Author Topic: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation  (Read 3522 times)

Miriel

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Re: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2007, 01:52:37 AM »
I think having information come out naturally is a goal of writers.  It's much better, for example, to have the reader learn that gold-worked items are a major export of Minetown by seeing characters admire a gold-foiled box from that exotic place than to outright state "the economy of Minetown relied, in great part, on its fine gold exports.  The people in Laketown greatly adored their excellent foil work, and therefore were eager to trade for..."

When there's so much to explain in speculative fiction, I try my best to leave explanations out, and let the scenes and characters do their work.  I think most of us invent more information in world-building than is relevant to the story, and a lot of this never makes it (directly) into the story.  I try to cut that unnecessary information, so the story can shine.  To make sure I'm not leaving holes in my happy revisions, I have other people read it (surprise).  They usually only come back with a question or two.  I fill those holes in, and let the rest stand.


I think you could do the same thing with a sequel, if you're trying to minimize back-story a lot.  Write it like you assume the reader remembers the story well.  Have some people read the sequel who haven't read the first book, and see what they found confusing.  Add extra bits of dialogue or a sentance of exposition here or there for those parts, and let the other ones stand.  I've never tried this for a sequel (I can't write sequels), and it might not work for you, but it's an idea. 

Shi

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Re: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2007, 07:17:06 AM »
Wow, this just stepped into territory that I've been thinking about lately... and not very lately.

Number one thing I want to know, why in the world would you start reading the second book in a series without reading the first? I mean, it's like picking up a book and starting in the middle (ok, not quite). I don't think there's any reason to try to accomodate for someone who hasn't bothered to read the first, just focus on those who have.

As for the whole recap conversation, I think I sit on both boats. I've never actually reread a book, but sometimes I'll read a book, and the next one is already out so I go pick it up, and am almost driven crazy from having to read about everything I've just read. But I've also had to wait a while for books to come out, and so the recaps remind me of things I've deffinitely forgotten.

I think the best thing is to give recaps, but not to over due it. Keep it short and simple, readers will remember with a small reminder.

pengwenn

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Re: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2007, 11:51:04 PM »
I think the best thing is to give recaps, but not to over due it. Keep it short and simple, readers will remember with a small reminder.

I think if you read the Harry Potter books you'll find that Rowling got much better at recaping what had gone on before in the later books than how she did it in the first books.  With books 2 & 3 there's a big info dump at everything in the past.  Those info dumps (especially about Quidditch) are smaller and smoother in the later books.

origamikaren

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Re: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2007, 07:20:27 PM »
I'm actually dealing with these problems right now in two series I'm reading.  The first is the Pendragon series by DJ McHale. This series has interdimentional travelers going to lots of different worlds (pretty much introducing one new world in each book).  With the made up names of the worlds and people and things in the worlds, I'm having a hard time keeping them straight.  In the latest book, a MAJOR plot point depends on me remembering details of a world from a book he published a year or two ago, and at first, I thought he was talking about a completely different world.  There wasn't a summary of the various worlds in the book itself, and I didn't want to wait the two weeks it would take to order the book in to my library (I've bought the first five, but not the later ones -- there's just not room on my shelves for everything I'd like to own), so I went to Wikiedia, and refreshed my memory, but got hit with some pretty serious spoilers. 

With Mistborn 2, I appreciated the refresher course on which allomantic metals did what, but still found myself wishing for a chart of what the allomantic and ferruchemical powers were.  I found these (with some minor spoilers), where I expected them, in the BACK of the book (though I was surprised that the summary of book 1 was in the back of the book without any mention of it in the front -- say in a table of contents of some sort).  I listen to a lot of books on tape, and Peter and I are reading this one aloud to each other, so it's almost the same experience.  In audio format, you couldn't get to the tables and summaries in the back until you'd already finished the rest of the book, at which point they're moot, and many times they're left out entirely.

While reading Mistborn 2, I also found that my memory was very fuzzy about what had happened in the climax of #1. Brandon's climaxes are so action packed, and have so many twists and revelations, that I tend to rush through them and come out a little dazed at the other end.  When he talks in book 2 about what Vin remembers about killing the Lord Ruler, I believed him, but I didn't remember several of those details myself.  I eventually ended up re-reading the end of book 1 so that I could have some hope of piecing mysteries together at at least the same rate as the characters in the book (if not one step ahead).

So essentially, my opinion on this matter is that you should have reminders of the important details of the previous book in the current book.  You should, as a writer of a fantasy series, be able to expect that your reader has read the previous book, but not that they'll remember everything important. I don't like infodumpy chapters with talking heads -- I tend to skim or skip those -- but characters should be reintroduced with a quick (one sentence or less) reminder of what their role/powers are, and "hard" magic systems should have their rules reviewed so that readers can keep pace with the characters.
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Re: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2007, 03:32:29 AM »
(though I was surprised that the summary of book 1 was in the back of the book without any mention of it in the front -- say in a table of contents of some sort).

I noticed that.  Hopefully the people who want it will find it!
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Shuez

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Re: EUOL: Writing question based upon MB2 annotation
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2007, 11:09:42 PM »
Incredible. I did not think this topic would become so popular. The viewpoints and opinions I am gleaning from this thread is invaluable. Everyone, thank you for the insightful discussion!
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