LNH: Exposition (was Re: LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #13)

martinphipps2 at yahoo.com martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Mon May 1 22:44:16 PDT 2006

Tom Russell wrote:

>    Ideally, a story like this would start with some kind of explanation
> as to who these people are, who the baby is, and why they want to get
> their hands on the baby.  Setting up the stakes and the contestants.
> Then, as the baby-swiping got under way, the reader could get caught up
> in it, could be rooting for one side or another, could care what
> happened.
>    And as it is, this reader just didn't care.
>    Jesse Willey avoids exposition like the plague, and he expects you
> to know who all these people are because he does.  Really, in order to
> best understand Killfile Wars and its tie-in, you'd have to have read
> Road to Killfile Wars, and in order to understand that, Onion Lad and
> Vel, and Flames War IV, and the Team, and Boy Redundant Lad.
>    You can trace it all the way back to Hell's Titans, to the beginning
> of his LNH writing, and find that it really forms one big story,
> constantly building on what has come before.  But even all the way back
> at the beginning, it's unlikely that you'd understand what was going
> on: he hates exposition even at the beginning, where it rightfully
> belongs. :-)
>    A lot of Jesse's writing is full of mystery characters, surprises,
> transformations.  He has a lot of good ideas, I'll give him that:
> there's something deliciously wrong about someone tossing a baby ten
> stories up in the air.  But his execution is a bit faulty.

The problem isn't just with Jesse.  I know some of my earlier stuff
could have had exposition.  Exposition isn't necessarily the death of
story... although sometimes it is.  "He was searching for redemption.
Redemption for what had happened before.  Because it went badly.  And
he wanted to redeem himself for that.  He wanted people to think of him
as a hero again.  And to do that he had to make people forget what had
happened before.  Blah blah blah."  Okay we get it. :)

I think Adrian has the same problem too: when he uses exposition in
Ultimate Mercenary he _apologizes_... and yet that is when his writing
is the most interesting, because the reader feels he is actually
learning something that will help him to understand what happens next.
There's no point advancing the plot if the reader has NO IDEA what's
going on.  I know, to be honest, when I read Adrian's contributions to
the Just Imagine II and President Evil cascades, I am totally confused
and would appreciate a bit of exposition.  These are cascades, for
goshsakes, so they're supposed to build on what has happened before so
a quick summary to bring the reader (and possibly the next writer) up
to speed would do wonders!  I suppose his last issue of Ultimate
Mercenary might be confusing to some because it tied into Flame Wars VI
and requires an understanding of, at the very least, the basic premise
of that story.  I assume that the last issue of Ultimate Mercenary
takes place at a point where the Kirbytroopers have actually made it to
mainstream Looniearth (something that didn't quite happen in Flame Wars
VI but the comment at the end explains that this story takes place
before the amalgamation and subsequent reboot that could have then put
the Kirbytroopers back into space).  See... now I'm being anal.  This
is what happens when you worry too much about explaining everything. :)


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