Sunday, December 28, 2008

... recaps and infodumps

The chapter 10 revision is done. I think this chapter was the hardest to revise so far - in fact I even had dreams about it last night. 10 represents several turning points in the story. Ghost and Lytha are now finished with their original COT adventures and are now venturing into new territory. James finally appears in the flesh, as the sixth principal, with more than half of the chapter told from his point of view (though this is arguably superfluous, as the whole thing could have just as easily been done from Daneel's point of view!). Most importantly though, this is where we take a look at where we are, and where things are going.

Before the revision, much of this chapter was an infodump. I tend not to like those, but that's in the case of the author narrating a pile of information directly to the reader. In this case, it's one character explaining to another everything he knows about what's going on. After the revision, it's now an infodump intertwined with a recap. When I first wrote it I was afraid of recapping, thinking the reader would be bored by having things explained to them that they already knew. Now, I realised that it had to be done, both for in-character reasons (the explainer would tell his audience things that the reader already knew - they wouldn't skip over them!) and for storytelling reasons. The infodumps had to be grounded, completely interconnected, with what is already known. Simply putting the information out there and letting the reader maybe, maybe, figure out how it is related to everything they already know isn't good enough. It's actually pretty unsatisfying. I don't want to name any examples in the blog, that's a little too spoiler after all, but I can give a crude illustration.

The reader knows about C, E, and F. The way the original was written, A, B, D, and G were explained. So, now the reader technically should know what's going on, if they can assemble it all in their heads. After the rewrite, it is explained as A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Yes, it's longer, but I think it's actually a much easier read, because it's not full of holes.

I'm tired, and have gotten a little sick.

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