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bear by san

March 2017



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writing gorey vast reluctance

i've got the antichrist in the kitchen yelling

Is it really too much to ask that readers fill in the obvious logical steps and suppositions for themselves rather than having to be hand-held through everything? I mean, if you can get a stove from a nearby town to a farmhouse, and you know there are mules, doesn't that imply there's a cartage industry?

Yeah, I know. The answer is the question. Shut up and write the exposition, Bear.

But it doesn't actually help the conviction that not only is nobody actually going to read all this incredibly boring exposition I'm currently writing, but in fact, they're never going to finish the book because I'm telling them ast such great length stuff that any idiot could figure out if they took a minute. Because nobody actually wants to read a paragraph about the local teamster's union, unless it was written by William Goldman.


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I promise that not only will read your paragraph about the local teamsters union, I will wish you had said more about them and their internal political struggles.

And I also promise to think that William Goldman's wasn't half as good as yours.
You could replace "Teamsters" with "Trebuchet and Bubble Wrap" if you wanted to. :-)

/unhelpful, but hopefully cheering, advice
But then what would I do with the mules?
I find myself thinking this all the time. However, since I haven't managed to actually sell a story yet (although I've gotten close a few times), I figure the answer is that I have sit down and write the text that leads the reader through step by step even if I can feel myself falling asleep as I do it. (I guess the trick is to do the exposition such that I don't fall asleep writing it. I'll work on that...)

OTOH, you, Bear, could write volumes about fresh, wet paint drying, how it eventually cracks and peels, lashed by decades of wind and rain, how it flakes fall off and the wood underneath weathers to a dull, fragile gray, and I will be so enthralled in rapt ecstasy that I can not eat, drink or sleep until I have absorbed every word.

Well, the way you say it, the paint sounds pretty interesting....
Ah. The step you're missing is that YOU know all this stuff because you made it up yonks ago, and it bores you to tears in the same way that Uncle Moe's story about how he got his start in show business that you've heard three quadrillion times bores you. WE, on the other hand, know it not, and are not only fascinated by the remarkable coincidence of Uncle Moe's happening to be busking for rent money at the corner of 42nd and 6th just when the casting director for Guys and Dolls was looking for his Nathan Detroit, but really, really need to know it, because it explains, as nothing else does, exactly why he's always so damn sure something will turn up and save his bacon at the last moment.

In short: exposition is good. Try and learn to love it.

Now, I'll go and try to take my own advice.

Beautifully said! May I cut and paste, with appropriate nod to the author, in my own writer's journal? I think there will come a time when I *need* to read this statement again. :)
I think readers should have to excessive some initiative!

Though if the existence of a local hauler is important, how about "The mule team brought the new stove up the drive, and the carter heaved it off the wagon for me"?
I kinda dislike hand-holding on things I find obvious. I hate not being told things I don't find obvious (it makes me feel stupid for the author to just assume I'll get something I don't get).

Combine a few hundred thousand (he said, optimistically) individuals who feel that way, and it turns out that really quite a lot needs to be explained, and it has to be done somehow without annoying the other people in each case.
The way you put it, it all sounds so logical.

I have no idea; I might well not be surprised if you mentioned a cartage industry much later, because I'd just assumed of course there was one. Kinda has to be, doesn't there? To have much of any economy, even at the medieval level? (No idea what kind of society the book you're talking about is; not assuming it's generic fantasy pseudo-medieval, promise!)
Some will and some won't read it. Besides you can always cut it out later if you don't like it. It's always kind of sad but sometimes it just has to be done.
(Is it bad that most of what I took from this is the intense desire to read a William Goldman teamsters book?)
No, because if so, then I'm bad, too.

Spare, tight, immediate, every word does work: these are the things I admire most in your fiction.

The word exposition brings me visions of skip-over paragraphs.

I tell myself not to worry. She will find a way. In a quick landscape detail or a bit of dialogue, she will place one ever-so-small-yet-functional stepping stone to satisfy us all.

(I don't want a livejournal account, but I created one to say this...)
I suspect Steve Brust could also do justice to the teamster's union. But you make a good point.
Necessary Evil. The exposition is there for people like me, who think they're pretty intelligent, but still miss important details that more intelligent people than me intuit automatically.

For this, I apologise, and thank you for your suffering.

Not "more intelligent." Differently wired.

(Seriously. I have this emo with myself all the damn time, because my friends are geniuses who can understand string theory and were doing college-level physics in 9th grade and can intuit stuff like that. I ... can't. I'm not stupid; I've got 95th percentile INT stats. But my brain works differently than theirs do. I'm an SF type, while they're all NT types. I'm not less intelligent than they are; I just brain differently. I need to remind myself of that on occasion.)
Honestly, the one thing I would have wished for in some of your books was a little more exposition. I know I should be able to fill it in for myself, but sometimes I'm just a little too dim.

Except my books really do suck. I know: I've read them. And this one sucks a whole lot.
I have faith in your ability to make a paragraph about the local teamster's union not only interesting but thought-provoking.
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