I think every writer wrestles with the balance of how much to share. Editors and alpha writers can help with the insights but while the process is ongoing, you’re mostly on your own.
I do not explain the complicated Travail social structure. I do not share Travail Mavarish Seth Ted’s vision, nor the visions of Seth Zed and Seth Mee decas later. I don’t explain decas, stellavel, vyhlla, vyhllaminiums, vyllasethin, or vhyllasetha. I don’t tell what a masq is, nor how they came to be worn. I don’t explain the history of Concentrates. You need to learn these things from the context. Some of that is too ingrained in the characters’ ways to ever be explained. It would be like Humans explaining how and why we’ve come to brush our teeth and the history of the tooth brush.
I don’t explain the involved history between the Sabards, Travail, Monad, Humans and Profemie, and the deeper history of the Travail Exnila and Travail Englis, Humans, Profemie and Monad. I know that history. I’ve thought about it a lot and I’ve written a great deal in the novel bible and other documents. I tell much more about the Wrinkle and its existence in the novel, and why Pram made the choice to be a Colossus, and I tell about his starship, the Pentagon. I guess I’m fond of writing about the starships.
I think about all this frequently in between beginning scenes. Should I tell more? If so, how do I tell it without becoming historian, reporting on these linkages? I think about ‘Lord of the Rings’, Asimov’s Foundation series, and Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’, Michener’s sprawling novels, television shows such as ‘The Expanse’, ‘The Colony’, ‘Dark Matters’ and ‘Stranger Things’, and older shows like ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Firefly’. Those are just the apex material of my thinking pyramid as I write this novel. Each character, era, society and culture maintains its histories. The connections weave through my head and form a substantial fabric, but how much should be shared with the reader?
I pause now to explain this because I write to learn what I think, and to confess and cleanse my writing soul. I confess because I hit the reader with these terms within the novel’s first two paragraphs. Grab on, hold on, if you can. I admit, I like writing like this. To steal one of James Tiptree, Jr’s short story titles to express my approach, it’s the only neat thing to do.
My confession is over. Half of my mocha remains. And look: the coffee shop has emptied. The staff’s voices echo across the space. The rain has stopped and sunshine is visible. It looks like it could be a pleasant walk today.
That’s for later. Time to return to writing like crazy, at least one more time.