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Author Topic: Anyone? Ever?
Doctor
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Has anyone (here) ever been reading through a fast paced novel, and enjoying it, and thought to themselves this feels slightly rushed, I'd sure like some more details about the journey, or about the day in between when seemingly no action took place, etc? Or are you more often bored by lengthy scenes of travel or heavy scenes of characters planning and arguing and you wish the narrator would just skip ahead to the good stuff?
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Bent Tree
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Any well-read person has. It is inevitable.

Variatable intersts of readers makes it all the more important to make the story stand out. It will overcome the skimmed chapters. It will also make selling sequels possible, if the author can capitalize on those perked interests. Look at the Bean stories in the Ender series.


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Doctor
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I may be an odd duck here, but I never thought the Bean stories were all their great or interesting.
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JeanneT
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You're not alone. Guess it's all a matter of opinion.

But on the orignal subject, I find it hard to believe that anyone didn't occasionally feel like suggesting to Tolkien that he could leave off a verse or two of that interminable poetry.


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annepin
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I admit to having skipped through sections of Tolkien, at least on my first way through (that chapter on Tom Bombadil, for instance). I felt this way with the HP series too-she could have cut several hundred words and not lost much.

I don't remember feeling the opposite way about any book, though, that is, wanting more where the author has skipped over. I mean, i haven't wanted books to end, but that's a different issue.


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JeanneT
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I have also thought on occasion that Terry Goodkind never found a blade of grass he didn't find it necessary to describe. But more description? Well, yes I've known writers who didn't put in enough but not of a boring day of travel.
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rickfisher
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One thing to remember is that, when a story is rushed, it often feels more boring. What gets left out in a rushed story is not, however, scenic descriptions, but character depth. So if you're reading a boring book which ought to be more interesting--because the events are moving along at a good clip--the problem is that it's too short. But it doesn't feel too short, it feels too long, because it's boring, and it's boring because you just don't care--you've got nothing invested in the characters.

Of course, there are the books that really are too long. It can be a difficult question when someone tells you your story is slow and you should cut it--is that because you really need to cut it, or because you really need to make it longer?


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Jeff M
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I rarely get the feeling something is too rushed, but I often encounter the opposite -- the multi-volume fantasy epics where the excessive scene-setting makes it feel like the author is getting paid by the word (yes, I'm lookin' at YOU, Robert Jordan).

As long as there is a strong sense of place and character established, you don't need a lot of detail. I'd rather read a story that keeps moving forward. Anything that doesn't contribute to that forward momentum can occur "off screen", with maybe a line or two summarizing the outcome.


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Robert Nowall
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Well, I'd'a advised Tolkien to cut Tom Bombadil out of the final draft...then again, in commercial fiction, the multi-volume things tend to be padded out something fierce...

I usually like odd details here and there, though there are lots of times just one will jar me out of my reading mood.

When I'm writing, though, usually I feel I should have had more detail in the story, rather than less...


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Robert Nowall
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Should'a also mentioned, as I think I have in a couple of threads around here, that when I read a book and spot some detail I know to be outright wrong, that stops my reading mood cold...not quite the same thing, but similar...
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skadder
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I was much more forgiving of writers when I was just a reader. When I started writing I started noticing the structure, foreshadowing etc.and all the other giveaways that allow you to predict how the story is going to unfold.
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Cheyne
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I tend to be very minimal in the case of description. I find that it is better to allow the reader to picture what they want about my characters and settings.It might just be personal taste though. Some have complained that they want more from me in that department.

Nothing pushes me out of a story faster than a lot of brand names and descriptive details.
Nothing except bad writing.
I recently listened to an audio version of The DaVinci Code and had to keep going back to relisten to some segments because I couldn't remember to listen full time. I kept being pushed out of the story by bad turns of phrase or over the top description. So even a best seller with an interesting premise can be poorly written.


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Doctor
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Thanks everyone for the meaningful and very helpful responses. The reason I asked the question is because I, like others of you, believe that wherever possible I should leave the exact details to the imagination of the reader, let them have some control over the story, make it how they want to. And in return I can accelerate pace.

I found rickfisher's comment especially useful, because sometimes I have encountered that exact problem, where the pace is fast but dull because it feels flat and meaningless. I'd never really thought about it before, but thanks rick, you succinctly described something I've been vaguely aware of, hovering in the abstract until now.

I like to skip over journeys or exact descriptions of buildings, sometimes I use chapter jumps to skip over all "the in betweens," which sometimes includes the part where the team plans how they will do the impossible. It's assumed they made a plan, and the plan is demonstrated when it is put into play, but I tend to skip the actual planning part. Would anyone here have a problem with that?


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JeanneT
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Well, I can't say that I agree with leaving out all the details. I tend to assume that it's my job as the author to put in the ones that will help picture it and leave out the ones that will bore. It's a fine line sometimes. As for planning, In that situation I generally put in enough to show that they did plan, but then let the results of the planning play themselves out.
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akeenedesign
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I often find myself skipping through non-dialogue scenes without realizing it. I usually don't know that I've done it until I re-read the book and start seeing information that I missed the first time.

Dialogue is simpler to read without skipping, since I'm usually 'saying' it in my head with that character's imagined voice, unlike the descriptive text.

I definitely agree with you, Doctor, when it comes to leaving exact details out. I was reading a book recently that had every eye roll and shrug inserted into the dialogue scenes, and it bothered me because it slowed the pace unnecessarily.

But I don't skip sections, intentionally. Even if it's a boring section, I'll try to get through it. I don't know why, exactly, when nothing really stops me from just skipping ahead - It might be because I put the fault on myself for not caring what a place looks like, instead of putting the fault on the author for not making it interesting enough, if that makes any sense.


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TheOnceandFutureMe
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I find I'm definitely a minimalist. I'd rather leave things to the readers imagination. That way, if I insert a detail, not only does it stand out more, but I also know darn well that I want that detail there.

I run into problems with that when I write fantasy - ask anybody who just critted "Wings" for me. I first took that story into a workshop at school, and only one of my 17 peers pictured my characters even remotely similar to what I intended. The Prof, Tom De Haven (It's Superman!-awesome book, check it out), told me that I needed to be sure to describe things that will be foreign to the reader - not excessively of course, but enough that the reader can picture it.

So yeah. I'm a minimalist to a fault.


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shimiqua
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--the multi-volume fantasy epics where the excessive scene-setting makes it feel like the author is getting paid by the word (yes, I'm lookin' at YOU, Robert Jordan).--

So funny! I also prefer more minimal, but beware the white room!
~Sheena


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