Archive for June, 2012

This subject comes up because it’s something I’m dealing with right now. I’m in the middle of revisions to “The Music Box” in preparation to e-publish it. One of the major changes I’m making is to put back and actually expand certain aspects of the world-building that I had purged (not quite completely, as the critiques proved) when trying to cut this story down to a (traditionally) publishable length. There just aren’t a lot of markets out there for novellas.

So, now that I’m going to e-publish it instead, I’m working those details back in. Right now, a big lump of this kind of detail is located in the first scene. That’s okay for this stage of the process. Just like in a first draft, sometimes it’s necessary to just get it out on paper–or at least on the computer screen. The important thing is to make sure it doesn’t stay there. Too much world building up front keeps the reader from really connecting with the characters and slows the story down too much.

My goal for feeding in world building is “learn as you go”. In other words, the reader should find out about these details when they become relevant. Of course, for some things that are going to be really important in the story, it’s sometimes also necessary to foreshadow a bit.

My standard for this is Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE CURSE OF CHALLION. (I love this book, by the way.) In the first six paragraphs, the reader discovers that Caz has or has held a rank higher than his apparent current status, that there are something like the knightly orders in this world, that the world is likely to be medieval-esque, and a little bit about the religious system. All from Caz’s interaction with a group of riders. And with that, the reader has enough information to go on with. By the end of that first scene, the reader will also be introduced to the concept of death magic, which seems almost like an interesting aside at this point, but will turn out to be very important later in the story. But all of it just flows naturally from Caz’s actions, reactions, and thoughts.

That’s what I’m striving for in this and every story. So, as I go through the revisions, I’m on the look out for places where I can feed that info dump from the beginning into the story in smaller bites right where it fits naturally. I’ve already found a place to show a bit of the political game that is the basis for a lot of one character’s motivations rather than just tell about it.

In the end, the goal is to leave only that bit of information that is really needed in that first scene and to make it look seamless. Not quite as easy as it sounds.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts