1. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Is this too much of an info dump?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Robert_S, Mar 16, 2015.

    I've been working on this dialog for a day now.

    Almost the entire first half of the book is going to be memory recall or retelling of events by a reliable narrator, so this can be taken at face value.

    It's 10 Dec 2093. The two actors are part of a crew heading to Callisto. Their mission is to drop building supplies on the moon. They were told that the US and an ME nation have fired shots at each other, but war hasn't broken out yet.

    I'm trying to setup the story world and the current events for the main character to eventually take over (not the world, but the story and situation).

    This is all dialog, so there is character cues.
    -----------------------
    SUAREZ: I read an article by a social psychologist before we left Earth. He proposed the human race is destined to kill itself and render the Earth lifeless because we're incapable of moderating our ourselves.

    SUAREZ: Ever see a rhino or a tiger?

    WILEY: Only pictures.

    SUAREZ: We killed them off. We’re consuming our world and leaving nothing. We don’t have anything to keep us in check. When we find an obstacle, we overcome it, but we don’t balance it with the reason it was an obstacle. The oxygen content is one percent less than one hundred years ago, the temperature is one and a half degrees hotter from pollution, deforestation and overpopulation.

    SUAREZ: We can't even regulate our population. All other critters on the planet have natural predators that keep them in check, keep everything balanced so no one of them can overwhelm the environment, but we have none.

    WILEY: We have each other.

    SUAREZ: That's the problem he cited. We use war to keep each other in check, but now our weapons do serious damage to the environment. The real threat is not killing each other with weapons, but destroying our living space.

    SUAREZ: we're supposed to use reason, intelligence and diplomacy, but we don't. We use threat, subversion and war. We're so accustomed to using violence, that we're sure to kill ourselves off to the last.

    SUAREZ: Look at what we’re doing here now. We’re going to drop building supplies on a moon so isolated, the logistics won’t support it. Why?

    WILEY: You and I both know why. It’s a show.

    SUAREZ: Exactly. It has no real value. We’re wasting resources for a show.

    SUAREZ: He describes the difference between leading and dominating and what we practice is domination. Subverting rising cultures to maintain a place on top, even though we call it leading. The situation back home is getting worst. Two nuclear nations are becoming more hostile and the world is polarizing.

    WILEY: Yeah? What else did he say?

    SUAREZ: The Earth has maybe ten years left. I’m beginning to believe him.
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I don't know about 'info dump', but that sort of 'exposition through dialogue' doesn't work for me. Seems stilted and forced. Description is description and dialogue is dialogue. Each has its place, but they aren't interchangeable, I don't think.
     
  3. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    It is a graphic novel, so it won't have descriptions. It'll have pictures, but the current scene is away from Earth.

    However, the dialog must be interesting to read, so I'll look at rewriting if that is the case.

    Ok, rewrite to cut down:

    SUAREZ: I read an article by a social psychologist before we left Earth. He proposed the human race is destined to kill itself and render the Earth lifeless because we're incapable of moderating our ourselves.

    WILEY: I don’t think I want to hear this.

    SUAREZ: No problem.

    [time passes as they work]

    WILEY: Ok, what else did he say?

    SUAREZ: We’re approaching a breaking point. We have weapons that do too much damage to our environment and we’re still behaving like primates trying to dominate each other and wrecking our world in the process.

    WILEY: Sounds about right.

    SUAREZ: I mean, this mission doesn’t even make sense. We’re dropping building supplies on a moon too isolated for the logistics to support it.

    WILEY: Then why did you sign up?

    SUAREZ: I hoped big heads were right. That it would show we’re not afraid and get the Iranians to back down.

    SUAREZ: Do you think it could escalate to missiles?

    WILEY: I don’t know. I can’t see any of them being so stupid. Someone will back down.

    SUAREZ: I hope so, because that psychologist said we have at most ten years left.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I have a different take on this. I can't divorce my eye-rolling skepticism from the pure writing critique so take it with a grain of salt. This kind of exposé risks being cliché, a TEOTWAWKI trope. What would make it read better, be more interesting is if it were more realistic.

    To me, this just isn't credible. There are a thousand social scientists that would say this and a thousand that would disagree. And for your character to only know the issues because some social scientist said so? Was he born in a bubble?

    No offense but this is just too unoriginal.

    Here I'm lost. How does a Moon base that is too far away logistically going to make the Iranians back down? You need something more logical (no pun intended).

    It's not very moving, some psychologist said humans had ten years. It's not going impress many readers, won't make them feel the tension.

