Mixing it up.
I figure its about time to put my heart on my sleeve and let everyone in on a little secret of mine: I love long stories. I really do! I like watching characters run through their adventures over the course of months and years, through different arcs and different seasons. Given enough time we begin to expect certain things, know all the references and why a character might act a certain way. That sort of knowledge base has to built over time, there's no other way to do it. It's a natural progression of plot and history that's much like life expierence.
Now, and this is the beautiful thing, a story can hit a spot where there is enough accumulated reader expierence with the story that the reader takes certain things for granted. The writer, if they are attuned to this, can go two ways with this certain 'reader state':
1) A writer can streamline their writing. As long as the reader is current on all the story content up to a certain point, a writer can take liberties and move on to new things, building on the old.
2) A writer can completely change the direction of the story. This is actually nessesary at a certain point in the story to breath new life into it. The same pony doing the same tricks can at times become boring if not handled correctly.
I was thinking a bit about this today and it really just bioled down to that. Any writer trying to build an epic world and story has to do so slowly, building on each subsequent piece of information. Tolkien and Jordan used a classic method I like to call 'the student character' that the writer can teach with a teacher character. In this way the reader learns naturally along with the naive character about how the world works outside of the student character's isolate existance.
I think more than anything I'm tired and wanted to write a little something. This whole thing was inspired by Scott Kurtz's www.pvp-online.com recent events. He really shook up a world that had been since set in stone of some sort. Two characters marrying, effectively removing a character and updating the art for two others through scandaleous means. It's a bold move that may frighten some readers, anger others and invigorate the rest and I say hats off to you Scott, hats off to you.