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Author Topic: SF Reading Protocols
BenM
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I thought Jo Walton's post on the Tor blog was a helpful reminder on the subject of writing SF, worldbuilding, and how readers interpret the genre in comparison to other fiction.

quote:
We talk about worldbuilding as something the writer does, but itís also something the reader does, building the world from the clues.
...
Modern SF assumes. ... People who read SF sometimes write SF that doesnít have enough surface to skitter over. ... And conversely, people who donít read SF and write it write horribly old fashioned clunky re-inventing the wheel stuff, because they donít know what needs explanation.


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Robert Nowall
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True enough...it's difficult to sketch out an unfamiliar world while balancing the needs of characters who are a part of the world and aren't unfamiliar with the details and wouldn't need them spelled out.

I don't think the reader should have to prepare himself to read something---I, the writer, should be able to sketch it out, and in terms an unsophisticated reader would "get," rather than put in something that goes over his head or gets bogged down in techno-crappy language.


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MartinV
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A story needs to give the reader enough information to make itself believable. There are a few ways to do that. The problem is that not everytone will be comfortable with the way you pick in your story. Some people use infodump; I for one cannot stand infodump and try to give the information in little packages, sometimes completely matter-of-hand.

It's definitely not easy.


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Foste
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Maybe this doesn't apply to SF but Pat Rothfuss precious small bits of information about the world and once you get them you are glad that you find something out. Unlike Eddings whose entire prologue tends to be a massive infodump. But those are hardly comparable

Anyway I imagine that world building is a tad harder for SF. The world has to be engaging, but the exposition not boring.


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BenM
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Well, the term SF is defined in the article as spec fic including science fiction and fantasy; the term science fiction is used specifically for scifi. I think the implication is that both modern scifi and fantasy require participation by the reader in worldbuilding and some care by the author too.
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Foste
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Hmmm...

Then it really becomes a matter of delicate measuring. How much information are you going to divulge and how much is the reader supposed to participate.

That can be a tough cookie since it varies from reader to reader. But then again it's better than tiring them with paraphernalia.


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