Okay, I can't prove it, but you can't prove the reverse.
I found this on the blog 'Old Picture of the Day'.
This is a man, I know, but you'd be surprised at how few
beautful pictures there are of women with a bow and arrow.
If you read Tuesday's post, you know I've been studying the opening chapter of 'The Hunger Games'.
"Why?" you ask. "Are you obsessed?"
No! But yes! I have a little problem, you see. I had this idea that I could tell my story by letting events unfold and the reader would figure it out, like a beautiful 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Unfortunately, ten different people have read my first chapter and they all say basically the same thing.
That's really interesting and I want to read more, but what the heck is going on?
The first two comments are encouraging, the third I thought would resolve itself by the time they got to chapter three. But they were still confused. What to do? Info dumps are bad. Very bad.
I checked out about ten current YA books and read the openings (and more if I was intrigued enough: Shiver). But I got out a pencil and took some notes in 'The Hunger Games'. (I bought HG. I don't write in library books. Why did you think that?)
I discovered something shocking. Out of the first 109 lines (first four pages), 81 lines are exposition in past tense. Collins spends 81 lines explaining the world. I was trying to spend 0. No wonder my world is murky!
Some of the chunks of exposition are inherently interesting, like when Katniss talks about how she tried to kill the cat or how she and Gale met hunting, but some of it is about how close her house is to the woods, how often the fence is electrified, how the other coal miners are scared of the woods.
Lesson: It's okay to explain a few things. Find what makes your world different and tell the reader. Turn on some lights and let them look around. Just don't describe the china pattern or the brand of air freshner.
Okay, back to rewriting! Remember to never follow the rules off a cliff. Thanks to the many readers who have suffered some confusion so I could figure this out.
Any rules you've misapplied? Any tricks to share? Thanks for commenting!