he above comes from a flashy new space opera on WebToons, a little tale that is still finding its legs. The reason I note it was the speedbump reaction I felt when I read it. It’s that rocky little literary trick when two characters who should know something overword it so that the reader can pick up a fact they need. While not quite as bad as the writer specifically conversing with the reader (“…for you see, Dear Reader, they had been searching the entire station…”), writers have been struggling since stories got complex and backstory important. Once you got past Gilgamesh, you ended up with characters talking weird and unnaturally.
I remember a friend in Virginia Tech noting this once. In Star Blazers, a space opera we Hokie-geeks dearly loved, the captain of a base on Pluto tells his sub commander, “Have you forgotten our new weapon, Bain? The Reflex Gun?” And my friend smirked, “Of course, commander. We only had to ship it here, get dozens of satellites into orbit to support it, dig a huge gun under an ice sea, place huge power generators and computers to help it fire along with all the support personal required for operations. Forgot all about it.”
Part of writing stories with any sort of interesting secondary (yet possibly important) information is how to convey this to the reader without your characters acting like they’ve suffered a stroke or lived through a gas leak. Keep an eye out for this, in others (so you can see how to and not to do it) and in your own writing (when suddenly things get stupid). Possibly weave the tale a different way, so we see these characters just finishing their full search (or complaining about it). Another method is to have a passing NPC (non-player character, for those who aren’t D&D Hokie-geeks) pass the point. In our example above, possibly someone else asks, “Say, I hear you boys searched the entire station”. Sometimes it might just take a review of your wording, to make something a little more clear.
Like everything in editing, half the trick is spotting it with your inner writer’s ear, catching an unnatural conversation and ironing it out before it goes to print.
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