Saturday, June 9, 2012

Salting in the Detail

Reaching for Ideas in the Swamp of My Mind
As well as 'seeding' plot starters for the eventual working out of larger ideas, a story teller needs to 'salt' the text with information necessary to a reader's understanding of the world that the story is set in.

I was struck by the following example of salting in George R R Martin's A Storm of Swords (Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire Series).

In one of Arya's sections, starting with 'She was grubbing for vegetables in a dead man's garden when she heard the ... ' comes the line, "Two miles upstream," said Tom. "A league at the most."

Yes! I knew a league was two miles. Or rather, I used to know and had temporarily forgotten. There is a lot to know in the world. I was glad to learn it again, because my idea of the distances in the story were getting a little screwed up.

In amongst the mainly non fiction research reading that I am doing at the moment, I am still reading the Song of Ice and Fire. Not just because there are still new things to learn from the way the story is told.

It's also a comfortable read, now that the fever of suspense and expectation is burned away. I have the book of the moment lying open, wherever, ready to pick up for a minute or ten of relaxation. Or when I'm having my lunch. Or when I have ten minutes between things-to-do.

Though, mind you, these ten minute slots are when I was going to be reading on my new Kindle, reading the short stories collection I have had sitting on my computer for over two years. ASIM have new collections out here: ASIM's Best Science Fiction Collection

I think you'll have realised am not totally in love with my Kindle. (Yet?)

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