THE KEYS TO GOOD SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY STORYTELLING

Something prevented him from leaving. But he couldn’t figure it out! He Couldn’t putting me Writing strong exposition in speculative fiction (or SF, the umbrella term for fantastical fiction genres such as science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and horror) is a balancing act. It’s like watering a plant. Too little water and it dries up and dies; too much water and it rots and drowns. Information is to your audience what water is to a plant—it’s the life of the story, and yet you have to keep it in balance. Too much raw information up front and the reader can’t keep it all straight; too little information and the reader can’t figure out what’s happening. The result in either case is confusion, impatience and boredom.
This balance is key in any kind of storytelling, but is especially difficult to achieve in science fiction and fantasy because our stories take place in worlds that differ from the known world. We not only have to introduce characters and immediate situations, we also have to let readers know how the rules of our universe differ from the normal rules and show them the strangeness of the place in which the events occur.
—by Orson Scott Card
The trick is to reveal information very carefully, and usually by implication. The best way to tell you what I mean is to show you, using the opening line of Octavia E. Butler’s novel Wild Seed. (I’ve chosen this book because nobody handles exposition better than Butler—and also because it’s a terrific novel that you ought to read for the sheer pleasure of it.)
Here’s the first sentence:
Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of one of his seed villages.
You have just been given an astonishing amount of information—but it has been done in such a way that you probably aren’t aware of how much you already know.
Let’s take a look at some factors to consider at your own story’s opening.

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