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Writing Technique > Using quotes from imaginary sources

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 229 comments Anyone using one line quotes from imaginary sources in place of info dumps.


message 2: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
I'm not sure what you mean?


message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 229 comments Adding background information that has something to do with the story, but indirectly. like something that happened in the past. So you just can't throw it in there. But as a quote from an imaginary source, as it is fiction, you could start off each chapter with a quote. Taken as a whole, it could add up to 20 or 30 sentences.


message 4: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
Ah! Okay. I have not,but I've seen it done. I recently read Boucher's World: Emergent which employs quotes and excerpts from historical texts within the story to give the background needed to understand what the characters are going through.

Well, come to think of it, I *sort of* did this. I needed to explain some history of an organization, so I had the MC discover a letter. It was still something of a wall of text, but it was outside the story.


message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 229 comments Good, I am looking for acceptable ways of adding past history.


message 6: by Andreas (last edited Aug 15, 2015 10:14PM) (new)

Andreas Laurencius (andreaslaurencius) | 19 comments We may also write the background information as a character's inner dialogue/thought/memories, or a letter the character read, like Christina said.


message 7: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Robert wrote: "Anyone using one line quotes from imaginary sources in place of info dumps."

Nope. We just embrace infodumps. I have read a number of books that do this, however. One book I just read quoted excerpts from an investigative report on the incidents in the novel at head of each chapter. I've seen that done elsewhere and it can work pretty well. I believe it's a technique of longstanding.


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Penn (richardpenn) | 758 comments Quotes from the Encyclopaedia Galactica were a major feature in Asimov's Foundation series, as I recall. Certainly a familiar ploy, and certainly smoother than having a pair of characters interview each other.


message 9: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 229 comments Owen, the pages you spent on the exact reasoning of how the space jumping worked in The Alecto Initiative (Loralynn Kennakris #1) didn't line up with the rest of the story for me. It sailed straight through start to finish for me except for that section. I really like to know how things work, but that section for some reason, seemed like the printing was in a different dimension than the rest of the text. If I start reading math equations my mind automatically wanders. Always has. Put it in english and I can stick it out. That was the effect I experienced, it was so much like math it seemed real, to the point that my mind didn't want to lock in. The story was terrific.

I'll have to read that section again and see if it makes for smoother reading. Sometimes that happens. Maybe having seen it before helps otherwise I don't know why. I do know it doesn't work with math books.


message 10: by Richard (new)

Richard | 490 comments Mod
I did an entire book like it, with "quotes" from philosophers, geologists, botanists, artists, fiction writers, historians, comedians - everybody. Go for it.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 110 comments I've used it not merely for info-dumps but also for giving a feel to the world or depth to a background.

“The rise of a favourite resembles the gyrations of an erotic dance, one discarding principles in the same tantalising but inevitable manner as the other discards clothing”

The wisdom of Bow Dan


message 12: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 563 comments Jim wrote: "I've used it not merely for info-dumps but also for giving a feel to the world or depth to a background..."

Exactly. Frank Herbert did this in Dune. I've not published anything with this device in it, but an unfinished sequel to my unpublished first novel does. Beginning with:

"There is darkness in the heart of every killing machine—a brooding watchfulness, a silent, passionate yearning, an unfulfilled desire tempered only by that voice which counsels patience: not yet, not now, wait and see. Wait and see.

And from darkness—born perhaps of the metals, silicates, crystalline polyresins and heatless energies from which its life is wrung—rises our cold terror at the killing machine's existence. What being of flesh can fathom the depths of darkness hidden within such a construct? What being of warmth and nurturing can gauge the limits of its chilling brutality?

But look into those black, lifeless eyes...can you not feel the wellspring of its darkness? Can you not sense, beneath its placid stance of servitude, the tenuous balance maintained therein between inaction and unrestrained violence?

Then know that darkness was in the heart of Gelidmati. For it was of the Hakari: the killing machines."
~The Year Sixteen, Memoirs of Bakti


message 13: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) | 1213 comments Mod
Richard wrote: "I did an entire book like it, with "quotes" from philosophers, geologists, botanists, artists, fiction writers, historians, comedians - everybody. Go for it."

You did, didn't you? But to be honest, your book felt more like a conversation with the narrator where these bits came up as punctuating some argument or another.


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim | 110 comments My most recent use is in 'Flotsam or Jetsam' http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flotsam-Jetsa... where I 'quote' over three hundred words from an 'imaginary book'
I do it right at the start, not so much as an info dump, but more as a way to set the scene and give the story an 'edge'.


message 15: by Richard (new)

Richard Penn (richardpenn) | 758 comments Blimey, I'm starting to feel left out for _not_ using this device, now! I do have fifty-page glossary at the back, though.


message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim | 110 comments Richard wrote: "Blimey, I'm starting to feel left out for _not_ using this device, now! I do have fifty-page glossary at the back, though."

given the size of a lot of e-books nowadays, fifty pages is virtually a book in itself :-)


message 17: by Richard (new)

Richard Penn (richardpenn) | 758 comments Yeah, I originally thought I'd make the glossary a separate book, and give it away, but it seemed simpler to put it in the back of the novel. I also started out putting all the illustrations at the back, but I made a new edition and put them in line with the text - save on info-dumps.


message 18: by Charles (new)

Charles Murphy | 22 comments I haven't used it for my first book but it's a useful tool. 2000 AD's Nikolai Dante used it for exposition, recaps, scene-setting and giving extra weight to the series (if future people are writing about even Dante's minor exploits you know something big will go down) and it worked.


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Boucher's World: Emergent (other topics)