on Fiction University:
It’s not always clear which details need to go into a scene, which can lead to a muddy, forgetful scene.
I was revising the opening scene of my science fiction novel this week, based on my latest critiques. It’s a complex novel with a lot of world building, and some of the critical details were getting lost or weren’t triggering the right expectation from my readers. That’s pretty normal for early drafts critiques, but clearly, I needed to establish a few more details.
It would have been easy to just dump them in, but infodumps on your first page rarely work to hook a reader. I had to find ways to convey the important information readers needed without infodumping, telling, or explaining.
It also would have been easy to list out what I knew was there and bombard readers with a slew of details to wade through. That’s not something I enjoy reading, so I avoid writing it as well. A list of random, often generic details does nothing to give readers a strong sense of the world and what’s going on in that world.