Tuesday, September 4, 2007

World Building and Autopsies...

I recently stumbled across a blog site written by and for authors called Storytellers Unplugged. Several writers contribute, and already I've learned some stuff I didn't know (or, at least that I believed in and agree with). Here, for example, is an interesting set of "rules" for world-building from Sarah Monette. It's a good read - here's my favorite passage, one that sums up quite a bit of the strategy I adopted when I began to build Kirin's world:

4. Never tell your audience everything you know.

This goes back to both (1.) and (2.) You aren't writing a textbook; there isn't going to be a test. You don't have to explain everything, and in fact you're better off if you don't.

Also, there should be a difference between everything you know and everything your viewpoint character knows. Unless you're writing in omniscient (in which case you, sir or madam, are as mad as a fish2), you need to filter your information through the character. If she doesn't know it, she can't tell the reader about it. If she doesn't think it's important, she won't tell the reader about it. If the version of the facts she's been given is wrong ...

Also, if you have a strong stomach, there's also a great description from another author, R.C. Jones, who sat in on an autopsy. Given the stuff I write about I know this will come in handy sooner or later, but even if your writing doesn't lean towards the macabre, it's still, I think, an interesting read.

1 comment:

rjones said...

Thank you for your kind comment about my Storytellers Unplugged piece on autopsies. If you think you might be writing anything involving a shooting, you might find some information you could use in my July 30 (check the archive) piece titled DETAILS. It includes information about firearm forensics.

Best of luck with your book.

R C Jones