1. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Problems with expecations of reader knowledge about setting/world.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by aimeekath, Apr 27, 2012.

    I'm writing a story at the moment that contains a world of my own creation. However I'm worried that I might keep too much information to myself, and expect the reader to know stuff about the world when I haven't actually put any of that information in. I think this is probably because I'm too immersed in the story and the world I've created.

    How do I keep from not giving out enough information, but at the same time avoid an overload of irrelevant information?
     
  2. EineKleine
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    EineKleine Member

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    This is a tough question, and one that I am faced with at times as well.

    I'd suggest to you, that you simply use an outlining process. Outline each major scene in your book, or even each major piece of exposition or reveal to your reader. Ideally, you want to share these pieces of info about your world in a way that isn't like being spit on. You don't want the reader to know that s/he's being told about the world, just to process it as fact. Study exposition. Then, like I said, keep an outline and keep track of what you are telling your reader, and when. You don't need to tell everything, in fact, If I were you I'd tell the bare minimum before being confusing. Your readers are smart, and they will pick most things up.

    But definitely a tough issue, and one that I've struggled with as well. A reader will say to me "Why does this happen?" and I say "Because of his role in society!!! Jeez, don't you know about this and that historical event." They'll respond sheepishly, no, or simply point out it wasn't in the story. Luckily, it's not a really hard problem to fix and I'm sure it happens to everyone at times, world creation is a fun, and challenging part of writing.

    Best of luck!
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Either you write everything about it in the first draft, every tiny detail and then in the revision you cut it down to just a necessary minimum, or you write as little as possible, like you seem to do now, and after you've finished you let someone read what you have written and give their opinions on how complete the setting was for them and what kind of info they would have wanted more of to get a better picture of it.
     
  4. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Well, my first chapter actually happened to me. Granted, it is the compilation of many events daisy-chained together, but I lived it. I also have a secret. I'm probably older than you.

    LOL, as you get older you care less and less about people, news events, the chatter of the rumors--even dangers seem a lot less intimidating. So some buffoon whispers, "Tourist really says the things his lead character professes," it doesn't mean anything.

    Take my advice. Write it deeper, include every nuance of your life, your fears and your weaknesses. It's what most of us seek in a story, and damn few writers have the guts to put down in black and white.
     
  5. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    If you can get someone to read your story that can help uncover what information is missing. I had my wife read the first few chapters of my story and she pointed out some rather obvious omissions immediately. It's hard for you to see them because you already know all the background.

    It might also help to do a front-to-back read through yourself. I wrote my WIP out of order and that made it hard for me to be sure things get introduced before they are needed. I'm currently doing a full in-order read/edit and it's turning up all sorts of quirks.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How does the info you give help move the plot along? How does it help develop your character? How does it affect the situation your character is in?

    If the info answers none of the above questions, then it's probably self-indulgent infodump ;)

    Any description for tension or atmosphere building should be from elements that the reader already understands.

    Read the Hunger Games perhaps - I felt Collins very successfully described her world and immersed you in it, without explaining too much. She explained only when it's relevant to the immediate situation, and she uses some memorable story to do that, or else the info really affects the character immediately, making it memorable. And thereafter she continuously use the terms she's explained already to build atmosphere. One thing I admired about her writing was how well she used symbolism, for example, the Mockingjay. It's a made-up creature, and yet by the end of the book, you see the Mockingjay and right away you know its significance, and Collins only explains it once in book 1.
     
  7. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Brilliant advice - thanks so much! I will defintley play around with these suggestions and see what works. Hopefully I'll get an impartial reviewer sometime soon, too.

    @ MCKK - I think I'll re read the Hunger Games as I did love the way Collins weaved in information and managed to make the story totally engaging and memorable.
     

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