1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Explaining future concepts in a past tense narrative

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by OurJud, Sep 6, 2017.

    I tend to do this without thinking, but it suddenly struck me when doing so yesterday, that it's not altogether logical.

    If I was writing a story set in present day, and mentioned the opening of a new cinema, I would not then go on to explain what a cinema is or what it does. And for the same reason I shouldn't be doing this for concepts in a future-set story, correct?

    But then I have the problem of my reader not knowing what 'X' is unless I explain it, because it's a concept that doesn't yet exist.

    It could be that the name of the concept tells you all you needed to know, but would you want these things explained if they only served as furniture for the setting?
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    can you do it subtley - like with the cinema you obviously wouldnt explain what one is, but a character might enthuse that the new building has 12 screens and hes really looking forward to seeing xyz ... '

    Even if you've no idea what a cinema is you now know that its a big building in which people pay to watch films.
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Correct... probably. It all depends on how the story is written. A good story should focus itself in a way that eliminates the need for extemporaneous explanation. It should already be about things we understand and can relate to, like conflicts/emotions/human conditions etc. The more you lean on the familiar, the more room the reader will have to absorb and accept the fantastical without overt explanation. So long as you have a solid foundation you can get away with using subtext and subtle hints to explain unfamiliar concepts.
     
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  4. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks, both.

    Homer, this is a perfect approach. Of course if a character is using the concept, that's another way to 'show' what it does - similar to @big soft moose solution.
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Yeah, the simpler the better. A lot of it goes back to some of our other threads about plotting. An idiot-proof plot will free up room for more complex, fantastical concepts because the reader won't need much mental real estate to follow the story. That's why murder mysteries and revenge stories are so timeless. Or why Shakespeare can be interpreted in any setting.
     
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