One of the hardest parts in writing Sci-fi/ fantasy, for me anyway, was knowing where to draw the line between providing enough information about your version of the world for readers that they understand and yet not flood them with irrelevant and boring data.
You can work out the full political system, but do they need to know that the Council only rules in the King’s stead while he is mad? Maybe. Do they need to know that it is the Council that determines whether or not the King is mad? Eventually, especially if the plot involves him trying to reclaim his throne. But when, where and how? These are questions you always need to ask.
So what are the alternatives? Here are few examples of how.
- Third person observation – his reading of the fading calligraphy gave him but one answer, it was the Council that decided the King’s ability to rule.
- Third person conversation – upon reading of the crumbling scrolls, the ambassador looked across and his friend, “It looks like it is the Council that decides.”
- First person thoughts – “So how would he prove himself sane to those that stood to lose the most by it?”
Sometimes the where takes care of itself. If the opening scene is the King’s determination to return to his rightful place as ruler, then start telling them right away. If you mean it to be the final plot twist, then near the end makes sense. But you can foreshadow – i.e. give hints.
Foreshadowing can be difficult. It often makes sense to you, but for those that haven’t spent ages immersing themselves in your world, it can be a confusing irrelevance that stops them reading long before the actual moment is in play.
The best advice I was ever given by my editors was to give it to a friend to read. Someone that will be ruthlessly honest and hasn’t ever heard you ramble on about the world before. They can be hard to find, but well worth it. If your book is suitable, I find a twelve year old is a perfect blend of ruthless and is unlikely to have been listening to you even if you did talk about it. Maybe mine will still be that way when she is old enough to read my books. Sigh.