Friday, November 27, 2009

Many Ideas or One Idea - or Both

I read Present one idea at a time and let others build upon it after finding it linked in Hacker News. My first response to the title, even before I clicked on the link, was that it was probably going to be a restatement of the amateur SF writer's error of trying to dole out ideas in their stories. Ideas are plentiful, trying to not put them in stories, apparently because they believe there should be only one or a few ideas per story is one reason most amateurs have a hard time writing good science fiction.

On reading the essay, I realized Sivers had an excellent point, but it was a point about feedback. Presenting one idea at a time makes it easier for readers to give good feedback, and they are therefore more likely to provide it.

I wonder if there is any way to combine the two views? To provide more background and context, with the necessarily larger numbers of ideas being presented, while still getting useful feedback from readers.

Added: I linked to this on LW and added this in the comments there:

One idea at a time is great for getting feedback. It is not so good for a reader trying to develop understanding. And the "sequences" don't really help much, trying to read/reread several to try to get context for understanding something is too choppy. I don't know what the best trade-off may be, but I can hope things will improve.

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