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 ...
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  • 10.7k
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 ...
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  • 7,891
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, ...
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  • 2,832
23 votes

How do I write about nerdy concepts without sounding like a tryhard?

Nerdy gobbledygook isn't actually nerdy gobbledygook - they're actually saying things using technical words, acronyms, and abbreviations. It's very similar to medical speech in that way. You'll only ...
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  • 1,574
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 ...
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  • 9,691
20 votes
Accepted

How to avoid the 'magic explanation' info dump in Fantasy novels

As you may know, Thomas, there was a question quite similar to yours put by KeithS a little while ago: Avoiding the "as you know" trope in exposition. There were several answers including mine which ...
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  • 2,911
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 ...
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  • 93.3k
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 ...
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  • 24.8k
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 ...
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  • 4,904
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 ...
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  • 2,920
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 ...
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  • 366
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 ...
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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, ...
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14 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 ...
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  • 4,904
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 ...
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11 votes

Dealing with Extreme Distances - Space Travel

If space travel is as common and casual as current methods, then treat it the way you would treat current methods. That is: Take it for granted. Ignore the physics and ignore how it is operated. When ...
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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 ...
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  • 10.7k
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 ...
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  • 28k
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 ...
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  • 7,683
10 votes
Accepted

My story moves too fast

1) Don't worry about it for this draft. Write your entire book. Get it down on paper. Then put in a drawer for a month. Then, when it's finished and you have a little distance, you can go back and ...
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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. ...
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  • 2,911
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 ...
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  • 10.7k
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 ...
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  • 23.7k
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 ...
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  • 93.3k
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 ...
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  • 7,891
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 ...
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  • 7,891
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 ...
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  • 25.2k

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