A Posit

I’ve got a question. Sometimes I just can’t figure out if something is cool or too  much, and in that case I need a sounding board.

You. I mean you. You’re the sounding board.

I put a lot into my writing. I think every writer does, in some way. I’m sharing much of my research here with my History and Myths in the Books posts, but I thought I’d stop there. There is a possible third “_________ in the Books” series I could write, but I don’t know if it would bore the pants off everyone.

Science.

The Science in the Books.

The Vorator are made that way by a virus. While the viral approach to monster-critters isn’t anything new, I tried to come at it from a different angle. That angle took a while to figure out, but by combining mythological lore and true-to-life pathology and virology, I think I found a good middle ground.

I had to smudge real science in places. How do their fingernails grow longer when they change?

Uhhhh magic? Shh I’ll figure it out.

I originally had a much more science-heavy book, but I took most of it out at the suggestion of early critiquers who said a vampire romance (me: “It’s not a romance.” them: “Are you sure?” me: “Yes, FFS.”) would get bogged down with a lot of science and readers would get bored.

I think science is AWESOME but I know not everyone feels that way. I removed much of the science, which was mostly weaved into scenes with Brian in the mortuary or medical school labs. I still have all that science that I made up researched, and I’m desperate to use it somehow.

I’m writing the sequel, Venator, now. The Venator are Augs that fight back. There are mechanisms in this story that require them to have a fair grasp of science (especially knowledge of genes and proteins), and I’m in the process of researching how to actually, theoretically create this stuff.

The question is, does anyone want to read about it?

Obviously, I wouldn’t write a chapter that functioned as a manual for protein synthesis. That would be awful. But rather, I want one of the Venator to be able to explain how the Vorator are possible. That would require terms like “Golgi apparatus,” “hypothalamus nuclei,” and “secretory vesicle.”

In writing circles, there are largely two schools of thought on including complicated stuff in a work of fiction:

  • School One says to dumb it down and keep fiction light and easy so that you can appeal to a larger audience.
  • School Two says to write what you’re compelled to write, and the people who can’t understand it are obviously not meant to read your work.

I dislike both of those schools of thought. I’ve already included some complicated stuff, but not that complicated. I’m more interested in having someone read my novels, come across a word or idea they’re not familiar with, and be inspired to look it up and learn something.

I don’t want my stuff to read like an engineering textbook, but I also don’t want to “dumb it down” to the point where it’s just a flippant read. I am, in my heart of hearts, a science fiction writer, and I delight in asking myself “what if” questions—and then writing about what my weird, twisted brain conjures up.

So friends, what do you think? Do you think Science should join History and Myths in my books, or should it just be background material?

2 thoughts on “A Posit

  1. C.R. Langille

    I think that you should know in depth how the creatures work. That kind of knowledge will show in the writing. I also think it’s fine to let some of it come through in the story as well. However, I don’t think you should put all of it in there.

    For one, it might take away some of the mystery and romance from the creatures (I’m not talking smoochy smoochy romance). It’s kind of like in movies when they finally reveal the monster and it just doesn’t live up to the image you created in your head. Less is more and such.

    Second, if people for understand the science, they may be inclined to stop reading or skim those sections. I’ve read plenty of novels that get into technical details, and I don’t remember much about those technical details.

    However, these are just my opinions. Take them or leave them. For every person who would skim that section, I’m sure there is another would devour it (pun intended). There is a lot I don’t reveal in my own stories, and it’s hard to let it sit. I want to show everyone what I came up with in detail and let them know that I put a lot of thought and effort into the story. Yet, when I try, it usually falls on it’s face.

    In short, there is no right answer. Do what makes you happy. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Taylor L Scheid Post author

      Good points all around, Cody. I wouldn’t make it a technical manual or anything. I can geek out pretty hard, but I usually warn innocent bystanders before I do.

      Like, for instance, what I took out of the first novel involved a pathologist character in a laboratory standing at a microscope, looking at slides of monster blood. He was making notes about the properties he observed, using medical jargon. I got slammed hard on that by critiquers, with comments like “no one knows what phagocytosis is and it’s confusing so I don’t want to know.”

      In hindsight, I wish I’d told that person to go blow a balloon, and just left that scene in (it was one of my favorites). But I didn’t; c’est la vie.

      Reply

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