A way with worlds: 44 - The Drought
by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum
Page 2 of 3
In addition, there is the
chance your fanfic will be read by someone not steeped in the
original continuity. Writing for them also means that you will
write for all audiences - an excellent skill to develop
especially if you want to be a professional or original writer.
PEOPLE KNOW MY
The fanfic problem also applies to people who write
their own worlds and eventually assume all readers are equally up
to speed. This is not the case - even an individual reader may
not be "up to speed" on one day, and fully aware of
your world another.
Your world is probably quite
complicated and detailed. Your readers are not you - they don't
know it as well. They forget things because they didn't know they
should remember them. Good description of your world and its
elements helps keep them up to speed.
Don't treat your readers
like idiots or psychics - treat them like people. People need
When I edit fanfics and
original worlds, I like coming into a story ignorant of the
continuity (or putting myself in a state like that), unless its
part of a series sequence I'd probably have read. This way I see
it as a story, not as a part of something I supposedly am
THE STORY IS THE
Sacrificing detail for the story - whether to get to the
action, compress the size, etc. isn't really gaining anything.
What you are doing is loosing the overall coherence of your work.
Detail, pace, clarity, etc. all work together in harmony to make
a good story.
You need detail just as much
as you need properly-sized paragraphs or a pace that doesn't put
your readers to sleep.
THAT'S THE OLD WAY!
Those of us who've read early writing, classic novels
and Penny Dreadfuls, have seen some stories with pretty excessive
description. Let's face it, some classic writers read like they
were possessed by Thesauri.
However some styles may
vary, the need to describe things to your readers and to inform
them about important world elements did not go out of style.
There may be different ways to do it, more precise ways, timely
ways. But some way of communicating the world and its elements to
the reader must be followed.
In letting people in on your world and its elements, if you tell
everything, you probably ruin the story (and risk TMI mentioned
in last column). However, you can easily go far in the other
direction and leave the reader completely lost. A mystery isn't
fun unless there's a chance to solve it.
This isn't an easy call. You
have to provide just enough information, plus maybe a bit extra
just in case. This is more of an art - so make sure your beta
readers pay attention and are on the lookout for when you're not
so artsy.Next Page
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.