Title is optional? What mockery is this‽

(Interrobang dedicated to Gar-Gar)

 

I discovered a thing! It’s called Write Club! And it’s awesome!

Apparently, my university has a Write Club that I didn’t find out about until recently. Tonight was my first attendance and I quite enjoyed myself. I’m still a bit hyper off the excitement of meeting new people weeeee

*ahem*

I got a couple critiques on my current WIP, Corrupted, and I thought I would discuss them with you all. You’re okay with that, right? You’re interested and stuff, right?? Right???

The critiques all boiled down to one big idea — Information. What information are you giving your reader? Should you? Similarly, what information are you hiding from him and should you? What balance of hidden and given information will keep the reader reading?

I didn’t expect to have this balance right on my first draft, especially with my minimal experience. That said, the people in Write Club who critiqued the first bit of my novel suggested I add information that I thought was fine to leave until later.

(Side note: They pointed out some very useful things. I’m not trashing their advice — any and all advice is helpful and welcomed. Such is human nature that advice contradicting my thought will get extensive attention until I understand it fully, which is why I’m focusing on this advice.)

With the last 20% or so to write, I’m not too concerned with figuring it out immediately. I’ve added some notes for revision, when I get there, and started looking at things from a slightly different perspective. The critiques did their job and I can’t complain with that result.

So my question to you all is thus: How do you decide what information to give your reader and when?

As a reader, when do you expect to know what the protagonist looks like, what his friends and family are like, what his social status/job is? What about information about the world, it’s political state, its geography, its technology?

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on February 14, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Your use of my favorite punctuation outweighs the indignation I feel toward being called Gar-Gar. Marginally.

    From a writing perspective, I don’t have a whole lot to say about the flow of information in a story. I know, however, that among the many flaws in my incomplete NaNo manuscript from 2009 a scene consisting entirely of a character reading a history book alone stands out as a big one.

    From a reading perspective, I’d say too much is better than too little. I’m a big fan of the milieu; I love learning about the world and workings of a story. At times, the drive to know more can even make me look past other flaws in the story (like the quality of characters in some Final Fantasy games…). I think this trait also reflects in how I plan my stories, with piles of notes on ideas and events but comparatively very little about the characters.

    • D’aww, don’t like the name?

      I think I might take your “too much is better than not enough” approach in revisions. Just toss in tons of info then tease out what’s not needed. Definitely going to add more detailed information about the world.

      One thing I noticed I always leave out is physical descriptions of characters. I feel weird describing the character from whose PoV I’m writing, so sometimes I wait until another scene haha

  2. Congratulations on having the balance right on the first round! This is something I fail at, especially when it comes to characters. It all simmers and swirls in my head for so long that it’s hard to know if I’ve said enough. (And usually, I haven’t.)

    As a reader, I like information, especially stories within the stories. I bask in the bunny trails into history that Tolkien weaves into The Lord of the Rings, especially on subsequent journeys through the books. Some information belongs earlier in the story than not (like a general idea of the protagonist’s physical features, the factors that influence them most, etc.), but it really depends on the story. After all, the Twilight Zone episode “The Eye of the Beholder” would be very different if you knew both how everyone looked right off the bat.

    • Your comment about “Eye of the Beholder” reminded me of a short story I’d read with a similar mechanism, but I couldn’t recall what it was called or who had written it. After googling various parts of the story that I could remember, I figured out that it was “Youth” by Isaac Asimov (I’m a terrible person for forgetting a story written by him). It’s a really neat story, and it’s in the public domain, so I recommend reading it if you haven’t yet.

    • Subplots and different PoV characters are great to add the stories within stories. That said, it’s tough to add those in on a first draft.

      I know exactly what you mean about the simmering and swirling in your head. The entire lore, logic, and existence of your fictional world becomes second nature to you, so you take certain bits of information for granted. Then you forget to tell your reader about it. Oops.

      On the opposite end of the spectrum is too much information, like info dumps and unnecessary flashbacks. My mother recently finished the 6th book in a series and complained about how the author went on for paragraphs on end reminding the reader of what happened in previous books. Nothing interesting happened until 500 pages in.

      Such a thin line we must find!

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