So, let's say the main characters enter a building, a really big laboratory of sorts. They don't know what was being worked on here, because no one is still there, it's been abandoned recently. But for the plot to move on, they need at least a basic grasp of what was studied here, and the reader should get some background as well.

My question is thus: How can I integrate letters of former members/scientists of this Institution or book snippets on the matter as seamless as possible into the story? I envision this could take quite a number and this place is the main stay over the story, so I fear it would be dull that someone just "finds" a piece of writing every chapter or so. I have thought about prefacing each chapter with one of those writings, which would inform the reader without disrupting the story, but would leave the characters in the dark, which is not wanted by me.

Are there best practices for this sort of thing?

2 Answers 2


I agree that it probably isn't realistic that characters just happen to find random letters lying around every so often. So make it more varied.

In one chapter the characters find a book wedged into an opening, in another they come across a newspaper article someone taped to a wall, in another a bulletin board with the latest schedule and events.

There's more: You can have blueprints, photos, protocols, notes, handwritten notes, presentation slides, inventories, graffiti, technical drawings/diagrams, and, yes, letters.

You could also relay information via non-visual means, e.g. an answering machine, a dictaphone, an automatic emergency recording.


I don't know if "best practices" are really a thing for writing, but I use the epigraph on top of every chapter to explain something is relevant to the chapter or something everyone in the room would know. This was mainly because I hate the "as everyone in this room knows, the current president of United States is..." type of exposition. I found it a nice way of giving information without having someone explain what they are reading to another person.

Now, if you reference that quote inside. "Bob picked up a book by Walter Kine and puzzled over it." and your quote is by Walter Kine, it's a good indicator that the epigraphs are relevant to the story.

So, I'm in favor of it because I've been doing it for years. :D

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