1. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    Comfortable reading or what published authors can get away with

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Tim3232, Sep 16, 2015.

    I’ve selected a book to read based on the author having written some amusing/different crime books. There’s a death on Page 1. Pages 2 & 3 are about what I suspect are the author’s opinions on the composer, Stockhausen. It moves on a little and then on P12 I get a comparison on two poets. On p14 I get half page about the apple orchard that her mother can see from the window. And on it goes. Some of this, I can see, is building up characters. But for me a lot of it is filler. My eyes slide down the page, evaluate whether I need to concentrate or just pick up a few words and move on, or just ignore. I know some of it could be atmosphere – but what the protagonist’s mother thinks of the orchard just doesn’t interest me or add anything to the story.

    I’m sure as an unpublished writer I couldn’t get away with this. Or is that I’m just an impatient reader?

    I've only got to P25 and I'm posting this - so yeah, I'm an impatient reader.
     
  2. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Sounds like that book should've gone through more editing. I wouldn't have the protagonist muse about an orchard garden unless it were somehow important to character development or the plot.
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can understand impatience. If I find myself skimming, I often just stop reading because I'm not engaged by the author's style.

    However, no reader can't accurately judge what is filler and what isn't until they get to the end. Details may be there to develop character. That's what 'showing' versus telling is all about. And also be aware that a major plot twist may result from what the protagonist's mother thinks of the orchard.

    One of my mottos is: Trust the Author. If the author put it there, the author probably has a reason for doing so.

    If you get to the end, and realise lots of what you read was indeed meaningless, it's fine to say the author just padded the work with filler. But you can't really make that call while you're still in the process of reading. Give the author a chance to pull it all together. It's supposed to be a journey, isn't it? Not a race.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, but that's the thing, It may well be important to character development or plot. You won't know unless you keep reading.
     
  5. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    I will read on but I have been known to give up on books quickly if they meander too much.
     
  6. ClassyCanuck
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    ClassyCanuck Member

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    There is developing character and atmosphere... and then there is overkill. I can see why the author may have wanted to do that, but the best way to build a character is to put them in situations that will capture the reader. Dialogue is another good way to show off character's personalities, while making the event move quicker. Dialogue also helps with atmosphere...

    The way this author approached this shows that maybe the book needed to go through more editing as Link the Writer posted above. From what I gathered from what you wrote, the author has a lot of unneeded information that sadly they didn't flush out and therefore made it a boring read.

    On another note, you stuck with that book longer than I would have. Page 25 makes you a champion in my books. :p
     
  7. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    I had 3 books by the same author. I gave in on the book I mentioned here after 30 pages, gave his second book 10 and didn't bother opening his third. Clearly, I chose the wrong author for me.

    But, had I submitted a synopsis and the first 3 chapters to an agent for any of those, what would have been my chances?
     
  8. ClassyCanuck
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    ClassyCanuck Member

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    Depends on who you are submitting them to.
    Most would likely write back and say it needs more editing. Other's would give you a chance but would suggest one more look through before it goes to print.
    As a new author it would be harder, since you need to make a good first impression if you want publishers to keep you.
    From what you've told me, it is obvious that this person might have an audience for their kind of writing style, which allows for him to write like that.
    Still, I can't say for sure what your chances would actually be...
     
  9. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    There is excessive background information, and then there is filler. I skimmed giant sections of Les Mis where the story stalls and Victor Hugo just talks about the politics of the time, or the (very) long history of the order of the nuns who shelters Valjean and Cosette. They were not strictly necessary to the story. Abridged versions have cut them out. The detailed political histories were especially dry and difficult to get through. Nevertheless, understanding them gives understanding to the author and the purpose of writing, and in the case of Les Mis, enrich the backdrop against which the characters play. In that case, it feels like filler, but it's just excessive information.

    What you described kind of feels like random fluffy filler, the author's own musings leaking into the pauses of his story. If he had posted it on here for critique, I'm sure we all would have said to cut it out. And unless, like Jannert says, it ties in at the end somehow, I would think it would be a big mark against you when it comes to publishers. Then again, he was published somehow so apparently there are publishers for everyone.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2015
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This probably doesn't address the specific books that the OP is referring to, but I think that with older books, it may be necessary to realize that what feels like boring fluff to us now may have been shocking social commentary then. Where a reader seventy years ago may have said, "Oh, my GOD! Did he really say that?!", we might say, "...and? When is the story going to start?"
     
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