1. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering

    Omitting Important Information! :(

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Andrae Smith, Oct 29, 2012.

    Hello,

    I realize the first thing people might tell me in response to this is "it all depends on how well you write it" or "its up to the writer to choose how information is given."

    To avoid that, I'm going to be clear and say I don't quite know how I want to present the information. I'm not exactly sure of what information I want to present, but when I know how I want to present it, then I will figure out what needs to go in. My question, then is for you to help me out be making suggestions as to how might put for the information, or how you might have seen it done, or any advice really on what should go into this book.

    What information am I talking about? Let me explain:

    ***********************************************
    Over the years I have been "writing a book" it was more an extended short story that I reworked so many times it turned into a novel-- poorly written in many areas, lacking structure, and full of continuity and maturity issues as I started so young. The original story was about 25 pages and it was About a boy named Zane who could do basically anything. If he thought it, he could make it happen. He's basically a God in the form of a 13 yr old boy with an over active imagination. In this story we get to know him well as a boy and as a young a man. He creates another universe and resides there for a while before leaving it to his descendants and abandoning it. In this story we see his good side and his bad side and learn a lot about what really makes him tick.

    This new Universe becomes the setting of the sequel to the story. And in this part we follow Zeke, who become's Zane's apprentice. Zane is still a very important figure in the story and during the first par of this section he and Zeke spend a lot of time together. While Zane is training, His Alter ego escapes to form its own entity, hell-bent on destroying the universe. This Entity goes by the name Shane and he stems from the conflict we see within Zane in his childhood. Shane supposedly kills Zane, but Zane actually survives and takes on the roll of a phantom who is kind-of playing double agent. So Even though the story Ultimately shifts Focus to Zeke for the remainder of part 2, and 3, and 4 and basically the rest of the book, Zane is still an important entity in the book; and as the phantom he is able to reveal much more about the conflict that the characters were unaware of, and even to the readers.

    As I said this is all garbage now. So I am starting over from the beginning. But because the focus is now mainly on Zeke and Shane, I am omitting the useless scenes that were in the first part. But Im not sure how to present Zane's origins practically without doing another version of part one. And I personally believe that the story should be self-contained and not need a prologue. Without Zane the entire setting and conflict for the book doesn't exist,, and yet if he's there we have to know a bit more about him to make him relevant to the story at hand, but I'm not sure how to do that.
    *************************************************

    If you made it this far, THANK YOU AND please help. I need ideas on how to present the information on Zane that is relevant to the story without disrupting the story too much. I have a friend who suggested flashbacks here and their that reveal something that was missing from the story. But I don't really know...
     
  2. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Also, if you are thinking "if it's important, then why omit it" Let me say this. the scenes in it are not important, but what we learn about Zane is still important. :p
     
  3. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,201
    Likes Received:
    1,786
    Location:
    Australia
    dialogue with other characters. I'm sure they're interested...
     
  4. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    If you don't know what's important information for your reader, then I must ask - do you even have a plot/story?? You must present everything that allows the reader to understand your story, and preferably present it in an interesting way that's relevant to the action happening within the scene.

    So if you wanna present that the bakers make delicious bread there, you should probably have your MC eat a loaf of bread and relish it. If you wanna tell us how unjust the political system is, you should probably have your MC witness a crime and see the police do nothing about it, and then of course make your MC act in a certain way and so on. But don't just say "The police are corrupt" because a statement of fact is rather boring, and needless to say also uncreative.

    I think you need to strip your story to its bare bones - what's the absolute most basic thread that joins A to Z (from beginning to end)? Now add on the little details, how does ABC happen and why, etc.

    For example, A to Z is that Helen starts off lonely and falls in love with Jim. They begin a relationship and eventually marry each other. That's the most basic outline.

    So how does Helen meet Jim? In a cafe. Why is she at the cafe? She's buying a doughnut for her boss. What does she do? She's an assistant at a publishing house. What publishing house? It's called Lions. How many years has Lions been around for? The past 20 years. What sort of books do they publish? Crime and mystery fiction, as well as a section on Sci-Fi.

    Now which pieces of this information is important? Well, I need to present a story of Helen falling in love with Jim. Her background is important, so readers can relate. How she meets Jim is important. Great. Do we need to know what genres the publishing house publishes? No, it's absolutely irrelevant to how Helen falls in love. Do we need to know that Lions is an established publishing giant? Maybe. You could work that in in passing, but since it is irrelevant to how Helen falls in love, it is an unnecessary detail. But would it give you a flavour of Helen's work-life and career ambitions? Maybe, and if you want to develop that side of her personality, then perhaps you should mention that the publishing house is an established giant.

    It's all in how necessary it is to your story, and which facets you want to develop. Everything you tell the reader should serve to develop something that's essential to the understanding and/or development of the character or the plot.

    As for HOW to present such information - the reader should have a context within which to operate, eg. understand the world or environment that the characters are in so that the reader can relate and make logical assumptions. Other details should usually be presented in breadcrumbs - usually, make the reader ask a question and only then present the facts, so that you make your reader hungry for that piece of information. Present it the other way round and you certainly risk boring your readers to tears, although of course it's possible to do well but it's certainly much harder.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Before you start, search the Writing Issues forums for the word infodump. Not only will that tell you what to avoid and why, it will also present several alternative approaches.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ...ways to insert backstory:

    in dialog between characters who are talking about the past
    as writings by people in the past
    referencing history books, news items, et al.
    in narrative describing buildings/sites/etc. from the past

    ...in all cases, 'less is more' and too much is an infodump...
     
  7. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Thank you, this is all useful information. I've written 80,000+ words of this story, but its time for a rewrite, the story is getting a new look because throughout those 80,000+ words the focus shifts from Zane to Zeke. I apologize if my tone was ungrateful towards any advice. I didn't mean it in offense. Believe it or not, It was looking up infodump on Google that led me to this post...

    The thing is that in the original story it wasn't back story, It was the story, but the focus was changing a bit gradually. Everything was "once upon a time" linear until the latter half. Altogether I am thankful for anything anyone can provide and don't mean to undermine any posts made in the forums.
     
  8. steve119
    Offline

    steve119 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    2
    the most important thing to do is to try not to think like the story's creator but the story's reader and think if you were the reader when and how would you like to find out the infomation. Do you want to know it all from the beginning or do you want to have it hinted at but have the full info given later in the story as kind of a twist.
     
  9. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Wow I can't believe I never thought of it that way :eek: That is a really good tip! Thank you! :cool:
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    zeke/zane/shane will be confusing and annoy many readers... i strongly suggest you rethink your name choices...
     
  11. Thumpalumpacus
    Offline

    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    106
    Location:
    Texas
    The concept of scaffolding may be of use to you as well. You've got the character history in your mind and write your story -- let the reader infer some of it.

    You know the supporting story, and know exactly why. On points that aren't crucial to the story, letting the reader figure that out for themselves can make for involving reading, so long as your characters are compelling.
     

Share This Page