Helen (heleninwales) wrote,
Helen
heleninwales

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How not to use research in your fiction

Over here, in a post prompted by a blatant example of plagiarism, namely the strange case a writer of romances inserting a post-coital discussion of ferrets into one of her novels,coneycat points out that characters lecturing one another about stuff does not count as character development.

As she says, "Now, obviously there are times when they [ie lectures] feel natural--Patrick O'Brian used them sometimes, when the lubberly Maturin had to listen to Jack Aubrey talk about the sea. [...] However, there are circumstances under which infodumps, particularly one character lecturing another, will never work, and that's when the lecture seems to be happening for the mere sake of happening. There isn't any reason why we need to know this information, and the lecture seems to be prompted by nothing in particular. That's when I suspect the author is either showing off a new piece of information they've just learned... or just plain showing off, through the characters."

And here's the link to the author of the plagiarised non-fiction article talking about this reaction to finding his work in a story more notable for heaving bosoms and yearning loins than scientific study of native fauna.

I really like coneycat's Day of the Ferrets as a shorthand for this kind of infodump. I will add it to my collection of reminders, which so far include: Characters Choosing the Curtain Material and Dwarves Drinking Soup.
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