Monday, 18 June 2007

Delivery Systems

We've probed into some of the techniques that made Utopia into a winner.
It's worth taking a look at the downers: the turgid setting up.
Jack M Bickham (whose name will forever fill my mind with sunsets) discussed the idea of delivery systems. These are the ways in which we can impart information to our lovely readers, and they have characteristic speeds assigned to them (the delivery systems, not the readers).
So, from memory, here they are:

The slowest of all delivery systems is the exposition. Exposition is like an obese and hairy info dump. During exposition, all forward momentum ceases.

Next up, we have the description. Descriptions, like expositions, kill the pace. However, they tend to be more contained - more focused.

The narrative provides a blow-by-blow account of our characters and their actions. The narrative provides a continuous movement.

Dialogue can be a very speedy means of relating information. It can be edited to achieve a breathtaking pace.

Dramatic summary is the fastest of the delivery systems, says Jack. Dramatic summary is dramatic and event-driven, and it is cut to achieve maximum pace. A car chase scene summarized to a single paragraph is the example Jack uses.

Holly Lisle has some terrific tips for controlling pace. Her ideas aren't that far removed from Jack's, and she takes a more pragmatic approach; practical methods of pacing one's story. Note her thoughts on near and far!

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