For those of you who don’t know, “As You Know, Bob” is a literary… device where a character blurts out a bunch of information in dialogue to another character that should or does already know the information, and the only purpose for the dialogue is to inform the reader. It usually pulls the reader out of the story because it seems out of place or possibly even ludicrous. One of my favourite examples was in an episode of Numbers (sometimes it’s harder to avoid AYKB in movies & TV) where the math professor explains to the FBI agents how terrorist cells work. Um, yeah, they probably already knew all that.
Anyway, I recently came across a previously unknown (to me) variation on the As You Know, Bob phenomenon.
“As you know,” the dialogue began. The funny thing is, that most AYKB dialogue doesn’t actually start with “as you know” so when I saw it, I was prepared for a very clunky info dump in the following dialogue.
But then, the character imparted a fact that I’m guessing 80% of the population would have NO idea about, AND there’s no reason on Earth why the character being spoken to would be aware of this fact. I was left wondering why one would even include the “As you know” phrase. Unless, it was an unwitting AYKB. ACK. Brain hurts from thinking about it!
I think maybe I’ll call this the “As You Don’t Know, Bob” or maybe “Bob, you dumbass, why don’t you know this?”
And the moral is… if you are tempted to actually put “as you know” into dialogue, just reflect for a few moments. Is it truly the best way to disseminate the information?