forum help with worldbuilding (scifi)
Started by @sheabutter group

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@sheabutter group

howdy, kids! I would love to get some advice on my worldbuilding and how it flows within my novel. I'm a huge hater of the "dump everything on the protagonist like a glorified history lesson and move on" trope, so I'm trying to avoid that, but it's really difficult to phrase things better.

One of the main plot points of my novel is an attempted genocide on a group of an alien race by others of the same race. The Hesini Tal'lesans are being targeted and killed by the Byojhi Tal'lesans, who believe the Hesini are inferior. This topic is crucial to the novel, as one of my two main characters is Hesini, so we really delve into his feelings on the issue, as well as the challenges he faces with being targeted.

My problem is, I don't know how to effectively communicate all of this to my audience without making it sound like a heavy info-dump in the middle of nowhere. If anyone has any advice or ideas, I would really appreciate it! :)

@EldritchHorror-Davadio health_and_safety emoji_events

Sometimes, information has to be in place for a story to make sense. In those cases, exposition is a good tool. But in the case you're describing, I think "Show, don't tell" is sound advice.
If you can, force your MC into situations where they see the deep hatred and the results. Maybe it leads to them asking questions, which are slowly answered the more they get to know the Hesini character. In this way, you can establish the character's personal struggle, and the larger struggle of all Hesini Tal'lesans at the same time.
The slow answering of the questions serves to show the increasing relationship between the MC and the Hesini MC, as well. Slowly opening up about heavy personal things makes more sense in that sense than any kind of a big info dump.

@sheabutter group

Sometimes, information has to be in place for a story to make sense. In those cases, exposition is a good tool.

thanks for the advice :] I appreciate it!

Mt. G router

@Davadio's answer is great. A few more tips from me:

  • Show, don't tell: Instead of directly explaining the history and conflict in long paragraphs, try to show the effects and consequences of the genocide through the experiences of your characters. This can be done through their interactions, dialogue, and their emotional responses to the events happening around them.

  • Start small, build gradually: Introduce the conflict and the discrimination faced by the Hesini Tal'lesans in small increments rather than revealing everything at once. Begin by hinting at their struggles and gradually unveil the depth of the conflict as the story progresses. This allows readers to become gradually invested in the issue.

  • Use multiple perspectives: Besides your Hesini main character, consider introducing other characters who have different viewpoints on the attempted genocide. By doing so, you can present the diverse range of opinions and attitudes within your alien race. This approach can provide a more nuanced understanding of the conflict and avoid a one-sided portrayal.

  • Dialogue and conversations: Incorporate discussions and debates among the characters to explore different aspects of the conflict. These conversations can provide an opportunity for characters to share their perspectives, motivations, and beliefs, allowing readers to understand the complexity of the issue without it feeling like an info-dump.

  • Flashbacks and memories: Use flashbacks or memories to provide glimpses into the history and events that led to the attempted genocide. Instead of presenting the information all at once, strategically place these moments throughout the story to reveal crucial details and build intrigue.

  • Worldbuilding through actions and environment: Use the setting and actions of the characters to reveal information about the world. For example, show how the Hesini Tal'lesans are segregated or treated differently in certain areas. Describe how they navigate their daily lives in the face of discrimination and danger, giving readers an understanding of the hostile environment they live in.

  • Emotionally impactful scenes: Create powerful scenes that evoke strong emotions related to the attempted genocide. Show the direct consequences and personal impact on the characters involved. This can help your readers connect with the characters on an emotional level and understand the gravity of the situation.

Good luck!