marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

recent but strange

One thing that happens with reading lots of primary sources and getting into worlds unlike your own is that it gives you bright ideas for story.

Then it gives you a conundrum on how to convince your readers of the idea.

Sage souls have said that the difficulty with a SF or fantasy mystery is that in the mystery you are looking for clues, things that are not as they should be, whereas in SF or fantasy, there is the little matter of conveying what they should be before you get to the clues that are not what they ought to be.  Which is merely a specific instance of the general problem.

It's not even a matter of distance.  Distance may even help.  People can guess that a world with dragons and unicorns might have other peculiarities.

American fiction in the early twentieth century, for instance, would depict a woman having spent a year at college.  This is treated in one story as a mark of extreme favoritism; all her sisters just got to go to the teachers' school for the summer.  In another story, children who thought little of their mother were tartly reminded by their aunt that she had gotten a year of college education, which makes the children look at her with renewed respect.

It's not universal, yet, but I don't think a year of college, by itself, would convey such impressions to any readers nowadays, even in a period piece except for the handful who would know how much college has grown since then.  So it would be a matter to convey this without letting the characters talk implausibly about something they know already, and fast enough for the reader to know before needing the knowledge.

The delights of a writer's life.

Tags: exposition, local color, primary source, the past is a different country, writing audience

  • Hardtack and Coffee

    Hardtack and Coffee or, The Unwritten Story of Army Life by John Davis Billings The go-to book if you want the details of army life in the…

  • worlds and mash-ups

    It's very important to read primary source for a world-builder in any fantasy or science fiction story. Not even from the era you are ripping off for…

  • philosophy of checklists

    was pondering checklists for world-building, and the possibility of one for a superheroic world. . . . The problem is that they are lists, and…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded