In writing, we are always told to SHOW not TELL—but sometimes, we do need to do a bit of explaining so we don’t leave our readers floundering.
Reader to himself: “I had no idea Frances was Genevieve’s second cousin, once removed, and lived at the top of the hill just behind the shuttered mansion! That information would have come in handy when she was stabbed with the knife bearing the family crest!”
No one likes to be kept in the dark indefinitely, and so I thought it helpful to provide you, dear reader, with the following insight:
What Causes Under-Explaining?
Under-explaining can happen for one of two reasons:
1. The author doesn’t know his story well enough.
If you’re writing about a character, setting, or activity that you really don’t know that well, you may fail to fill in important blanks simply because you lack the info yourself.
2. The author knows his story too well.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the problem of our own rampant imaginations running away with us. We see our characters, settings, and situations so clearly in our own minds that we forget readers aren’t sharing that vision. You may know your hero is blond, 6’1”, and about twenty pounds overweight, but that doesn’t mean that information will be automatically brain-waved to your readers.
K.M. Weiland , November 3, 2013