1. Winzett
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    Winzett Member

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    Setting mechanics, how much detail?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Winzett, Apr 30, 2012.

    Hello there,

    I am only at the planning stage on my fantasy novel and I came into this trouble. There are some things such as a gateway to another world and a special kind of "magic" which needs a specific kind of seal/script.

    At first I thought that I should think of some very logical and detailed explaination because otherwise readers would just question these things and might complain. But then I thought of other novels such as Harry Potter. Why do they need to shout the name of the spell and make a specific hand movement for each spell? i don't think the author explained it in the novel and (most) readers didn't care.

    In my story, the seal "attracts" that special kind of "magic". Do you think that is sufficient or should I also explain why the seal attracts it? Or should I try to explain throughoutly how the gateway works? How much "logical explaination" do you think is enough?

    English is my second language so if anything was unclear, please do ask if you didn't understand something ^^
     
  2. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    No need to try and explain the mechanics, and probably best if you don't try - stick to the effects this has on the characters and the plot - it's more important.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The readers won't complain. Don't give one whit more information than is needed for the story at that moment.

    If the characters are familiar with gateway travel, they won't think twice about how it works, and therefore the reader needn't know either. If they aren't familiar with it, they'll be confused. Let the reader be equally confused. Everyone can learn together, to whatever extent they need to.
     
  4. Kesteven
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    Kesteven Member

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    Personally I think stories tend to work better if the author thinks through the system logically and asks themselves questions, that way even picky readers won't complain as much about inconsistency.

    But don't exposit! It's enough that the system is consistent where it's shown. It's tempting once you've worked out a system you like to explain it to the readers, but going on about why everything works how it does is often boring and highlights any flaws or oversights.

    Or, yeah, you could just not bother. But personally I find stories like Harry Potter infuriating for precisely that reason, and I also just enjoy figuring out the implicit rules of invented systems as a kind of sideshow to the story itself.
     
  5. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    You mean like Star Trek's infamous Hesisenberg Compensator in the matter transporters? - Not everything need be logical.
     
  6. Winzett
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    Winzett Member

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    Thanks for the answers!

    I do prefer to think of some sort of a logical system, but it is seems redundant to go very indepth, not to mention actually explain it in the book. Guess I'll experiment a bit. For now, I'm leaning towards not giving a detailed explaination
     

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