Posts belonging to Category Exposition

Condensing the Rumor Cloud

When you’re trying not to make your hints too obvious, or you want to give people a cross-section of what’s going on in a location, sometimes just one rumor isn’t going to do the job. Instead, you’ll want a rumor cloud: a set of rumors with varying levels of truth and relevance. I find the [...]

Dissecting a Rumor

I’ll be honest—when I first started writing this post, I’d been going to spell out steps for devising a single rumor. Then I realized it isn’t necessarily sequential; I, for one, start with the subject and message when I’m planning a rumor ahead, but a lot of the time I have to come up with [...]

All Rumors Are What?

I talked a lot yesterday about how useful rumors as a narrative device can be, but they often run afoul of dubious execution. In particular, I find one treatment of rumors that, unless the whole point is not-so-subtle herding, drops a lot of what makes rumors useful: when the story falls under the description “All [...]

The Joys of Rumors

Whether they like them in the real world or not, when it comes to their own worlds, plot creators—writers, GMs, you name it—tend to love rumors. Why?
Rumors are everywhere. You don’t have to worry about justifying people maintaining such a perfect oral tradition that the one little poem that perfectly describes how to circumvent the [...]

Guest Post: Broken Bridges

UZ’s guest posts continue!

There is a form of dishonesty that has gained popularity in recent writing, which for lack of a better term I will call the Broken Bridge technique. This is where the story presents a question that feels compelling, puts off addressing it and ultimately fails to answer it, but [...]

Reprise: Four Ways to Show a Character’s Skill Without Having Her Use It

Originally posted on June 30, 2009

One complaint people often have about bad writers is that they claim their characters are good at doing a certain thing or have a certain interest, but there’s next to no evidence in the text that it’s actually true. Characters who love books [...]

Expositionary Hand-holding

The other day, I found myself railing at a bit of boxed text in a game module I was being run through (at least, I hope it was just the boxed text and not my GM’s addition). It described a place, lots of visible details that made it obvious that we’d just walked into the [...]

Getting to the Plan

Yesterday, I talked about the problems with having antagonists who Have a Plan that nobody in the audience can figure out. For the writer without an outline, though, or the GM improvising around the PCs, it can be difficult to make absolutely sure that the plan gets across. Here are some strategies to keep it [...]

What Plan, Dangit?

Readers, it has often been said that I like antagonists with Plans. I like antagonists with Plans. I love antagonists with Plans. I love the ones who can tell you every little detail, particularly the parts that you’re going to have to fit right into, but they’ve got it so thoroughly figured out that you [...]

Points of Resonance

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of getting places to resonate with the people in a world and thus through them with the audience, even before anyone actually sets foot there, and talked about what sorts of factors might give the places that resonance. The next step, then, is to figure out what sorts of [...]