1. Laser Sailor
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    Laser Sailor Member

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    Too much technobabble

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Laser Sailor, Jul 29, 2010.

    I have a tendancy to lean to hard on technobabble, I feel it's grossly ineffective as dialouge.

    An example of something I've cut out of my story:

    Zac sat down and pulled the safety straps tight, he donned the headset in time to hear the petty officer requesting permission to take off.
    “Plaster City Tower, this is Papa Sierra Mike Three Thee Nine requesting permission to take off and ascend to orbit,” said Thompson with a flat informal tone.
    “339 this is Plaster Tower, permission granted, take off and hold course 033 at altitude 200,” came the crackly reply.
    Zac’s stomach dropped as the shuttle lurched upwards and accelerated. The shuttle leveled out at twenty thousand feet and held a straight course over the desert below. He could see the BM2 and the Lieutenant scanning their controls and gauges as the waited for the next radio call and set of instructions, they didn’t have to wait long.
    “339, Plaster City Departure, permission granted for a full speed orbital ascension on vector 060.270, contact Orbital Control on 234.56, good day sir.”

    I don't think the dialouge helps the story, in fact I feel it just gets in the way.

    What are your thoughts on technobabble?
     
  2. Tribe of Fools
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    Tribe of Fools New Member

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    You're right.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yup.

    If it goes on for too long my brain hits the FFW>> button twice and I starts skipping ahead looking for where the actual story starts to happen again.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That isn't exactly technobabble. Technobabble is convoluted explanations for how a technology works.

    The dialogue you're using is probably unnecessary. It doesn't really further the story. You may be better off just describing the relevant actions that are taking place and omit the radio chatter.

    But I don't think a certain amount of the communication with the tower is terrible. Just don't overdo it. Give the reader a taste and move on.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    A little technobabble can help authenticity. Too much will be a complete roadblock. If a reader has to invest too much effort to understand, they won't carry on reading. It's all about finding the balance.

    In that extract, there is a touch too much technobabble for easy reading.

    EDIT: Heh, mod trifecta.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think what you have above is not actual technobabble, since it is a realistic dialogue, not made-up technical terms.

    You could have one sentence of technical dialogue to establish the general feel of it, then tell the rest indirectly. For example, if Zac is not alone in the shuttle, he could turn to the other person and say something which sums up the dialogue with the flight leader.
     
  7. nickbedford
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    nickbedford Member

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    I actually liked that "techno-dialogue" :p

    But I agree it's not really techno-babble. Star Trek is the definition of techno-babble (even if it is still dialogue).
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That dialogue wasn't bad. It looked very reasonable for tower communications. It's good to keep in a little of that, but after it's established that you know what you're doing and the reader has a sense of what it sounds like, you can summarize it by saying things like "Thompson radioed the tower and requested permission to depart."

    But that stuff you cut from your piece? I've seen that kind of thing in kids' stories. I think you're being a bit too hard on yourself.
     

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