Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Bluetooth The Pirate: It is perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the internet that materials relevant to but not vital to the overarching setting of a TV show can be segregated from the show.

Seriously, if'n I was writing a Science Fiction show, one of the many things I'd do differently is relegate all the unimportant science theory to the show's official website. Masamune Shirow uses the margins of his comic books to describe his tech, rather than his panel space. I see no reason to do any less.

I generaly like the interactive media better, if only for the fact that they give the firehose of information aimed at the audience's minds a faucet control.

Red Shoe: Seems like you run the risk then of letting in another kind of sloppiness: you no longer have to care about getting your facts right since you can apply the Scotch Tape after the fact via web-exposition. Also, "Look, I know this doesn't make sense. Read the website." isn't a hugely good way to write a story. Great way to make a show that's Better on DVD

But I do agree that the ability to, um, "bracket" the infodump is a huge advantage that, let's call it "asynchronous narratives" have over TV. What I find myself most drawn to are asynchronous narratives that pull off role-reversal between the narrative and the exposition, like a story that's told entirely in the form of marginal notes to a textbook.

I imagine we will see a lot more of "pushing the exposition off to the internet", but I doubt it'll make a serious change in the way scifi is exposition-bound, at least not until the next media revolution. (Yeah, "it'll happen eventually," but they've been promising TV revolutions for decades, without much payoff. I Want My Jetpack.)

Bluetooth The Pirate: Notice I said the unimportant science theory. If it's important to the plot, let it stay in. The fans can have their fluff, just keep it out of my 44 minutes of screen time. I do like the kind of story you describe there, the plot carried out in the margins. I've seen a few, but it's largely an experimental form.

Pushing the excess Expospeak off into the internet would be a bold experiment. The website and show would need to have a cohesive team that wrote the expanding universe. The website and show continuity would have to become part of a larger whole. Perhaps the first program to make good use of this will be a show released to the internet directly. Time may tell.

The interactive media I was refering to were story-driven video games. Well written ones often have an element of collection or exploration, in which background details are recovered that can be perused at will. See: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Spy Fiction, Beyond Good and Evil and many [=RPGs=] for examples. But now we're on to a discussion of "New Media Tropes".

Morgan Wick's two cents: I personally believe it's possible to provide these sorts of details in-show without using Expospeak, if the latter is defined as a style of expository speech one would not find in non-Speculative Fiction shows, but the only thing that comes to mind right now is by avoiding the Unspoken Plan Guarantee. Say what you're going to do, in the words of the series, like "Travel through the Stargate to reach the Whatever system", and then do it. The reader can generally figure it out.

This works fine for simple nouns and verbs. For the history of those things, we don't really need to know those details (though the writer might want to know them). If we do, because it's a plot point, integrate those details the same as you would on any other series. Chekhov's Gun applies in any genre.

Or am I too much of a dreamer?

Lale: The description makes it sound like this is limited to Science Fiction, but I could find exposition via awkwardly-placed dialogue in any genre. (They actually taught us to write that in Literary Arts in high school! I remember thinking how ridiculous it sounded, but it was the taught method for delivering exposition!) Back on topic, is there a non-science fiction expospeak trope?

Red Shoe: I think that in fiction, it largely is limited to Speculative Fiction. While technical writing may integrate a lot of jargon exposition, and, say, victorian novels tend to be heavy on exposition, the particular sort of "And our dialogue shall explain things that ought to be mundane to us in excruciating detail as if we just go around explaining everything we see all the time," is fairly exclusive to contexts where the audience is not expected to be familiar with even the mundane. A victorian novel might tell you, when you meet a character, what his income is, how many servants he has, and how many rooms are in his stately mansion, but you won't find two characters in passing telling each other how a gas lamp works because they've just walked past one on their way to the store.

That said, I am called to mind of the fact that pretty much any time you're talking about Native Americans, and you mention corn, it's basically obligatory to have the next line be "Which they call 'maize'." (Which was cutely mocked in The Daily Show, when a reporter mentioned "a legal maze, which they call 'corn'."

Fast Eddie: Lale has a point, though, that clunky exposition is by no means restricted to Speculative Fiction. Actually, there is pretty strong case for a whole category for the Elements Of Bad Style ... clunky expo, purple prose, stilted dialog, etc, ... that are tropes which are averted, subverted, and committed in all the media.

Looney Toons: As a point of information, the "corn... which we called maize" line is originally from a Mazola margarine commercial of the late 1970s or early 1980s, and it's more than likely it was that which was being specifically referenced.

Ununnilium: Yeah, but at this point, it's one of those... tropes where people have forgotten the original origin. I could've sworn we had an entry for that.

YYZ: I think you're thinking of Popcultural Osmosis or Older Than They Think.

Ununnilium: Popcultural Osmosis, that's it. It's mostly known from imitations/parodies/homages, rather than the original commercial.

Red Shoe: It's been around the block so many times, I doubt most of those who use it today even realize they're referencing something in particular — which makes it Older Than They Think.

But it's got me thinking: while this might not be a true example, there seems to be a class of things which don't osmose into the culture — at least as far as the writers know. So they feel the need to explain them every time they use them, with the result that the poor sap who has to ask for an explanation seems like a pretty shocking moron. That H2O is water and Sodium Chloride is salt; that "lycanthrope" is another word for "werewolf"; what a black hole is. Trope?

Looney Toons: Assumed Ignorance?

Seth: Not bad, Obvious Exposition works as well.

Ununnilium: Assumed Ignorance fits well, IMHO.

Me: For the entry Expospeak, I just want to note my point of view in that the new Battlestar Galactica has utterly horrible dialogue and characterization (particularly Season 3) which I DON'T attribute to lack of "expospeak" or explaining anything. In fact, I feel the characters are often just assigned lectures provided by the writers on social, political, or spiritual topics to whichever character happens to be handy in an episode and no character HAS a defined personality which would support them suddenly launching into a class warfare or a religious tirade.

It's even worse when they go on and on about how pathetic they themselves are. Emo expospeak. (Yes, I know you hate yourself, Kara. Shut up and get on with it.)

Scientivore: I put a summary in the first sentence for people in a hurry. In order for it to flow, I had to remove the next few sentences. Apologies to the author of that eloquence, but most of it was repeated elsewhere in the article anyway, so I hope that works for everyone.

Fast Eddie: Nnice edit. Kept the funny, sleeked it up. Go, you.

Haven Removed this broken link, putting it here in case whoever originally had it finds that it's moved somewhere and wants to reinsert it, or something.

"See also this diatribe against the practice."

TBeholder: if someone here have a copy of "Monday Begins on Saturday" on English, please replace my improvised translation with "pro" variant.

Dok Enkephalin: This article deserves a laconic entry.