You may be asking yourself, what is a ninja author? Is it someone who sneaks up to your notebook and scribbles a novel in a span of a second? Is it a poet that steps up beside you on the corner and romances you with an ode to your umbrella? Or is it an author dressed all in black and uses ninja rolls as their major form of transportation?
I suppose these all work as a definition, but not the one I’m intending. Although, I admit, I’d totally be up for being the last one.
In my theory, a ninja author is one that lets things sneak up on you.
Allow me to use a few examples to explain. AHEM.
The Forever War
It’s a book I just read that is AWESOME and sci-fi. It’s not terribly technological, which made me happy. It is a summer read, after all, so I wasn’t looking to exercise my brain. However, after looking more closely, I realized it was kind of tech heavy, but that wasn’t the focus. The author just had these things evolve in the background, making a fuller, brighter picture without me knowing.
Allow me to explain…
So this book is about space travel. They go through worm holes, which cause a lot of pressure, and over the span of the book they get better and better at surviving these voyages. Of course, the narrator doesn’t blatantly go “now as I go through this wormhole, the technology has thankfully advanced so that…”
No, the author just kind of lets things happen matter of factedly. The first wormhole jump, there is little tech to help, so there is a lot of injury to the crew. The second we see, they enter these pods to help, but it’s still primitive–sensitive to buckling or slight movement of the inhabitant. Then it evolves to tanks, which are much better.
But the author never blatantly explains these devices. Through use by the narrator they’re explained, but never outright. So really, the author just kind of ninjas these awesome ideas–super complex tech things–and you’re picking them up without realizing it. Pretty sweet.
And the other kind of ninja author is the one that plants little things that mean a lot 100 pages later. These authors I want to ask them their secrets because, for me, I can hardly remember what I wrote five pages ago, let alone one hundred.
The only example of this sort of ninja’ing I can cite is Homestuck, which is not a book, so I will not cite it.
(I also am not too proud I read it, but it’s addicting. shh.)
So Ninja Authors are awesome and we can all do well to learn from their wisdom. Ninja some awesome things into your works–be subtle, my young grasshopper.