Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Invisible Exposition

What, why and how?

Like all the greatest gigolos, I shall begin in the middle.

We need to make the reader aware of stuff; we need to give him details and info so that he can understand and make sense of his new environment - so that we can immerse him and suspend his disbelief - so that we can set-up the stuff that's gonna blow his lumpy mind.

So we can just whack all that exposition down then?
Afraid not. Because we don't want to keep stopping *(caveat alert! See below). Because the reader wants to be propelled through the novel. Because the reader is restless and we have to earn his trust, and if we don't give him that momentum, he'll go elsewhere. Because if we let go of his hand, he'll plummet to his doom.

So what can we do?
Well, we can hold out for that valley - *that moment when the reader needs a little breather - and dump some stuff on him there, OR we can impart info without stopping.

We can? Cool.
So we could stop to explain that Roland likes to tease zebras OR we could show Roland teasing zebras.
So now we've gotta go to all that trouble of getting Roland to the zoo just so's he can tease a zebra! Sheesh! That can't be right!
It's not!
We're not gonna do that! What we ARE gonna do is integrate this into the plot.
So I look at my outline and see that Roland is going on a blind date. Lucky Roland. And I was gonna send him and Yolande to the discotheque ... but now I think I'll send 'em to the zoo!

Momentum retains its virginity!

The problem we have now is synchronising the two: we might require the reader to understand that Roland teases zebras by the end of the second chapter, but he might not be going on a date until the fifth chapter.
And now we can see how important that outline is; only now am I beginning to understand how I can make my life soooooo much easier by spending time plotting and preparing.
Yep, I'm a fool, but I ain't done yet!

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