While writing a novel which is a story told of what happened in the past, I am facing two different ways to present information.

For an e.g., I can write the story in the following two different ways,

1. As a Paragraph;

Dr.Zhang proceeded to tell Matt that they will be employing some additional 5 servers as the market research had predicted increase in gamers as well as that we needed increased graphics appeal. I had never bothered myself with the technical details and my work largely influenced and got influenced by the graphics that Kathryn designed. Dr.Zhang never spoke in much detail only the top level details about the schedules, teams and market research were discussed by him. It was now Richards turn to give us the further briefing. The new version of Orbis was to be designed over the top of the previous game engine, which made the technical part of implementation bit easy, but most importantly the major change was needed to bring about in the game play design.

2. As a Dialogue;

Dr Zhang said," Matt, we will be employing some additional 5 servers as the market research had predicted increase in gamers as well as that we needed increased graphics appeal."

I had never bothered myself with the technical details and my work largely influenced and got influenced by the graphics that Kathryn designed. Dr.Zhang never spoke in much detail only the top level details about the schedules, teams and market research were discussed by him.

Richard further clarified to the rest of the team, "I would like you all to remember that, the new version of Orbis will be designed over the top of the previous game engine, which made the technical part of implementation bit easy, but most importantly the major change was needed to bring about in the game play design."

So, given that the information presented is practically the same. What are the parameters while writing that will help me decide which style to use? Does it affect the reader in any ways?

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You are providing too much detail, and it is confusing, and therefore boring the reader. What you need to do is write the take-away consequences of these exchanges, forget the verbatim of what either Dr. Zhang or Richard say.

Imagine you are told the above in a meeting. Now, an hour later, in the break room, you see Julie:

Julie looked up from her laptop as I entered the room. "Hey Fred, I missed the staff meeting. What happened?"

I stepped to the coffee pots to fill my cup. "Zhang says we're getting five more servers. More gamers, better graphics. And Richard was on about game play design and implementation, but nothing you don't know already."

"I guess you and Kathryn will be happy with more power behind graphics."

I stirred cream into my coffee, and looked at her. "Can't hurt. Honestly I never think about that end, I just work on the art components with Kathryn, then somehow it ends up in the game."

"Sure. Did he talk about the release schedule?"

"No, does he ever? Richard would know. I'm going back to my hole."

"Alright, thanks," Julie said, and returned to her laptop as I left.

Generally, if you relate information from a meeting or something that has little conflict or argument; it should be relevant to the story and plot. Either that, or just relate an impression of the meeting, room or characters to make it plausible.

If this meeting serves no purpose in the plot, it should be deleted entirely, and in it I don't see much to hang a plot point on. New servers and installation as a route toward infiltration of the company perhaps? Are you trying to build characters here? Those tasks are better done in conversational dialogue.

If you are just including the meeting because IRL such meetings happen, gloss it, perhaps with an emotional response, to add a sprinkle of conflict. (Or ignore real-life and let those in the know assume meetings happen off stage).

A popup on his screen reminded him of the staff meeting in five minutes. Fred dismissed it and reluctantly saved his work, then rose to make his way to the conference room. Time to waste an hour. How am I supposed to get anything done here? Kathryn's gonna kill me.

If the introduction of five new servers or the changes in game play are not important to the story, they should be left out, but I am presuming the information in this meeting is crucial to the story. In that case, find a way to present it without speechifying, some way in which your POV character is involved and not passive. A conversation, their mental impressions, etc.

In conversations, keep some amount of tension, even if slight. If the conversation is not a "big one" leading toward some change, like this one with Julie and Fred, then keep a small amount of tension by leaning toward minor disagreement of the "that's not quite right" variety, as I did here.

  • Thank you so much for the answer. Like...wow...really...i dont have yet that level of English writing skills...but it helps a lot...actually this conversation as such doesnot have any impact to overall story...i just wanted to show how the life of my character in her office looks like....what are the subjects she is dealing with...actually it could have been any conversation in a gaming company.... – user30875 Aug 4 at 12:56
  • But the way you put it is extreamly implicit...imo a reader not familiar with tech company environment will find it difficult to grasp...i think... – user30875 Aug 4 at 12:59
  • @FriedrickNietzsche Most readers are familiar with company culture; either in person on or from TV or movies. They will recognize pointless meetings, break room encounters, etc. Most have heard of servers and would know more is better. Most could relate to somebody doing their job and not caring about the details of the rest of the operation. If you want to show "life in the office", do not focus on teaching the reader the tech, focus on how the work affects the character; as in the "popup" example. You seem to be trying to teach the reader, but class is boring. Focus on relatable reactions. – Amadeus Aug 4 at 13:24
  • ok...cool...that helps a lot...thanks... – user30875 Aug 4 at 13:26

Well, the paragraph in its early form is large, cludgy and intimidating as-is, and explaining it through dialogue is usually the better way to go with plot-important details.

In one case, the reader is watching a character who's invested in whatever concept that needs explaining, well, explaining it. In the other, the reader is being sat down by the narrator and having information shoved down their throat.

Using dialogue for too much exposition is egregious, and can turn a perfectly decent character into little more than an exposition fairy, but if you're a good character smith, then you should be able to use the fact a character is the one expositing to realistically limit the amount of droning exposition is happening; after all, people only speak so much, right?

Turning exposition into a conversation allows for a scene to do double-duty; explain story concepts/settings, and explore characters.

And while your second example is by no means good ('some additional 5 servers' should be 'an additional five servers', the quasi-robotic explanations of both the doctor and Richard, the weak connecting paragraph), it's still better than the first.

There are cases where paragraphs can be used to skip needless dialogue exchanges, but generally when a play-by-play enactment of a conversation about the topic would be banal, and doesn't explore plot nor character.

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