An Inside Look at Revision: Conveying Political Complexity without Confusion

Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation is available on Amazon and Smashwords. I posted notes about the process of revision for every chapter.

Chapter 6

Just as it can be difficult to remember what a characters doesn't know, it is immensely difficult to describe a political situation without getting bogged down in textbook-like explanations.

In Chapter 6 of Aubrey, Aubrey is interrogated by politically-minded individuals, a scene that occurred in almost every revision. At one time, it disappeared, but when I brought it back, I brought it back nearly intact.
Dulcibel : A Tale of Old Salem
by Henry Peterson*

There are, of course, a few differences. In the original version, my character Charles Stowe showed up for the first time at the interrogation. But many of my major players were all in that original chapter, not to mention all the gossiping, politically-minded men.

And I think of this chapter as my political chapter, my attempt to show the complicated ins an outs of a single organization. This type of thing is not easy to write. It is much easier to write institutions as monolithic/all-of-a-piece, hence Avatar (at the worst) and Star Trek (at the more understandable). Creating an institution split by rivalry and back-stabbing runs the risk of confusing the reader. The reader should think, That's just like real life! not Wow, the writer isn't being consistent!

Of course, it helps if the reader thinks that institutions are not monolithic in the first place. But still the writer is ultimately responsible for making this clear. The writers who seem to do this with relative ease--Cherryh, Tolkien--do it by never straying from the immediate moment. Nothing is explained ahead of time. Tolkien conveys an enormous amount of complex historical information about the Ring in Elrond's Council, but he leaves the equally complex backgrounds of Rohan and Gondor to their appearances in the trilogy. At that point, most of the information is conveyed to and through the hobbits.

Sometimes, one can't help wishing this part of the writing/reading process could be like The Matrix: upload the necessary exposition directly into the reader's head!

*This is an illustration from the listed book. The book is a work of historical fiction.

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