Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wait For It...

More often than not, I like Christmas. Rather, I like the family time, the food (duh!), and my baby brother's annual campaign to win Christmas (he's sweet and it cracks me up). Of course, there are tons of things that I hate about it: shopping centers are war zones after Thanksgiving, holiday ads that insinuate that people that love each other should by each other luxury cars donned with red bows that can be seen from space, and snow.

The one thing I'm conflicted about is the pre-gift day count down. Christmas is the one time I'll let my annoyance and distaste for waiting for payout slide.

Make me hurry up and wait in my entertainment, though, and it's over.

I'm going to go off on a video game rant for a minute. I consider video games (the example de jour) to be on par with what we have to do as authors. Stories are told, characters are created, plot is developed. I've noticed a trend with game publishers (that should know better): expansive epics and complicated story lines that are put on hold until the player has learned the rules and controls of the game.

Now the idea is nothing new, but that is what tutorial levels are for. To have hours of game play REQUIRED before you actually play the damn game should be a crime.

You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

If a writer tried to justify having a primer for their book, there would be no way any reader would tolerate "homework" in order to understand the story. Our job is to weave everything a readers needs to know into the story. The rules and workings need to be natural, seamless, believable or else it ruins the immersion. I've put down a few books and games (much to the pain of my checkbook) because that failure. Sure they got they got their book and game sale out of me, but I haven't bought any of the following releases (and there have been quite a few).

Now, not every reader is as hard-headed and spiteful as I am, but the possibility that your sales could be impacted shouldn't be ignored. So just be aware of forcing your readers through a tutorial level in you story. It may be easier for you, but at what eventual cost? :)

Hrm, I need to drop hints for next Christmas. With my luck, I'd probably end up with the games I'm talking about.


  1. Even Dune had the apendixes in the back, and you didn't REALLY need them. (they did clarify a few world building details) The key point, however, is that the story stood on its own quite well.

    I like my supplimentary info to be just that--supplimentary. There if I need it, but not required.

    Good post!