Monthly Archives: May 2013

The anti-Reveal

A writer always wants their readers to be saying “and what happens next?!?” TV writers have known about this for decades. It is called the cliff-hanger. A drama series with a cold-opening (i.e. a scene before the opening credits) will have a cliff-hanger of some sort. It will ask questions without giving answers. It invites the viewer to keep watching if only to scratch that itch of not knowing why.

This trick of not telling the audience something can also be used in a different way. The popular website TV Tropes has a term called The Noodle Incident. This originated in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and referred to an incident where Calvin got into so much trouble at school he refuses to talk about it. And they had to call the emergency services. Bill Waterson wisely left it unexplained, because in the readers’ minds “it would undoubtedly be more outrageous”, as he put it. The trope is similar: it refers to an incident that is off-stage or off-camera that the characters know about and refer to, but do not explain to the audience. We get to see how characters are defined by their reaction to this piece of unreported backstory.

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Filed under David Eddings, Doctor Who, George Lucas, Steven Moffat, storytelling

The Edges Of World-Building: Lèse Majesté

Many fantasy worlds sport kings and queens. There seems to be something essentially romantic about a monarch ruling a small country. In the best stories they are adventurers and even heros in their own right. But in our day-to-day existence, us modern Westerners are so far removed from a medieval monarchy that some of the boring logistics of how they worked are forgotten.

C. J. Cherryh didn’t, though. In her Fortress series of fantasy novels (beginning with Fortress In The Eye Of Time) we see a king’s court depicted in quite a lot of functioning detail. Cefwyn Marhanen has an enormous retinue of servants and soldiers just to make his own life happen. And then there are the lord he directly rules over, many of whom spend much of their time at court. And they have considerable numbers of servants and soldiers, as well. And then you have to add the locals of whichever castle the royal court is occupying at the moment who host their royal guests and keep the basic functions of the place working. It is a major exercise for the King to move his court around.

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Filed under The Edges Of World-Building, world-building, writing

Coming down from a Conference high.

Well, Conflux9 is done and dusted and I thought maybe I should blog about the experience before I start forgetting things.

It was the first time I’d been to anything even like a writers’ conference and definitely the first time I’d stayed at the same hotel. Once I’d checked in, then found the conference registration desk and registered, I loitered in the foyer along with other attendees, making new friends and gradually letting people find me who I knew online, mostly from Twitter. It helped my Twitter avatar was a real pic of me, which was not entirely deliberate.

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Filed under blogging, meta