The Slow Reveal

I was reading Dave Farland’s Daily Kick article about “grounding” the reader by quickly revealing the setting, and I started thinking about my own debut, Minion of Evil.

I’m very upfront about the settings in Minion. It starts in a call center. The protagonist goes to his girlfriend’s house. They visit a restaurant named Rosa. Etc.

However, I never go outside the generic to tell you where they actually are, which is unimportant and not that interesting. I did include the location in an Easter egg in Fangs for Nothing, my upcoming book. However, the finding is the fun part as the location itself remains unimportant and uninteresting.

One thought on “The Slow Reveal

  1. Katy Sozaeva

    For me it depends; I like to have a rough idea of the surroundings. Plus if you have the set-up outlined at least in your own head, you’re less likely to send the protagonist stumbling into a coffee table you forgot you put there in the last scene, in this way:

    Sid sat down on his ratty, old couch and threw up his feet on the coffee table. All the magazines were out of date and his TV Guide subscription had ended long ago, so he decided to watch TV. He jumped up and ran over to the TV to grab the remote from the top… (and fell on his ass ’cause that coffee table is close enough to the couch to put up his feet – why’s he jumping up?? I mean, come on here!!!)

    You see, so you can’t just have a person in an amorphous room; you need to give an rough outline of what’s in that room, otherwise how will we know what room it is? Someone walks into their house – are they in a porch? A foyer? Straight into the living room (like our duplex)? They go to a restaurant – is it a nice restaurant? If so, do they meet up with a snooty maitre d’ that sneers at the guy for not having a tie and offers him rainbow-colored bow ties? Is it a fast-food restaurant so they have to wait in line? Or a buffet restaurant where bawdy French farce can occur around the lines?

    At the same time, you don’t need to describe every detail, unless this is a crime thriller and your protagonist is casing the joint. Otherwise you could get something like this:

    Freddy walked through the white front door, on which were diamond-shaped windows forming a square to allow a view through the door. The door opened inward on squeaking hinges, because Freddy didn’t believe in oil, and the doormat was a boring brown shade and said nothing on it. Inside the door, the funk of forty thousand years rushed out to meet him, the newspapers and random junk mail had fallen onto the floor and left a layer of crinkling detritus, the furniture was covered in piles of dirty clothing, empty beer bottles and cans, dirty dishes – plates, glasses, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, cups and the like – were everywhere, and the beige rug, where it could be seen, was dirty and ragged. Right inside the door to the left was the couch, facing the opposite wall, where a television set precariously balanced on some boxes – what was inside the boxes was a mystery, since it’d been like that for at least 20 years. To the right was the wall between this unit and the one next, and cockroaches scuttled up the wall, over the couch, among the trash scattered on the floor, and even some brave ones were clinging to the front of the television set…

    You see how it could get out of hand.

    Well, but I don’t really have a point, I just felt a need to ramble. Enjoy! 😉


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