This week’s Writing Excuses was about conveying world-building information without resorting to infodumps. Intrusive explanations are one of my pet writing hates, so it was good to hear these professional writers’ tips on how to get it right.
The exercise of course fits the subject:
Take a spec gee-whiz, and have something go wrong with it. Write a scene in which the main character must deal with the problem. Communicate each of the following:
- How it works
- What it looks like
- The main character’s relationship to it
I’m going to try out a piece of sci-fi tech. It’s not exactly a new idea, but it’s one I’m planning on using in a story soon, so it’ll make a good warmup.
A twinge ran through Casey’s cheek, putting her immediately on edge. There were only two things that could have caused it. Discounting nervous ticks, to which she had never been prone, there was only one.
Another twinge, and then another. A woman passing her on the pavement gave her a curious look but kept on walking.
Putting her hand to her face, Casey felt the fake flesh of the mask sagging beneath her fingers. Trying to remain calm, to avoid drawing attention and blowing her cover, she ducked into a café, hand still pressed to her face, and hurried to the bathroom at the back. Bolting the door behind her, she stared into the mirror above the sink.
The left side of her face was still fine, showing the features of the anonymous government clerk she had been imitating for the past month. But on the right side, vat-grown muscles were sliding away, revealing their wire frame and, worse yet, parts of her own face.
Hastily, she took the slim control box from her pocket, almost dislodging the wire concealed along her neck. She hit the reset button and the left side of her face reverted to the mask’s blank-faced factory default. But the right remaining a lumpy, fallen mess.
So How Was That?
I didn’t feel like this exercise pushed me much. Because of what I write, and because I hate infodumps, I tend to write this sort of thing a lot. Of course that doesn’t mean I do it well, so let me know, how was that short scene? And if you’ve had a go at this exercise, how did you get on?