News overload is a common complaint these days. The world is changing rapidly, and the steady stream of reportage is a lot to keep up with.
Stories run on news, and by news I mean information. Think about it: everything about your tale is news to the reader. You have to spell it out clearly, from the first line of page one. Who's this story about? What are the rules of the world? What happened in the past that’s necessary for us to know to understand the present?
Words like backstory and exposition describe the wealth of information you have to somehow get on the page where your reader can see it. But in a forward moving story the news keeps pouring in, as your hero is besieged with unexpected developments, reveals about the true motives of others, clues to mysteries, and plot twists of all kinds.
Writers need strategies for adding new information on every page. We call this storytelling energy the herald archetype. Herald energy can be as simple as your hero receiving a text, or as complicated as young Jim Hawkins hiding in the apple barrel on the deck of the Hispaniola and overhearing the mutinous scheming of Long John Silver, whom he had considered a friend to this point.
In this talk we explore the herald archetype, including how—and when—to use it.
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