Vir's Archive

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reflections on Part 9: Trust, Ego, and Exposition

I Will Trust My Reader. 

Something I still am struggling with is exposition.  Robert Jordan did it poorly -- there would be entire chapters of books dedicated to telling the reader about the world, rather than showing them how that world functioned and the implications of the setting.  I don't want to do it - but the siren song is so damned powerful.

Exposition presented by an omniscient narrator is easy. Its lazy.  Its even a bit egotistical.  Ugh.  But it is so damn useful.  By using an omniscient narrator I can tell the reader exactly what to think about the world, its history, and how the setting works.  That's really attractive, because I like to think the Ecumene World is sorta kickass and I just want to share that stuff with y'all.

But I am not in this to do the easy thing.  I look to Steven Brust a lot as the person I want to emulate.  Each book in the Vlad Taltos series does something new and (usually) successful.  He changes tones.  He changes POVs.  He changes styles.  He frames his stories, and then jumps around in the protagonist's timeline.  Its really impressive, and when it works -- it really works.  It challenges the reader just enough to make the book an experience as much as entertainment.  Even when it doesn't work, its a fun experiment.  Brust challenges himself.  He doesn't take the easy way out.

One consistent point with Brust is that he doesn't just spoon feed Draegera tot he reader.  he doles it out here and there, giving the reader what they need, but focusing on the characters and the action.  His Taltos books are exemplars of creative, entertaining and efficient writing.

I want that.  

That's what I want.  Precipice is about challenging myself - to see where I will succeed and fail.  And so, no omniscient exposition.  I'm at a point now in the book where there is a lot about the world and how the wolflings interact with it that has a significant impact on the plot.  At the end of Part 1 and into Part 2 the reader should see the world itself take on more of a personality.

Say it with me, "trust your reader."  Exhale.

That's tough.  It shouldn't be, but damn... it is.  I need to give the reader just enough info on the world to keep the story moving.  I don't want to bog things down with long discussions of how the gods work, I want to show the reader how the gods work.  I don't want Jarious to talk at length about the metaphysics of the world (not to mention that isn't something he would do), I want him to meet the gods.  I want that conversation to be a give-and-take that gently guides the reader to revelations.

Thinking about it, I have the same problem at work when I am writing analysis.  Ugh.  Bad habits bleed over.


I will trust my reader.  

This is becoming a mantra, isn't it?