An acquired skill

Look! I’m blogging about dramatic irony, and it’s only Monday.  🙂

You know what’s awkward about dramatic irony?  For the author, I mean — all sorts of things about it are awkward for the characters.

The awkward thing about writing stories with dramatic irony is that they don’t work unless the reader knows more about the situation than the characters (at least some of them) do.  That’s what dramatic irony is, after all.  But you can’t have that difference in who knows what without letting the reader in on some of those secrets.

I’m… not really good at that.  You may have noticed.

Okay, sometimes I am.  But only because I can occasionally convince myself that no one is paying attention to anything I say.  Or that they pay attention but immediately dismiss it as nonsense.  Because it is nonsense… except when it isn’t.

Anyway.  There’s a recurring theme in most (if not all) of my fiction regarding secrets and the characters who either have them or are trying to discover them.  As a writer, I find myself caught between wanting to withhold information to prolong the suspense and wanting to tell everything right now and get it over with.

There’s a reason I drink a lot of coffee while writing fiction.

Does it seem strange to spend a lot of time figuring out background details for a character who’s going to die in the current WIP?

Road trip last Saturday. Four hours each way — lots of time for talking about writing.  History and metaphysics and exactly how certain characters are connected to each other.  Who sent that first archaeological expedition to Earth, two hundred years in the past from current storyline in The Madness Engine.  Why Drake’s ancestors screwed up even worse than the Krell from Forbidden Planet.  That sort of thing.  (And in case you’re worried, no, Drake isn’t the character who dies in this next novel.  Technically, he already… Never mind.  It’s not him, okay?)  All of this triggered by two — count ’em, two — songs by Pink Floyd, which we were listening to because my twin said that he doesn’t know which of their songs, if any, he’d associate with Hrothgar Tebrey.  (Tebrey is more of a Stone Temple Pilots kind of character; my twin had “Meatplow” running through his head when he first really got a clear idea of who that character is.)

We didn’t talk about Tebrey.  We did talk about various supporting-cast characters from the series, and we talked a lot about the “bigger picture” of which the events in The Awakening are a medium-small part, when all is said and done.  We discussed histories that span not centuries but tens of millennia; we discussed the intersection of genetics and metaphysics.  We discussed what happens when a society forgets how their own technology works although they continue to use it.  And occasionally we discussed geology, because driving through New Mexico inspires that sort of thing.  🙂

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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