Stop talking so much and speak

I've always rather liked this music video, but when I came across it again after several years, I realized it exemplified a problem that has been a struggle in my writing. Watch it and get back with me below. 

I never realized what bugged me about this until I viewed it with the benefit of more writing experience. The video doesn't trust the viewers to figure out the plot from the visuals, and inserts an annoying set of subtitles to make sure we get it. Everything that is displayed in the on-screen text is either 1) easily conveyed through visuals, or 2) not essential to the story. 

This is a really tough line to push in speculative fiction. When you spend time developing an exciting setting/world, you want the reader to have full access to all the cool stuff you've come up with. You want to not only show them the front of a character's house, but also let them go through the ornately-carved door, ascend the stairs, open a closet, push aside the clothes, thump on the back wall, open the secret compartment, and rifle through the collection of mummified insects hidden inside. But you can go too far.

When you explain everything, you kill the wonder of figuring it out, and the awe of knowing there's still more left to know.  

On the flip side, I have a tendency to leave so much mystery that some readers are left foundering. Trusting the reader doesn't mean teaching them to swim by booting them off the deep end of the pool and watching them make funny splashes.