I’m a huge sci-fi fan. So, it would be logical to assume that I love me some Folklore (or Lore for short). If you made that assumption you would be 100% correct!
What is Folklore?
In Poppy words, lore is all about learning the background details of a specific part of the story. Here’s an example…
I first fell in love with lore as a fan of Buff the Vampire Slayer.
When we first meet Buffy Summers, we meet a girl who’s finds out that she’s a vampire slayer. Just that knowledge alone brings to mind so many question. We instantly want to know the lore behind the things we’re seeing…
- What is a slayer?
- Where do slayers come from?
- What powers do slayers posses?
- What is the vampire mythology in this story?
To me, Joss Whedon is a master when it comes to lore. He gives you the right amount of information, at the right time, and in the right way.
What About My Stories Lore?
As a lover of lore, my WIP is of course full of it. As I’m writing I’m trying to answer the questions that I know people will have. Heck, they’re the same questions I have! As much as I want my readers to get my books lore, I also want to get it myself.
When I was in the outlining phase of my book, I often found myself typing “This is where the Lore goes” in the notes section. I’ve got a few big scenes in my book where I need to convey a good chunk of my stories lore. And the thing I’ve discovering is that it’s tough! I have so much information and back story that I want my reader to know, that at times I feel like I’m lecturing instead of telling a story.
So as I write my first draft, I’ve been trying to figure out how to include my lore without overwhelming the reader. I want to be able to convey it well, giving my reader some answers, while at the same time still keeping them guessing. Here are a few tactics I’ve been trying out lately…
- Lore Shared via a Character – If you’ve watched Buffy, you know that a lot of the lore comes through Rupert Giles. Mr Giles is Buffy’s watcher and is there to help her navigate the world of being the slayer. Another example of this would be Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Both characters carry a lot of knowledge of their worlds, and help our heroine/hero navigate their landscape. I have a few characters that are information carriers, and I’m working on ways to use them wisely.
- Lore Learned Organically – I think there had to be some variety when it comes to sharing lore. Which is why in this method, our characters discover things on their own through trial and error. It’s not all about someone telling them how things work, it’s also about them discovering things for themselves.
Get Ready for Some Symbolism!
To me, lore is kind of like a building’s foundation. When the foundation is strong, whatever gets built on top of it is also strong. So if you have solid well-developed lore, the rest of your story gathers strength from that. But…if your lore (or foundation) is week, whatever you build on top of it will be shaky at best.
And when you’ve got a shaky story, readers can tell!The story suddenly starts to feel weak and disconnected at best.
Developing and placing the lore in your story can be tough, but I think it’s something that’s well worth the work it takes. Stories with great lore, elicit great loyalty from their readership. Tolkien is another master at lore. The man even made up his own language (hello dedication!) And look at the following that his Lord of the Rings series has. Good lore sparks our curiosity, and our thirst for more. As a writer, that’s definitely something I want to do in my books.
What are your thoughts on Lore? Got any other examples of stories with great lore?