1. Douglas Rumbaugh
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    Douglas Rumbaugh Member

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    Revealing Information to the Reader

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Douglas Rumbaugh, Mar 15, 2011.

    Alright here is my problem, well not really a problem but a bit of an idle curiosity.

    When you are reading a book, do you want information regarding objects laid out soon after they are mentioned?

    Basically here is a clipping from my rough draft (unedited, unproofread, basically as was written):

    Pushing Young’s nearly whispered relays of the orders aside, Scott turned to face Williams. “How are we on weapons? What sort of compliment does this sort of vessel have anyway?”

    “You mean you don’t know sir?” Williams cocked her head slightly sideways.

    “Ha, one would think that they would have briefed me on the capabilities of this ship a little more fully. But then I guess you don’t need that much information for routine patrol duty, eh? About all I know is the legendary beating that an Ares can take, but then every SA officer knows that.”

    “Ah.” she shrugged. “Well we have our full compliment of PBWs active, along with all of our lasers and plasma emitters. Two rounds per HAC, as is standard, and of course our point defense railguns. No missiles though, we’re traveling light in that regard.”

    ----------------------

    My main interest is in that last line. Currently I plan to leaving those weapon names hanging until I describe them when they are first used, a fairly long way into the story from this point. Do you think it is acceptable to do that, or should I at least give the reader an inkling as to what those are, assuming they are unfamiliar with my other work on Transcendence based stories and such?

    Thanks,
    Douglas Rumbaugh


    P.S.
    It just now occurred to me that this isn't strictly plot related, but it is something that can be indirectly related to plots. Feel free to move it mods, if you feel it would be better placed in a different section.
     
  2. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    This Teaser is fine ....if the weapon is not being used in this passage, any in depth narrative would be a pre mature info dump Transcendence or not.
     
  3. Douglas Rumbaugh
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    Douglas Rumbaugh Member

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    I thought so, just wanted to be sure. A lot of the sci-fi I've been reading lately has been fan fiction, so the weapons and such are never described because everyone already knows what they are.
     
  4. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. Not nescesserly.

    Avoid giving the reader complete info dumps as soon as something if bought up. If you feel the need to sooner or later explain something it often better to mention it passingly once or twice before it is explained, sort of foreshadowing it and building an interest.

    But most times you do want to explain it before that information comes into play. If you haven't mentioned the function of the "magnetic tractor rays" or whatever before they come in to play they might feel like a dues ex machina.
     
  5. Douglas Rumbaugh
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    Douglas Rumbaugh Member

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    Ah, well the way this story will be going all those weapons will be getting a fair bit of use over the latter half, perhaps earlier.

    Naturally aside from the HAC. . . That is a funny story on that particular weapon though, the thing is virtually a deus ex machina in a shell. In fact I came up with the PBW as an excuse to significantly cut back on the use of them, but that is another story entirely. It is interesting though, the strange roads that world building can take.
     
  6. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    One thing I might suggest is explaining the acronyms, even as a footnote, if necessary. PBW? HAC? WHile you don't need to tell me what they do, not knowing what the acronyms stand for would *really* bug me as a reader. An obvious exception to this would be if the full names are spoilers :p
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me it would be a flavor thing. Military life is about weird acronyms.
     
  8. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    True. I'm a software developer by trade, so I also live and breathe acronyms. But that also means I get frustrated when people spew acronyms that I don't know :D
     
  9. Douglas Rumbaugh
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    Douglas Rumbaugh Member

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    Well for your benefit:

    HAC: Heavy Antimatter Cannon

    PBW: Positronic Beam Weapon
     
  10. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I was more concerned about your regular readers. Do you expect that they already know these acronyms, do you introduce them earlier, or might some of them be as confused as I was? I didn't mean that reading the acronyms in your example frustrated me, but it likely would if I was reading your whole story.
     
  11. bumblebot
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    bumblebot Senior Member

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    I think as long as the reader knows how they should feel about those weapons (if it's enough to get by in a firefight, if some of them are non-standard issue, and so on- it's tough to get specific since I don't know what's happening in the story) then I agree that it's fine to leave them until they come up again later.
     
  12. Douglas Rumbaugh
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    Douglas Rumbaugh Member

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    They are all standard on every Ares Class (or any ship for that matter). The PBW's at this point in the timeline are extremely new additions to the arsenal, but still standard. Its basically just your run of the mill Ares Warship.

    I don't plan on saying directly that PBW stands for Positronic Beam Weapon (or describe any other acronyms like that) however I will refer to the same weapon in multiple ways and allow the reader to infer that they are the same thing. It will be fairly obvious of course.
     
  13. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Ok, as long as your readers will know. I didn't have much context, and I still have no clue what you're talking about, but it looks like your readers should :D
     
  14. Vince524
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    Vince524 Member

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    You want to avoid making it look like an info dump. That's why often times writers use a person who isnt in the know. Like a reporter standing there what's that?
     

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