Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Still with Orson Scott Cart - Narration
Still gleaning things of interest from How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This time it's on Narration. That means getting the facts across. The one interesting comment from him speaks about how much to tell the reader. You don't want to leave the reader in the dark hole of not enough knowledge to follow the story. He recommends telling the reader jjust what the main character knows and no more. This is good advice.
Where I disagree with him is that he says the narration of needed information is different in writing science fiction and fantasy is different from other genres. He speaks of information dumps done in the tell fashion. I've seen this in other genres. Maybe it's not so bad as in the older stories I read, the ones where I tend to skip long passages of explanations of some fact. Seen this done in mysteries and in romances I've read. Places where the writer suddenly puts in dry passages of facts they feel the reader has to know. There are ways to get this information across.
One is through dialogue but that can turn into an information dump, too. When there are pages of one person explaining to another some facts the reader should know to keep them reading on. Using inner dialogue as in memories is another way to show this information but this two can become an information dump. Showing the character interacting with the new information can also turn into an information dump. Sure no matter what you're writing the reader needs to know certain things about the world you've created no matter where and when in time you're writing about.
Is there a solution? Maybe. I try to do this gradually and through the character's eyes. Does it always work? Probably not, but that's the fun of writing. Trying to make the stories and the information clear to the reader and to make it fun to read.