it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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If you walk without rhythm, you won't attract the worm.

Progress notes for 23 April 2006:

As you know, Bob--

One of the interesting things about writing SFF is the sheer volume of exposition that is often necessary. And there are all these rules about how one is supposed to do it, or not do it, and the things you are or aren't supposed to let your characters say.

Now, there's a lot of good ways to handle exposition. One is to show things as they happen, to demonstrate the world working as it works. Not to explain, but just to let the reader pick up the rules as he goes. (I did this with the parlor game "Botticelli" in my eponymously titled short story--in fact, I *changed* the rules a little, for a thematic/plot reason, and people who knew the game were able to pick up on the change and describe it back to me, so I guess it worked okay.)

Another way to handle exposition is the infodump. (That short also has huge chunks of actual direct exposition in it; one of the three threads, the second-person one, is nothing but exposition.) Infodumps have a bad name, but actually, a good infodump (what ccfinlay calls "an artful infodump") is an absolute pleasure to read. It's like reading an engaging nonfiction book; the writer makes the topic come alive, and the delivery of the information itself is a pleasure.

One of the primary sins, of course, is supposed to be dialogue that explains things. Because, we are told, real people don't explain things. Especially things the other guy already knows.

Balderdash. How many times a day do you catch yourself rolling your eyes as somebody explains something to you that you already know? How many times do you catch yourself doing it, especially after the third beer, say?

How often do you do it sarcastically ('Local calls are still free.') or insultingly ('You could walk down there. Unless your legs are broken?')

What real people don't usually do is excuse themselves for explaining things other people already know. Unless they catch themselves doing it.

Which I also do several times a day.

But you probably already knew that.

(Fictional dialogue is tricky, because it's not a thing like real dialogue, usually. But then, art isn't  thing like life. It's life with the dross cut out and the lighting adjusted, so we can see what's actually there between the clutter.)

But, yanno, people like rules.

The problem with "rules" in fiction writing is that most of them are lists of things that are easy to do badly. ("Don't write in first person." "Don't use adverbs.") Unfortunately, if you don't do anything in your writing that it's easy to do badly, you won't do anything at all.

Fail better. Carry on.


New Words:  742
Total Words: 11050
Pages: 54
Deadline: August 1
Reason for stopping: after last night's bout of insomnia, my head is killing me. and my temper is apparently not what it should be.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,050 / 100,000

Caper plots are hard. Caper plots with the added challenge of expositing two alien species, a future society, a whole bunch of technology, the 2300 equivalent of the British East India Company, some completely bogus applications of quantum mechanics, and reality-skin tech? When a caper plot by its nature depends on keeping things moving fast?

That's really sticky.

I need a macguffin.

Stimulants: vanilla tea
Exercise: still recuperating, no exercise. gym tomorrow, I hope.
Mail: nomail
Today's words Word don't know:  contentless, wristlet, anticolonialist
Words I'm surprised Word do know: n/a
Mean Things: Timothy just gave Andre a job. Which is going to cause what we might loosely term a conflict of interest very shortly. Also, it's bad when alien nanotech eats your generation ships.
Tyop du jour: n/a
Darling du jour: With the added benefit that any personal problems one left behind on Earth would very probably be dead by the time one landed on Greene's World, Xanadu, or Yap.
Books in progress: Wendy Moore, The Knife Man;
Interesting tidbit of the day: n/a
Other writing-related work: n/a
Tags: progress notes, undertow

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