1. Kysun
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    Kysun New Member

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    Worldbuilding

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Kysun, Apr 24, 2009.

    Hullo,

    I've recently broken the ice and actually decided to send one of my buddies a peice of my work. Apparently, my chapter one looks like a chapter two to her because I failed to include much exposition-dumping, and she told me that I should have a prologue 'if only to establish the settings/themes of the story, like magic/time period/climate/costal village/government' (and I copy-pasta'd).

    Now, is it really neccesarry to dump all the worldbuilding directly into the novel, or else will it alienate readers if I refer to a thing that they've never heard of and trust the context to give it meaning?

    Thanks in advance. C:
     
  2. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    You can establish that thorough the story. If the focus of the story isn't the world itself I say leave it as it is and only provide details when needed.
     
  3. That Silly Welsh Guy
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    That Silly Welsh Guy Senior Member

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    I agree. Ever wondered how writers like Orwell, Atwood and Tolkien got so many reader? That avoided the whole 'info-dump' concept during thier first chapters, and those writers can't be wrong in my opinion. Do what they did: throw your readers head long into your story without a clue, because they have imaginations just as much as writers do. You only need to draw attention to/explain/elaborate upon things when there is a need to.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    With all respect to your friend, exposition dumps (infodumps) arer to be avoideed at all costs. Leabe the reader wondering, unstead of handing out answers the reader does not yet care about.

    Get into the story, and let the backroud seep into the story a drop at a time.
     
  5. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    One of the key things about information is to be careful both how you hint and disclose it. You can start the readers confused and in the middle of chaos, but don't give out any fine details. Hint and lead but don't say anything until the time is right for it to be said. Keep things ambiguous at the start and slowly work the details in.
     
  6. Kysun
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    Kysun New Member

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    Ahaha. Thanks.
    I'm sure it was well-intended, she just went a little overboard in trying to offer me help. :)
     
  7. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Info-dump= bad. period.

    I, as a reader, don't want to know everything about the world all at one time. A little at a time...much more satisfying. I don't want to read something where the author assumes I can't figure out the setting with context clues.

    As a writer, if someone *did* want me to do an info-dump, I'd feel insulted.

    ~Lynn
     
  8. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    They're not literally always bad. If the relevant information is particularly hard/unsubtle to give out as you go along - and if you can make it interesting or funny enough - it's still sometimes going to be better than potentially confusing readers who don't make the same assumptions you do. If you give away nothing at first it's going to be hard to engage readers with your world, so you still need to balance the introduction with the action.

    Also, establishing the basic settings and themes of a story is not infodumping, so if your friend really had that problem with the first chapter, that's another issue altogether.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing is automatiacally bad in every situation. However, spreading out a feast of background is so frequently snoozorific that every writer's first instinct should be to start asperging holy water and chanting protective spells.

    Leaving a reader completely confused is undesirable, but raising questions is good. Even questions like, "What the hell is going on?" are fine as long as the reader gets to begin to connect with a character.

    There are always other ways to disseminate history and other background information. It is possible to provide it ab initio in an interesting way, but it really should not be your first resort.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the goal is to tell the reader as much as they need to know, no more no less. Sometimes they do need to know a whole lot all at once. Sometimes they don't. Infodumps are annoyed, usually not necessary, but can be done.
     
  11. grnidone
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    grnidone Member

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    No, I wouldn't put it all into the book.

    BUT, if you are building a whole new world, I'd absolutely write up a reference manual for yourself so you stay consistent.
     
  12. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Banzai: Infodumps are useful when you have something you need to get across, but just don't have the time, space, or the ability to actually show. For instance, one of my lead females had a tragic past that is relevant to the plot, but it's a first person story, and that female isn't the point of view character. I can't very well show her past, so I'm forced to have her talk about it. An infodump, but not a bad time to use one.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have to side with Banzai here. If you don't have time, make time. If your story requires more than the word limit range you are aiming for, it may be the wrong story for that range, or may need simplification.

    If your character needs to talk about er past, drag it out. Don't have her tell it all at once. Give it in pieces with interruptions, or break it up because she doesn't really want to talk about it.

    There are always alternatives to an infodump.
     
  14. Ice
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    I recommend reading R. Scott Bakker or (I never thought I'd say this) George R.R. Martin. These guys prove that the most effective world-building technique involves gradual revelation of culture over the course of the novel(s). Banzai's correct. Mini–info dumps can be useful to further the plot—for example, the protagonist's sidekick may come to him with a revelation pertaining to the overarching mystery—but info dumps concerning world-building are a major no-no. It's better to include bits and pieces here and there.

    As for the notion of including a prologue to establish such themes: Hell, no! A dull world-building prologue is the last thing you need when trying to sell your book.
     
  15. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    In this case, no, there is not. It is important information, but not so important that it needs to be brought up over and over again throughout the story. To be frank, there are other, equally or more important things going on. It simply wouldn't make sense for one of these other important things to be happening, then all of a sudden have the POV character go "Oh, by the way, we never finished that talk earlier..." Besides that, she's not a secretive character, certainly not afraid to talk about her past. There would be no credible reason to drag it out as you say.

    This backstory is necessary, but it really needs to get out all at once (I can't really explain why without going into detail on the entire story). That said, it's not a lot. One or two pages, tops.
     
  16. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Two pages IS a lot when referring to an information tsunami, but I'll have to agree on YOU during this instance.

    As long as you make it an interesting two pages of back story (particularly, if the background story is actually interesting, in and of itself) then you should be fine.
    Even more so if the reader is already interested in everything that is going on, and the characters.
     

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