    So, not trying to knock you idea. I think it's workable. The story is a trope so you have to do something to make it unique and yours and believable, relatable, and tension building.

    Instead of a psychologist, can you make it closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock?

    Your character can have recently read the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Timeline. That last exchange of tactical nuclear weapons moved the clock forward to 11:59, people are tense, make your readers feel the tension.

    Something like that. :agreed:
     
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  5. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Hmmmm...ok. I suppose all of my story is probably going to be a trope.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I was trying for that not to be how you read my post.

    Pay attention to the bolded part:
    I think it's workable. The story is a trope so you have to do something to make it unique and yours and believable, relatable, and tension building.

    I'm writing YA and two guys happen to like one girl, talk about tropes. But I'm not worried because I'm writing a completely different take on the three and in the end another female comes into the story balancing things out.
     
  7. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd agree, there are whole genres that are basically one big trope. The individual pieces that stand out are the ones that do something different.

    I won't critique as I generally agree with Ginger. The conversation isn't believable, but it also feels like they are discussing an article about Kim Kardashian's hair rather than the imminent end of everything. The tension is absent.

    Perhaps if the article had been a news item about missile tests over Iraqi territory or against a satellite, as a starting point?
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Another good and workable idea to build tension.
     
  9. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Well, there is a lead in where they are sitting down to celebrate the 1/2 way point, just before dumping stuff on the moon and the mission commander let's them know there's been shots across the bows of warships, but war hasn't officially broken out.

    The purpose of the mission was intended by politicians to be feel good and hoping to show off American ability and resolve. I hadn't really decided if it was intended to be an actual start up and as I went along, I think I started to believe that it wasn't intended to start up anything, just a show.

    The last thing I wanted to do was to have them (US leadership and scientists) know the protagonist is out there and have them send a mission to investigate. It reeked too much of Alien and 2001. I wanted the protagonist to fabricate an excuse as to why she let herself be discovered early.

    I think I could start this particular scene with Suarez asking Wiley if he thinks it's 11:59.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  10. GingerCoffee
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    That has potential.

    I see other interesting ideas in your thought process there. Don't be afraid of tropes, most (all?) of the fiction out there has one or more tropes embedded in it. The key is to move the reader to enjoy the story, not leave them thinking about the trope. You hopefully can do that if you've buried it so deeply in the tension and story, it slips by unnoticed.
     
  11. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    If this is the start of the story, it is too much dialog before anything else happens.

    At any place in the story, it would be better if they had actions as well as dialog. Let them be working on a minor problem with the ship or something, instead of just sitting there telling the reader the background.
     
  12. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    No, it's not the start. It's middle to 2/3 of the way into Chapter 1. Also, again, this is a graphic novel and the two are prepping the cargo.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm pretty concerned about this on info dump grounds. Why doesn't the story start at the beginning of the story, instead of the middle?
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't think that's what he said. He said this section was from the middle of the first chapter, not the beginning.
     
  15. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    In a way it does. It starts at the rebirth of the main character. The main story device is memory, so it stars off with him trying to recover who he is and what lead to his current state.
     
  16. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    Meaning no offence, but these conversations just don't work. I've never really been into graphic novels, so maybe things turn out differently when it is fully presented, but having the text simply written out in one place, no, it does not work.

    I'm actually kind of on board with the whole idea of humans as an inherently self destructive force that will consume the natural world. In fact, I more or less agree with the majority of the things said in the conversations. But even with my agreement this just come across a painfully heavy-handed and preachy.
    Suarez sounds like spigot for political philosophy, and Wiley seems to exist for no other reason than to prevent it from being a monologue, and occasionally prompt Suarez to the next few lines of philosophy.

    You need to tone down the message, because the message is beginning to consume the story and characters. You may also want to give Wiley a stronger character and possibly an opposing stance, because at the moment he/(she?) sounds like I do when I'm trying to meekly kill off a conversation. That's assuming it's not intentional, of course. If Suarez is supposed to be extremely preachy and Wiley is supposed to be too polite to tell him to shut up, then I take it back.
     
  17. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I work on dialog first. I know companies like DC do it scene first, but I do dialog first.

    I see your point.

    No, neither one is the case. I'm doing a complete rewrite. No more preaching, but there needs to be something that shows Suarez believes we're heading toward Armageddon. I think in the previous scene, where they are listening to a speech from the prez, he flips the middle finger at the president. Yep, going back and looking at what I wrote, he's flipping off the president (of course, it's a recording, so he shouldn't get in trouble).
     

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