Hot answers tagged

22

Nerdy gobbledygook isn't actually nerdy gobbledygook - they're actually saying things using technical words, acronyms, and abbreviations. It's very similar to medical speech in that way. You'll only sound like a tryhard if you're sticking pseudo technical made up words in that don't actually mean or say anything. The first step is to figure out what ...


15

It's actually totally easy. Just let your characters interact with their environment in a natrual way. Here's a real world example, showing different systems of paying the fare for a public bus: Out of breath from running to the bus stop, John was still struggling with the ticket machine when the bus approached around the corner. (Konstanz, Germany) ...


13

Lauren gave the single most universal method - let me expand on that. Note there doesn't have to be a literal character for the cabbagehead - a virtual one will do. Get some quotes from 'MYTO for dummies'. Get a cautionary work safety series series "Accidents resulting from and involving mishandling MYTO". Outright break the fourth wall having the omniscent ...


12

Introduce a cabbagehead character. "Cabbagehead" is a term from Phil Farrand, who wrote the Nitpicker's Guides to various Star Trek series. He points out that particularly in NextGen, it became necessary for one person to abruptly (and temporarily) develop the IQ of a head of cabbage, so that the other characters could explain the situation and the audience ...


11

Short answer: Give hints along the book. Make the character notice stuff. It will make the "dump" shorter, even convert it into a short reference to scenes that happened. Find a way to imbue feelings or actions in the section. More on that: Include at least some action. Surely there is something that sets off this train of thought. Try and be as brief ...


10

If space travel is as common and casual as current methods, then treat it the way you would treat current methods. That is: Take it for granted. Ignore the physics and ignore how it is operated. When you get in a car to drive, you barely even think about how you operate it, much less the physics of internal combustion engines, or the mechanics of universal ...


10

Lauren's and SF's answers give good advice for dealing with the necessary explanation. My additional advice is: make sure it's really necessary. Driving a car is a pretty complex task (ask anyone who's taught a teenager :-) ), and there are cases where it might be important to describe in detail the revving of the engine, the easing-out of the clutch, the ...


8

There is one fault with the previous answers by Dale Emery and Henry Taylor, and that is that the basic principles of sailing and combustion engines are a part of every school kid's education. And if something new is invented, as for example solar cells, it is extensively described and explained in popular media from newspapers to television. Any educated ...


8

Is there's anything distinctive about the people of the area? Something that you could show in her rural location and then have her find familiar or comforting in the city? Alternatively, cities tend to have a wide range of people in them, so maybe there is some element of the xenotic (apparently not a word) that you could use to contrast with everyone ...


8

1) Don't worry about it for this draft. Write your entire book. Get it down on paper. Then put in a drawer for a month. Then, when it's finished and you have a little distance, you can go back and see where there's room to insert other scenes and slow events down. You don't want to kill the momentum of your writing by spending so much time fussing over ...


8

I think it depends on what the main problem is in the novel. If the main problem is technical in nature, the reader needs to have some sense of what it technically possible. If the main problem is psychological or moral, however, what matters is the decision to use or not use the power in question. There is a whole cottage industry online doing "if A has ...


6

Find and emulate a writer you like who uses technology in his stories without resorting to jargon or interrupting the narrative flow. Michael Crichton does an excellent job of this! He writes compelling stories about people faced with the effects of technology. He occasionally uses the prolog to establish some background information. But from there on, his ...


6

Ryan, you cannot guess what will be interesting to your readers. Viktor Frankl, when he wrote his classic book "Man's search for meaning", didn't want to share his personal story first, as he thought it would look like he wanted sympathy, and distract from his message. Yet because of his personal story, his book became a best seller, and helped expand his ...


5

If you think there is too much exposition, there probably is. Then again, even if you don't think so, the reader may. The fact that you are questioning is the important part. Asking these questions forces you to make choices. Making decisions (and sticking to them) is a crucial part of the process. I would say that pretty much anything can be ...


5

I agree totally with Dale Emery, but would perhaps use a long train/boat ride as the metaphor. Not only should the average passenger (a.k.a. the reader's point of view) be uninformed of how the vehicles operate, or the physical principles behind their locomotion, such passengers should not even recognize that their ignorance is unusual. Their attention ...


