See what I did there again? Yeah, you saw it. So clever.
Let’s get into context clues buried within technobabble so we can talk future stuff and not lose our audience. First, let’s take this snippet of dialogue from Star Trek, they love this stuff. Let’s see how they did it:
DATA: “It appears to be a highly focused aperture in the space-time continuum. Its energy signature matches that of the temporal fragments we observed earlier. However, it is approximately one point two million times as intense. I believe this may be the origin of the temporal fragmentation.”
So, big hole in space-time, got that. It’s the same hole we already saw, but it’s a million times stronger. It’s not that complicated at all, doesn’t impede our understanding, and still sounds like it takes several degrees to understand the science behind it.
Like I said in the video as it pertained to ancient speech, I suggest arriving at the feeling first and the words, in plain English. Then, alter the dialogue to match how it needs to sound, sprinkle in keywords surrounded by context clues, and you’ve got it. Easy, peasy, cadmium-hued citrus product squeezie.
The biggest DON’T with technobabble is to try and make you, the author, sound clever. We get it, you did your research. Hell, you got your 12 degrees to actually explain to me what Data was talking about up there. If it doesn’t serve the story, if it doesn’t sound natural, or if it’s a wall of text, it goes. Worse yet, if it’s in your dialogue and directed at a character that can’t understand it, cut it. Even worse still, if you have to explain it again three sentences later, you’re giving me a ‘In English, Doc!’, and we can’t have that.
Science doesn’t even have to be real to sound real. That’s right, your science doesn’t have to be science at all. Give me a technological explanation for magic in your world. Make vampirism a virus. As long as the explanation sounds good, and you can walk me through it like a layman, that works. Just…please don’t give me midichlorians. That is all I ask.
Now you know when to keep and when to cut. Now have fun, and get crafting.