1. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Question About My Book

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by lordofhats, Nov 14, 2007.

    I had an idea earlier to day while I was in my C++ programming class. Rather than go off in the middle of a chapter or in the middle of the story to explain a group of characters or a place, at the beginning or end of each chapter I would have a little paragraph of trivia or info about the universe of the story.

    I've always enjoyed having thigns explained to me, but I find it annoying in the middle of the story to have to get a two or three paragraph long explaination of something.

    To avoid it and still get that expansion on the universe of the story, I could have a little paragraph or two at the end of the chapter that is just a bit of information to explain something that may need clarification. For those who want to know they can read through it, or if the reader doesn't care they can skip over it because it is irrelevant to the plot.

    What do you think of the idea? I would be worried that it would pull the reader out of the story at an inoppurtune moment. I don't really need it but it would be a way to expand on the universe around the characters without burdening the reader with explainations in the middle of the story.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If the reader needs to know it to understand what is happening in the story, it needs to be part of the story, not a headnote or a footnote.

    Have you considered dropping tidbits of "common knowledge" into conversation or description as an alternative to going into "history lectures"?
     
  3. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I have fitted quite a bit into the dialogue but I always think, if its common knowledge why would they talk about it openly since those talking would be well versed in it?

    Example:
    "Have you been to Place A lately?"
    "No why?"
    "It was really nice last summer I was there"

    Assuming Place A is a fictional place I think up, and the characters are well versed in its history why would they talk about it or think of it unless its history directly relevant to the discussion?

    I don't know maybe I'm over thinking it too much. Thank you though.
     
  4. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    This is done occasionally in sci-fi stories. There will be a page or two explaining some science in an essay form, or an essay by a fictional character explaining a specific character, religion, or race.
    It works nicely in hard sci-fi, and as long as its short could probably be used in lighter sci-fi and even fantasy.
    If it's well marked it lets people skip straight to the action if they aren't interested in the science behind it.
    So I think it works well as long as its not pages of explanation.
     
  5. Bluemouth
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    Bluemouth Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the Michael Crichton books I've read the science stuff is good. But I don't always welcome it - takes me out of the story and makes me feel as if I'm being force-fed random knowledge.
     
  6. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Thats why the books I mention have it almost like a separate chapter. Its a lot less intrusive that way.
    Although there was this one book where the science explanation happened in the middle of the chapter, went on for like 30 pages, and kept me interested the entire time. That was a good author though, and the sci fi was very hard, and well thought out.
     
  7. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I probably won't include any page long explainations (If I choose to use the idea at all). I was thinking of a quick little paragraph that just has a little tid-bit for anyone interested.

    Thankyou for the feed back.
     
  8. iCARUS
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    iCARUS New Member

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    I think it would work if you did it successfully. A good example is the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Every chapter begins with a small excerpt from piece of in-the-fictional-universe literature, like an interview with a character, or an academic history. It serves as an excellent means to fill the reader in on bits of the universe because it serves its purpose, while still staying "in character" if you will. It doesn't remove us from the story, because it explains within the context of that story.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If it's not pertinent to the story, it probably doesn't really belong. If it is pertinent, then it is probably best incorporated into the story itself. If your readership is hard SF, then they will probably welcome the clarifications in the body of the story, as long as it doesn't turn into a classroom lecture.

    The quotations in the Frank Herbert books are really not necessary to the story, but they add color. They do so not because of what they explain, but because the language and focus helps give some insight into the various soiciopolitical factions that interact in the saga. They work because they really are parenthetical in nature; the story is complete without them, and you can read the story without paying them any attention without losing important context. But if you do read them, they enrich the reading experience.

    I do believe Icarus summed it up well, even though my first reaction was that it din't really assert anything:
    If it works, it works, and if it doesn't, get rid of it.

    But don't rely on it to provide information the reader needs.
     

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