Telepathy makes the author lazy.
No, let me clarify that. Having telepathic characters can give this author a shortcut that she comes to depend on. When the author decides to remove that shortcut, she gets a headache. Sort of the opposite of Rada Ni Drako’s problem.
When I started the short story that became the four and a third Colplat novels, I considered leaving in telepathy. Then I changed my mind. I didn’t want fantasy or sci-fi elements in the story. At that point, I’d also decided to leave out religion, and those of you who have read the first book know just how well that worked. But no telepathy, no magic, just humans in an early-modern setting with bits of “lost” technology appearing here and there.
As the story grew more detailed (and longer) I discovered just how dependent on telepathy I’d become. It’s very easy to give the reader information via two characters having a telepathic aside, or Rada (or Joschka or Rahoul P. Khan) listening in to someone’s surface thoughts. Elizabeth von Sarmas can’t do that. Which means the author has to find ways to slip in data without blatantly dumping data on the reader or character. OK, yes, there is one obvious data-dump in Elizabeth of Starland. It’s also necessary for both the character and the reader. That’s the only one, and I tried to use a light hand there. But Elizabeth and her associates have to learn a great deal on their own, and there are things they miss, or misunderstand.
It was a good challenge, and one that has reappeared with the fifth Colplat novel. Let’s just say that communications between Scheel, Morloke, and the Eastern Empire resemble a game of “telephone” at times, which helps the characters on occasion but more often muddies already murky waters. What would A know, and how? Can B get a message to A, and would he? (B is a stubborn get with his own agenda and does not always cooperate, even with the author.) Even when characters are talking face-to-face, clarity of communication can be a bit, dare I say, lacking. Is what B said to A what A thought B meant? Especially when A and B are trying to be a bit obscure so as not to feed rumors about A and D. Confused yet? Yeah, me too, and I’m supposed to know where all this is going. (Oh, I do. I’m just not sure yet precisely how I’m going to get there.) But I know no one will be reading my mind. 😉