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The door irised open.


Incluing is a technique for world building, in which the reader is gradually exposed to background information about the world in which a story is set. The idea is to clue the readers into the world the writer is building, without them being aware of it.
This in opposition to infodumping, where an undigested lump of background material is dropped into the story, often in the form of a conversation between two characters, both of whom should already know the material under discussion. (The so-called As you know, Bob conversation.)
Both incluing and infodumping are forms of exposition and are frequently used in science fiction and fantasy, genres where the writer has the task to make the reader believe in a world that does not exist. Writers in other genres have less use for these techniques, as they can often depend on the reader's familiarity with the "real world".
Incluing can be done in a number of ways: through conversation between characters, through background details or by establishing scenes where a character is followed through daily life. The most famous example of incluing is the door irised open, a phrase created by Robert A. Heinlein and used in several of his stories and novels. In real life, few if any doors do iris open; by mentioning it offhandedly without explanation the reader gets a picture of something both familiar and strange, without calling attention to its strangeness. (Attr Jo Walton) (Source: incluing at Wikipedia )
Jo Walton defines incluing as "the process of scattering information seamlessly through the text, as opposed to stopping the story to impart the information." (e)

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As of 2013/02/09

  • incluing at (, Fritz)
  • Incluing - FritzWiki (WorldBuilding, Fantasy, SciFi, SF, Narratology, Definition, Writing, FritzWiki, Incluing)
  • incluing - Google Search (Incluing, Search, Google)
  • Incluing -- Disneyology (Exposition, WorldBuilding, Narratology, Definition, Writing, Incluing)
  • Incluing -- The Sword That Nagged (Heinlein, Example, Incluing)
    "There's a mutie! Look out!" / At the shouted warning, Hugh Hoyland ducked, with nothing to spare. An egg-sized iron missile clanged against the bulkhead just above his scalp, with force that promised a fractured skull. The speed with which he crouched had lifted his feet from the floor plates. Before his body could settle slowly to the deck, he planted his feet against the bulkhead behind him and shoved. He went shooting down the passageway in a long, flat dive, his knife drawn and ready. / These are the first 85 words - only 85! - of Robert Heinlein's novel, Orphans of the Sky. They are a classic example of what science fictions pros call "incluing." Incluing is the inclusion of telling details in the action of an SF story, details that gradually set up the author's new world. Let's take a look at what Heinlein did.
  • Incluing is not good enough for Wikipedia now? | Wis[s]e Words (Criticism, Wikipedia, Incluing)
  • incluing | Tumblr (Reading, Writing, Philosophy, Paper, StarWars, Media, SciFi, SF, Incluing)
    My junior year at Columbia I took a high philosophy class called “Time as Narrative Construct.” It was a really philosophical class bordering on existentialism. Not sure if I understood everything that was said in the class… But in order to pass the class we had to write a 15-20 page essay on an idea involving time. I decided to do time in a long form narrative (i.e. trilogies. Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, etc.) & how the audience can decipher what’s has happened in the past installments. In order to complete this I included the terms “Incluing” & “information dump” which I reference & explain in the whole of the paper. All in all I am really proud of this. I read the original Star Wars script & used that as a reference in the final product & got an A on it. It was 16 pages long in its final form but the rough draft was 19 pages.
  • Info Drop - Television Tropes & Idioms (Writing, Infodump, Incluing, TvTropes)
    Sometimes the most interesting revelations aren't delivered with a dramatic speech, a round of shocked expressions and a title card reading "to be continued". Sometimes they're just handed out casually, tossed in the audience's face without fanfare or even a helpful sign saying "this is important". In many cases, it's not until Fridge Logic kicks in that the audience has a chance to react. / These are Info Drops, which are to Infodumps what a single stealth paratrooper is to a nuclear warhead. / While rarely relevant to the actual plot, an Info Drop usually fleshes out subtle details of the setting and/or characters, usually nagging questions that will continue to nag the less-attentive. For instance, say a character has Only One Name; there might be an Info Drop where he writes his full name on a check, or perhaps someone calls out his missing surname (or given name), and this is the one and only time it's either seen or referenced. Or perhaps it's never explicitly said when the ...
  • That's just scenery: what do we mean by "mainstream"? | (WorldBuilding, JoWalton, Fantasy, SciFi, SF, Incluing, ReadingProtocols, Reading, Literature, Mainstream)
  • The Other Side of the Story: Ready, Set...Where's the Action? (Writing, Start, Action, Incluing, Infodump)
    You hear it all the time. Make it active. Start with the action. Make sure your characters act. But we've all written scenes where we have to convey a lot of information and there is no action to speak of. We know we can't just flop the info out there and get away with it, so what can a writer do? / I like the layer technique. / On the first draft, I just write what needs to be said and don't worry that it's probably a pretty boring scene. It's critical info, and what matters at this stage is getting it right and getting it in there. / Once that's done I go back and look for ways to add action, which is usually just another way of saying tension or narrative drive. Something is moving the story forward, making the reader want to know what happens next. A lot of times this is just the protag worrying they won't get what they want. / There are plenty of places you can layer in drive and slip it in between the critical info.
  • The Super World of False Documents: Bringing a Superhero World to Life -- Guest Blog by Matt Adams -- The Qwillery (Incluing, FirstPerson, WorldBuilding, Fiction, Superhero)
  • The Virtue of Iceberg Exposition | Write to Reel (WorldBuilding, Example, Incluing, Exposition.Iceberg, Exposition, Style, Iceberg, Writing)
    Incluing beyond world building.
  • There Are No Rules - No Description Dumps! Crafting a Story With Details & Immersion (Writing, Infodump, Incluing)
  • Thud: Half a Crown & Incluing -- papersky (ReaderWriterRelationship, Reader, WorldBuilding, Characterization, Character, LiveJournal, Incluing, JoWalton)
    There's also another incluing trick where you give half-pieces of information that add up but you don't add them up ever, you leave them to the reader to add up. That way the reader knows something that you haven't told them. As a reader, I adore this, it's why I love Cherryh and Delany. The problem with it is when it doesn't work, whatever it was doesn't make sense. This is why my primary question to beta readers is "Please tell me if anything doesn't make sense". You can do this best by giving two or three different pieces of something, and it's best if it doesn't matter whether the reader gets it or not. So if you say "The daily airship from Rome" and then later you say "He was walking that way because he was just back from a stint in the Tranquility Helium mines" you can connect this and see that they're mining helium on the moon to supply airships, and if you don't, no big deal. When you do this with major bits of plot, it can be a problem for inattentive readers.


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