59 votes

Writing a character who is an expert in something that I can't know

Since the subject matter on which the character is an expert is specific to the world that you created and not related to any real world knowledge or faith, you already know everything there is to ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
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46 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

Some people will believe they know how things work, even if they don't If you were to ask a highly educated person 2,000 years ago why things fall down, they'd have an answer. (It just wouldn't be a ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,669
39 votes
Accepted

Protagonist constantly has to have long words explained to her. Will this get tedious?

It sounds very gimmicky, to be honest. I think you should think of more different ways in which her lower education would show, and switch it up a bit. Etiquette comes to mind, not being able to read, ...
PoorYorick's user avatar
  • 2,852
22 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

My answer is fundamentally similar to JonStonecash's, but comes at it from a different angle. You mentioned the following: the narrative intent behind this is to lower the reader's guard by making ...
F1Krazy's user avatar
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16 votes
Accepted

Using questions in dialog to facilitate exposition

I'm not sure if I am interpreting this correctly, but I would not "mix" character questions with explanatory exposition (or answers in exposition), and I wouldn't make characters too "ignorant," that ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
16 votes

Protagonist constantly has to have long words explained to her. Will this get tedious?

It seems more like a running gag, than a character trait or infodump. Running gags have comedic "rules" and structure, so it becomes less about texture and more about timing. That doesn't mean you ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
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16 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

The most important question is, why does it matter what the details of the magic system are? It may be important for you as the writer to know, but does it matter to the characters or the plot? For ...
JonStonecash's user avatar
  • 5,247
16 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

Other answers have already given you good reasons why it might be a good idea to not spell out the exact details of your magic system. However, if you still want to share some background on how the ...
Llewellyn's user avatar
  • 3,295
15 votes

How to make "new apprentice" type info-dump less boring

There are a few things you can do: Consider if it is absolutely necessary - if not omit it. Spread the information out, intersperse it amongst the narrative as much as possible. Use action - instead ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 366
15 votes
Accepted

I have too much exposition in my stories. What to do?

Those who build worlds inevitably want to show off their skills. The trick is not to be boring. One approach that I have tried to use is as follows: Work out the details of the world building. Write ...
JonStonecash's user avatar
  • 5,247
14 votes

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

Mystery readers strongly expect the mystery to be resolved. If the mystery isn't the focus of the story, you can avoid rousing (and dashing) mystery readers' expectations of resolution by marketing ...
Dale Hartley Emery's user avatar
14 votes

How to make "new apprentice" type info-dump less boring

In reality, a new apprentice is not given a big infodump either, because they would be unable to retain most of it. Since this is an army, they will have regulations on which information to present, ...
Simon Richter's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Should I "tell" my exposition or give it through dialogue?

The thing that is often unnatural about giving exposition in dialogue is that both people having the dialogue should already be aware of what is being said. To solve that problem, you can either ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
11 votes

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

One way to utilize an unsolved mystery in a non-mystery genre story, is to give each of your main characters a conflicting theory of "who done it". Then let their investigations overlap in ways that ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
  • 10.8k
11 votes

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

A story should finish what it starts. You control what, exactly, you choose to start. If you're not going to be finishing a murder mystery with a solution, you need to be careful not to set the story ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.3k
11 votes

Breaking up a talky piece of writing

I can't stand it when people speech at me rather than giving me the opportunity to have a two way dialogue with them. In the same way, I'm not keen on characters in stories talking without letting the ...
robertcday's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

How can I describe technology while avoiding problems with scaling?

One good trick is to choose a point of view characters who is at the low end of technical competence. That way your other characters will talk down to them (and the reader), avoiding technical ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
  • 10.8k
10 votes

How do I describe Newtonian physics to the reader in a way that is realistic yet not too complex?

Describe the effects, particularly where the effects in space without the presence of air resistance/friction differ from the familiar effects in an atmosphere where friction slows things down. ...
Lostinfrance's user avatar
  • 2,951
10 votes

Breaking up a talky piece of writing

I'm starting to grok that the narrative that accompanies dialog has a fair amount of internal thought that is not immediately recognized as such. Unspoken reaction, deepening of the story. This means ...
SFWriter's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

Breaking up a talky piece of writing

I'll say what has been said in my own way: A long block of JUST dialogue is generally an under-imagined scene. The dialogue takes place in a setting, with its own sights, sounds, smells and ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
10 votes

Protagonist constantly has to have long words explained to her. Will this get tedious?

Story actions should serve multiple purposes There's limited space in narration to get across what you're trying to say. Sure, you can always make the story longer - and bore or annoy people. (Your ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,669
10 votes

Should I explain the reasons for gaslighting?

Forget necessary - don't pass up the opportunity for a moment of drama and poignance as you reveal the cracks in your stoic character's facade. Because you have the scriptwriting tag, I'm less ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,669
9 votes
Accepted

How do I decide whether to answer questions, or leave them unexplained?

You don't need to -- and shouldn't try to -- explain every detail of every bit of background you've come up with. If your writing says "I had to do lots of research to write this so I'm going to ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
9 votes

Writing a character who is an expert in something that I can't know

If this character comes back from the dead in a fantasy universe of your own creation, then you can invent whatever you want that advances your story. If this story is set in the real world, then I ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 25.6k
9 votes
Accepted

Describing the taste of food

The examples you bring are of food taste described badly, as @MarkBaker explains in great detail. Those descriptions fail to evoke what they're supposed to evoke, and instead take your mind to all ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Inside your character's head - when does it become too much?

Yes, we all spend a great deal of time inside our own heads. But please notice that we get BORED doing just that. We want some experience, some interaction with the outside world. That's why the books ...
Alexander's user avatar
  • 6,123
8 votes

Using questions in dialog to facilitate exposition

I think it's great if you can work exposition into believable dialog. But the key word here is "believable". The classic case of unbelievable dialog is the "as you know" ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 25.6k

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