So I’m writing today and have the odd bit of exposition to contend with and I wonder; how to tell you what I want you to know without preaching or making you read an essay before hand.
Do I carefully explain something only never to come back to that subject or do I just drop it in and wander off? I think that this comes down to how intelligent do I think the reader is. Now one of my favourite sayings (i.e. something I say a lot that annoys the hell out of my kids) is ‘people are inherently stupid.’ It even has its own cool acronym – PAINS (People Are Inherently Stupid.)
But of course this is disingenuous as I consider my readers to be of a higher intelligence; its just everyone else who is . . . . . well lets hurry on shall we? (By the way I do include myself in this saying – I am a firm believer in the Darwinian Awards) So often I drop stuff in and hope that people pick up on the nuances. If its the modern world then saying ‘The President’ is fine; if its some fairy magical land then The President can mean a lot of different things. Do you explain which country, how he or she became president, what powers they wield, does it correspond to our worlds or is it completely different?
How far do you go in explaining all of this stuff? I mean often I have a really good idea of the background of my world right down to its politics and liking for silk under-pants (I lie about the silk under-pants but you get my meaning) One of the worst things a budding writer can do is ‘show your research’. Yes the need to show how bloody hard you have thought about the colour of a dragons wings and WHY they are that colour may be important to you, if only to justify locking yourself away for hours on end with only two lines of prose to show for it, but lets be honest; unless you’re writing some gratuitous sex scene no one wants to know.
I therefore try to aim for a balance in my writing. Dropping some stuff in as hints, almost easter eggs really, while offering up the odd half a page of ‘this is what my world is about.’ On one level I can understand why people write biographies, histories or about real life. Why add to your woes by having to explain what that winged, reptilian that breathes fire actually is when if you just add the words, my son, cancer, child you have pulled on pretty much all the heart-strings you need.
Well good afternoon/day/night/morning/life