanet parallels US history with the discovery of new land, a war for independence from Earth, and a gold rush for ancient technology. So, bonus points if the idea has historical parallels.

    What I now struggle with is thinking about the possible society effects of such a revelation. World War 3 leaves around half of the population atheist and the other half christian. Would people start cults that worship technology like Fallout's brotherhood of steel, revive religions of the old gods, or simply deny the findings?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
  6. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,656
    Likes Received:
    5,136
    Are these discoveries your story, or your backstory? Like, at the start of the book, do characters already know all this stuff, or do they discover it as they go?

    If the latter, it's pretty simple - just have the narration describe what's being seen, and the dialogue find the meaning in it. That's pretty realistic, I'd say - archaeologists aren't silent about their discoveries, they discuss them and co-create meaning.

    If the former, I don't think your ideas are so complex that they can't be woven into the story pretty easily. I'd suggest doing it in snippets, and a mix of narration and dialogue. I have no idea what else is going on in your plot, but maybe something like:

    Will let his fingers hover just a couple centimeters from the intricate carving. "It's true," he whispered, then glanced toward Alice. "I mean, of course it's true. I always knew it was true, it's just--"

    "Different to actually see it for yourself," she said, and he was reassured by how hushed her own voice was, how wide her eyes were as she stared at the wall. They'd both known the ancient gods were actually humans, both studied the endless cycles of technological growth and then decay, but it was a different sort of knowledge, now.

    Will reached down and found Alice's hand, and for the first time in weeks she laced her fingers through his, then squeezed. "We're part of it all," she whispered. "It's happening again. But this time, we have a chance to stop it."
    Or whatever. You'd probably need more little hints than just that, but I think it's enough to get the general idea across. A mix of show and tell - always.
     
  7. NeighborVoid
    Offline

    NeighborVoid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    237
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Planet Earth, Origin System
    I am actually doing large-scale worldbuilding for a webcomic. Maybe for the parts that I can't reveal through dialogue, I can use a filler concept art piece with cryptic expository prose as the description.

    They're not archaeologists exploring the exoplanet with the intent of unearthing old tech. The two scientists are a plant biologist and an artificial intelligence engineer. They have no knowledge nor interest in history prior to stumbling across ancient technology. The only person in the group with extensive knowledge of history and mythology is the history nerd with a degree in archaeology. The plant biologist seeks technology out of personal greed and the AI engineer is helping for the good of the corporation (corporations work like extended families for profit).

    The plant biologist is an adamant antitheist who sarcastically mocks the history nerd's religious views with the phrase "Yeah, praise Zeus", so I guess there's precedent for an ironic revelation.

    There's multiple interconnected plots running simultaneously about transhumanism, AI, eugenics, socioeconomics, religion, terraforming and corporate warfare. Each plot is explored by different characters and it all ties together eventually. The research of ancient technology would affect every aspect of this speculative society from the military to common household conveniences.
     
  8. Tea@3
    Offline

    Tea@3 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    200
    Location:
    USA
    Good advice.
     
  9. Tea@3
    Offline

    Tea@3 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    200
    Location:
    USA
    In screenwriting we are forced to use 'devices' to deliver certain information that otherwise would come off very awkward. Some examples: a letter being read, a diary, a newspaper headline/article, a police report, an autopsy, a news reporter talking, an instructor teaching someone something, a scientific report, etc.

    These are rough examples but afford the opportunity to weave exposition into the narrative more seamlessly. I don't know if this will help you at all, but I thought I'd post it here. :)
     
    Feo Takahari likes this.

Share This Page