Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Monday, May 08, 2006

As you know, Bob...

Some commentary on exposition in fiction. They call them "infodumps" here, which as you might know, are long expository lump paragraphs in fiction. As an author, your job is to give the reader all the information necessary, and keep their interest. This post at More Like This (one of my regular reads) had the following delightful quote from this thread at Lorem Ipsum:

As you know, Jed, David Marusek's novel Counting Heads is an astonishing collection of magnificent infodumps. I don't know if he deliberately did it as a textbook, but I lost track of the number of ways in which a Bob was created who needed to be told, for one reason or another, the background information. There’s the elderly guy whose memory is going. There’s the increasing reliance on subvocal conversations with mentars or whatever they’re called, sentient computers that provide elaborate logistical assistance and exposition. There’s the use of proxies and sims, that allow characters to interact and still have to have stuff explained to them later. There’s the training video. There’s the sales pitch. There’s the nostalgia effect. There’s the going-over-the-orders-to-make-sure-everybody-knows-them. There’s the prove-you-are-who-you-pretend-to-be. There’s the this-is-all-on-TV. If I’m remembering correctly, there’s even the interpolated news story. It's marvelous, and terribly instructive.
And that was one of the comments. Go read the whole thing.

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