In the very first iteration of my story I had about two pages dedicated to giving a brief history on the world. After reading Game of Thrones and fighting through the story to explore the world, I felt that was fun. I enjoyed having to puzzle out the religion all on my own. You saw hints from time to time, but little beyond that. After some time you just knew the religion because of how everyone interacted with it.
I fell in love with this concept. I deleted the beginning narrative. I enriched my hints. I had confused readers. The hints weren’t enough. The people demanded more. I was at a loss as to what I should do. On one hand everyone does that beginning blip on their world, a history lesson putting people to sleep. It gives little voice. The main characters would never suffer such a moment. So what am I, and other fantasy writers, to do?
I’ve read two fascinating ideas. The Foundation Trilogy has little encyclopedia entries at the beginning of chapters to show about the world. Do I want these? Before each chapter do I want a short blip of information which will help give an understanding of the chapter? On the other hand I found it really difficult to wrap my head around what was being said. Perhaps I could make the historical excerpts more comprehendable, or perhaps I’m just slow on the uptake.
My other option is a prologue. Lord of the Rings uses the prologue to talk about Hobbits and some of their culture. Do I want to include some straight out text book information to show the world? Or is this too blatant? Are most people like me and the prologue, introduction, and forward are all skipped? I find it could be useful to let people check back if a curiosity is struck, maybe even leaving references throughout the book going back to certain parts of the prologue. I feel this might be the solution I go with. This way there is a history part of the book which may be skipped if desired.
What have others done in the realm of fantasy? What would people suggest?