5

The best way is to either become enough of a "nerd" yourself to speak the lingo, or find someone who can help (keshlam mentioned this in comments) The trick with much of the lingo is that subcultures invent such lingo to allow themselves to quickly and succinctly describe things that matter. As a result, such lingo has a tendency to get quite precise. ...


4

As you may know, Tommy, there was a question quite similar to yours put by KeithS a little while ago: Avoiding the "as you know" trope in exposition. There were several answers including mine which boiled down to the desperate need to introduce more drama into the explanation or we're all gonna die! The drama could be in the form of character conflict ("Why ...


4

Good question. I'm tossing and turning over a one-and-a-half page info dump at the end of my first chapter (psychiatric drama). There's no way anybody gets it if it's not explained, right? There's only so much random dialogue you can propagate before you just have to go for it. You can do it in bits and pieces like The Will and The Word from Eddings' ...


3

Show the guy who modified it leading a training session to teach others how to use it. Doesn't have to be a classroom setting; it could be on-the-job or in-the-field. This gives you plenty of opportunities to have the students ask the questions that the reader will want to know the answer to. A whole room full of cabbageheads, so to speak, although for good ...


3

Show it breaking or failing to work as intended. You can describe the steps to get it working again as well as explaining why.


3

The ancient mantra of "show, don't tell". Bad news: Your work will grow. For one paragraph of "tell" there's usually a page or two of "show". Good news: Your work will be more interesting. For one boring paragraph of "tell" there's a page or two of interesting "show". Create side-threads unrelated to the main story, that use the elements of exposition as ...


3

Is there a good reason for the expository sections to be in the book? If you were to remove them entirely, would the book suffer? If the answers to both of these questions is "no", then I suggest removing these sections entirely, or at the least paring them down. However, things are rarely so simple. Sometimes writers put scenes in a book simply for color, ...


3

Yes, self-doubt is part of the process. Write it, polish it as much as you can bear, and hand it off to some friends who are capable of giving you good feedback. Or find a professional editor. Particularly for an autobiography, you should get an outside opinion (or six) about what in your life might interest others.


3

The point is all novels require info dumps, but you as the author has to find a way of putting across the information as entertainly as possible. To do it entirely as narration is a major fail. Consider the Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. He had to put about three major info dumps in that novel. In one he used a flashback to get across the origin of ...


3

Describe the effects, particularly where the effects in space without the presence of air resistance/friction differ from the familiar effects in an atmosphere where friction slows things down. Thucydides' answer to your question in Worldbuilding SE gave several possibilities, e.g. "Kinetic energy weapons will go until they run into something." Since your ...


3

How well do YOU understand the physics of what the character is doing? If you have a detailed, fully internally consistent process worked out, then you can probably just allude to it in very general terms if the in world population wouldn't understand it (and perhaps the character himself doesn't have the scientific vocabulary to articulate it if he is the ...


2

The common way to remove info dumps is to sprinkle the knowledge throughout the book, as the character encounters it or thinks about it. Might that work here? That is: Sprinkle some of the revelations and the MC's doubts earlier into the story. The MC might have a puzzle, then let it go without resolving it. Or experience a moment of doubt, but then talk ...


2

One thing I would suggest is to know your audience and your characters. For example, if you're writing from the perspective of a particular character (either first-person or third-person limited), then you want the following: Your readers to identify with that character in some way, and That character's thoughts, words, and actions, to correspond with his ...


2

As another example, Asimov's Foundation series does a good job of this. You say, "I want to be able to write about spacecraft in space as authors in the golden age of sailing would write [about] sea ships on the sea." In that case, you cannot ignore the technology of spacefaring. Those ships in the golden age of sailing were the technological marvels of ...


2

I wanted to give another answer that goes in a different direction than my first. Write down every detail about what you're dumping about. Then look at each detail. Is it REALLY vital that the character know everything that there is to know about the entire history and every nuance of the magic? Probably not. You may feel it's vital, but it's probably not. ...



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