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Chapter Six: Scary Stories

Posted on 2008.02.12 at 17:53
Current Location: Growling at the Exposition Bears
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: Fallen by Afterglow
Tags: , , , , , ,
    This entry is going to be quick and to the point. (If there's ever evidence that I don't like a chapter, it's that I don't want to rant about it.)

On the Nature of Infodump

    Exposition: We all know what I'm talking about, those necessary scenes where a character gets let in on some large amount of background information that they may-or-may not have known before in order to let the reader know. They are a regrettable, but important part of all fiction. Without knowing the backstory, nothing about the current situations or characters can ever make a full amount of sense.  Exposition (by my definition) can be put off quite a bit into the story until it is revealed, but in the end, if the reader has to know a piece of information the viewpoint character must either figure it out or be told.

    And That's where the problem is.

    I'm sure I don't have to name examples for you of stories where a great deal of exposition happens in the same place. But I will name it for you: an Infodump. Infodumps are not, by nature, bad. They do generally reveal information important to the plot in an interesting way. 


    Chapter six of Twilight was, by far, one of the very worst kind of Infodumps. Where the viewpoint character is strait-out told the answer.

Why you ask?

    I have, of course, already had the answer to the first 100 page's mystery spoiled for me by the large print on the back. That's okay, it was good for advertising, I understand that and am somewhat forgiving. (If not the most, I hate having plot pints spoiled for me) 

    Now, in this chapter we meet Jacob, (Who I know for a fact goes on to be important in later books, or at least the fans seem to think so.) and some one mentions something that seems to indicate that the Cullens aren't allowed on the Land of their Reservation.

    Okay, interesting plot development. I'm good with that.

    And then, without much prodding, Bella gets him to spill out that the Cullens were vampires and the people on the reservation were werewolves.  I mean, he didn't just end with the "ancient story" about the "cold faces" who hunted human beings.  Bella is smart enough to add 2 and 2 and get 4 right?

    Apparently, that wasn't blatantly obvious enough. No, Jacob had to go in specifically that the Cullens were the same people who had made the original bargain and that they were vampires. Bella did no thinking at all. It was horrible. It completely ruined the chapter for me.

     Here is my first law of exposition:
Never deprive the reader of something to think about.

    Part of the fun of this first 120 pages of story was the alluded mystery. It wasn't that I was all that interested in Bella's life, or to a degree, in Edward's life. Alone, they meant nothing to me. (Which is a rant in itself, but for another day.)  Together, watching them interact, was the appeal. That's what's really bothered me, I think.

    The fundamental pattern of actions in the first few chapters involved Edward's abstract distance and curiosity about Bella at the same time as Bella's curiosity was leading her closer to the horrible truth about the Cullens.  This flow would lead, eventually, toward the point we are now, with Edward moving in close to Bella  and with Bella's horrible revelation.

    However, the normal flow of information would not have gotten to this point for a good two or three chapters. So, in order to jumpstart the action, both  of the actions must be moved forward. This explains Edward's second personality and this premature revelation.

    It's not like they gave us (and Bella) the pieces of the puzzle and pointed us in the right direction either. They came out and freaking told us. So much for letting the reader think, huh?

    But to tell you the truth, I could rant about the bugled exposition for hours. As a whole this chapter had a few good bits, but I'm just ready to wash my hands of it and move onto the next.


pocketcucco at 2008-02-13 03:49 (UTC) (Link)
I agree that this whole chapter felt like a mess. The infodump was somewhat interesting, but they come right out and basically tell us one of the most important details of the plot so there's not much left except tiny bits about the Cullens themselves and the Edward and Bella romance. The revelation sort of takes away the entire mystery surrounding Edward and kind of lays him out in the open.

/endrant :D

Again another good rant <3
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