1. Isoul

    Isoul Member

    Jan 3, 2019
    Likes Received:
    New York

    Timeskips + lore exposition

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Isoul, Jan 7, 2019.

    So I have this portion in my book I'm putting on pause. While it's not a typical journey from one place to the next I want to put in a couple of places that the main protagonist travels through at the beginning of a chapter. There are three, and all of them are pretty wildly thought out (Including the food pyramid of these places, weather, history, geographical changes, and other details) And I would like to somehow fit at least a bit of it in, do you think that could be a turn off to the chapter or just be considered "filler" to the reader? Or rather, is there a way to do this that would make this very engaging, even as a timeskip?
  2. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

    Jan 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    It depends how you incorporate them. The important thing is not just to list all these things as an info-dump. Having them woven in to the background of the story will help really bring the world to life in the reader's mind, because details about a place can help with that. Maybe you could try giving a bit more time in your story to these places and the journey if you want to explore it more fully?
  3. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Maybe some of it could be conveyed in incidental conversations the protagonist is having--"I'm glad we're finally out of the Jugaran jungles, I thought those bugs and leeches were going to bleed me dry!". Or maybe the circumstances of the protagonist as we rejoin them can give a clue about what happened. For example--

    "Now, let us never speak of the shortcut again."
    John-Wayne and making tracks like this.
  4. -oz

    -oz Active Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Trust me, I absolutely love world building, but each location, like each person, like each event, like everything in the story, has to have a purpose, otherwise it's just filler. If the settings don't matter to the story, don't go in depth. If each location is tied to the story though, that would give you a reason to expand on the locations themselves. Remember that change is the catalyst for stories. If the characters of your story have to adapt to the locations (changing the way they live, eat, think), if the location is integral to the story (the mountains provide a natural barrier vs the plains will let you see the enemy coming), or maybe if something in those locations will progress their character arcs, now you have a reason to expand on the locations of your story. Now that the locations are important, all the details you've created just bring those locations to life.
    J.D. Ray and halisme like this.
  5. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Sounds to me like you want a time skip, but yet make it a fully immersive for the readers. Well, pick one or the other. You can't have both.
  6. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

    Sep 7, 2016
    Likes Received:
    You may do this. But you must to it well, sneakily, and it will probably take you writes and re-writes to get it...right.

    It's no secret that a HUGE portion of the worldbuilding an author does for their unique WIP never makes it to the page, let alone the reader. Part of the melancholy of creating a universe is all of the things your audience WON'T know you did. You might have the backstory and lineage of every single character, and the motivations for all of their actions, and not even 1/10th of it will the reader actually care about. Similarly, you might have the entire economy of a state figured out, down to their trade routes, major exports, religion, etc--and the sobering truth is that the reader probably doesn't need to know it.

    However, you are allowed, as far as I'm concerned, the barest minimum of leeway to let loose your creation without offending your reader. As a personal rule, you're allowed a few sentences per awesome area your protagonist visits, and the total number of sentences should be no longer than you yourself can read without becoming bored. Additionally, the entire thing must tell-not-show: if you're going to be telling anyway, be obvious, up front, and brief. This lets the reader know that you're throwing down exposition, it won't take very long, and they should sit tight for a paragraph or two and enjoy a bit of scenery. In my experience, most readers, so long as there is a reasonable lull in the action and plot of the story at that moment, will forgive a bit of "Hey, hey, I really spent a lot of time on this, will you please appreciate it for three seconds?"

    The entire chapter before this has been jam packed with action, emotion, active sentences, and the main character pursuing their personal goals with a vengeance.

    Six weeks passed. Alma hunched, nearly the entire time, hooded, silent, and brooding in a corner of the cart.

    First the caravan stopped in Aggra--a desolate, sand-spattered desert town where rough winds and freezing nights left no one wondering why pleasurable company was all the locals had to sell. Then the desert faded. Sand turned to rock and jagged stone, as the carts wove up to the mountain village of Unk'a. The change was staggering. Stalls of fresh fish, honey, lumber, crystal water, and colorful, snow-covered flags begged the question of why the merchants even bothered with desert trade at all. Wealth trickled off the mountain like waterfalls, and a man would pay a fortune to taste a salmon caught here. Many had already. Clearly. Finally, the mountains sloped to prairies. Here, men with broad shoulders and heavy beards made their living from rock and stone. Quarries paid their taxes, fueled their trade, and built their homes, and in no other land, not in all the world, could a whiter marble be found.
    The cart pulled, finally, into the village of Bree.

    Alma lept from the cart. She pulled out a knife, hid it under her cloak, and got ready to give the mayor the action sequence that this story needs to get back to.

    That's it! That's all you get. And the action before and after that dismal paragraph better be enough to merit your reader having slushed through it!
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
    Isoul and CerebralEcstasy like this.
  7. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

    Sep 7, 2014
    Likes Received:
    I’m going to go a little bit against the grain here (I think) and say that it’s okay to let setting take the front seat. Sometimes readers do want to immerse themselves in a place, not just characters. If we think about the average episode of Star Trek, that episode is not about character development, and often is not about what happens, as much as exploring the new place that was visited and the questions that it raises.

    But there’s a good way to do that and a not as good way. If readers wanted to read an encyclopedia, they would be reading an encyclopedia. If you’re writing a novel, there needs to be a narrative of what happens. And quite often when exploring a place, that narrative is about the conflicts that are inherent in that place. Places, cultures, and ideas have tension to them. And when they are experienced, they are experienced through the eyes of a person. How do the characters interact with these places and the people who live there? By thinking of people, cultures, and how they interact, we can turn encryploedia entries into very human stories. Because for a place to be alive, things have to happen there. Settings are rich because they are vibrant, changing, and woven of conflict.
  8. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Jan 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    That type of story is called milieu. One of the most famous examples of this is Lord of the Rings; another example is Alice in Wonderland. They do exist and can be quite popular, though as you said there's a right and a wrong way of doing it.
    Isoul and -oz like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice