Writers Showing Their Work In Their Stories

Rather than derailing the Wrong But Persistent Tropes discussion, starting a new thread. :slight_smile:

In contrast with the inaccurate tropes spread by lazy creators, some authors and creators actually spend the time doing the research and working out a consistent world, or at least learning about how the real world works. And, frequently, this can result in boredom, because the author wants to show off what they’ve made or what they’ve learned, but, even more frequently, it leads to concentrated awesome, because the world is that much more consistent.

Two examples for me in this regard:

General example is Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems; they’re internally consistent, logical, and have a place in their world, rather than being bolted on to a pseudo-medieval setting. He’s made an entire rule of writing around this.

But an even more specific example would be the Missile Lock scene in The Incredibles. Why? Because Elastigirl not only gets to show off her awesome piloting skills, she is using actual piloting jargon while doing so. It sells that much more immersion, and allows her to communicate both the emotional and technical aspects of what her situation is without needless chatter. Or, to summarize, it not only “sounds right”, it is right, and that makes the scene that much more intense and feels almost unscripted.

So, what are examples of moments when the writers and creators clearly did their research, and managed to integrate that work into the world so seamlessly that it belongs there?


Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I’m a bit of a computer geek, so maybe talk about encryption is a bit more comprehensible to me, but Stephenson clearly knows what he’s talking about.

Anything by Terry Pratchett. I swear, I read something he’s written, think of something as just a joke, and…
Wait, semaphore towers are real?


Jumper, by Steven Gould.

The teenage protagonist, David Rice, discovers he can teleport to places he’s been in the past. Rice proceeds to explore the limits of his ability, wondering things such as whether the increased rotational velocity of being at higher altitudes would be a problem teleporting to lower altitudes. In this case, the answer is, “no.”

I love it when an author can address what could be plot holes by acknowledging the issue, and moving on. Gould establishes that the teleportation breaks the known laws of physics, then proceeds to define the limits of the power, and sticks to those limits (well, in the first book, anyway :slight_smile: )

This is a great topic and good writers deserve the credit for their creativity. The topic title could be a bit more self-explanatory, though.


Melissa F. Olson. In one of her Urban Fantasy books, the protagonist has a fight in an abandoned former medical facility. Her partner sets off the fire sprinklers as a distraction, and they all go off - But Olson explains that A) sprinklers don’t normally work like that, but B) these do because a deluge system was used because of the special needs of the facility. Deluge systems are a real thing.

(Solid, smart author, available on Kindle Unlimited :smiley: )


Reading Cryptonomicon for the third or fourth time right now. His explanations are really well crafted, like the part about Turing’s broken bicycle chain. After my wife had read the book she said she would have been far more interested in mathematics and such as a kid if someone had explained things to her in those ways.


Anyone read the orthogonal trilogy Egan builds a whole universes physics and biology from scratch and it drives the plot.

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