Facts Are Overrated

I’ve been working on a story that takes place in the Tincaniverse. It can be hard sometimes to get the balance between explaining enough for readers unfamiliar with the previous stories without becoming repetitious for those who’ve been following along. Perhaps I should go back and read I, Robot again to see when Asimov stopped listing the three laws of robotics in each story. Now those three laws are such a part of the landscape that other writers invoke them as well.

While that is an issue I face every time, this particular story had another challenge. The story represents a jump in time and space, and a lot has happened to set up the situation. I found that the story was growing as I tried to work in quite a bit of history. The events have been mentioned in previous stories, but there are a lot of details that need clarification before the new story works. More details than I realized when I started. So there I was, several pages in, and the characters were getting lost among all these facts.

All these facts are part of the larger story, however, things I’d like to tell eventually. The answer, I think, is to write a separate story that takes place before the one I was working on, that presents some of this information without being cumbersome. The catch is that for the first time it will really matter what order people read the different stories in. To understand the context of the second one, you will have to have read the first. I’ll try to minimize the requirement, but in the end I think there’s no getting around the fact that some time in the next few episodes the landscape the stories take place in will just be too complicated. Already I think knowing some of the history makes the stories more enjoyable, but I’m reasonably sure background info is not required yet.

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