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  1. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    Style How to break narrative gracefully

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by giant-insect, Jul 6, 2016.

    Hello,
    I want to break my narrative to include details not easily able to be found by other means. I can't make up my mind as to start a new paragraph and page, and stars or double daggers and a new paragraph, or just the new paragraph.

    Thanks
     
  2. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    What kind of details?
     
  3. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    Details on space travel of the time.
    I'd post an 3 paragraph except but I'm not yet allowed to as a new comer.
    Here's the idea.
    So-and-so went to the space ship.
    BREAK (mention why so-and-so is not required to be a qualified astronaut).
    So-and-so got into the space ship.
     
  4. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    I'd honestly just weave it into the same paragraph, or just omit that idea altogether and weave it into dialogue later from another character about them not being a qualified astronaut.
     
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  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is called an info dump and it's very difficult to do it gracefully. As a result most authors will take @Vagrant Tale's approach and weave it into the narrative/dialogue. Just don't get yourself into an, "As you know, Bob..." situation where characters are explaining things to each other for no purpose except to enlighten the reader.

    It's a tricky balance. For me, the aim is always to disappear as an author and never remind the reader that they're reading fiction. That means not jerking them out of the narrative to explain something.
     
  6. mashers

    mashers Senior Member

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    If your character knows this information, you could use his inner monologue combined with a flashback to communicate this to the reader. Something like:

     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, this.

    As long as you filter details through your character's perspective—without doing what @Tenderiser warned against and using dialogue or reader thoughts as an info-dump—you should be fine. Don't tell the reader what the character is doing. Tell us what he THINKS of what he's doing. That nearly always works.

    In the above example, the character is feeling grateful that he's got a chance at piloting, even though he's flunked the Academy. That tells us everything we need to know.
     
  8. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    I think you're correct. But the story is supposed (I should have mentioned this sooner), to be written by a person in the plot, so I think it's ok to bring their knowledge into the work.
    Now, you might be the future reader, so, does my choice make sense with this new information?
     
  9. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    What choice? Doing it as @jannert suggested would be fine for me as a reader. The way you suggested in your OP wouldn't.
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Vagrant Tale and @mashers both have good approaches, which represent how this is usually approached. It doesn't have to break the narrative. In fact, it shouldn't break the narrative.
     
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  11. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    I figured out a way to do it!
    At first I though it would be too difficult, but it will work.
    Thanks
     
  12. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Then I'll just add this: is the information you are looking to provide really needed by the reader to understand your story? Because that should be what drives the "in or out" decision.
     
  13. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    Well, if you were reading a book about space adventures and found that some of the people just after the space shuttle did not have training as astronauts wouldn't you be a bit curious?
     
  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reader curiosity is a good thing. Satisfying that curiosity too promptly is often a bad thing. If you're never allowed to get hungry, how can you enjoy the meal?
     
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  15. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I would expand this to "tension is a good thing." And I know easing tension too soon was a big problem in my early attempts.

    A few months back, I read an article online (sorry, don't remember the source. I think it was shared on FB by a writer friend) by an agent talking about this very issue. As an example, she mentioned a story that had been submitted to her. It was all about a wedding, and the night before the bridesmaids go out and get rip-roaring drunk, leaving them horribly hung over the next day. But the story skips past the hangovers and quickly resolves the problems they posed for the married couple. "No, no, no, no!" the agent wrote. "I want to see all the horrors! I want bridesmaids barfing into the potted palms!!" In other words, put the issue in doubt and leave it in doubt for a while.
     
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  16. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    You don't know how I write :) . I started the story in two chapters with two different plots (which will connect in a common destiny latter), which were both fast paced and about two pages long each. Now I get into the more meaty part and I think that some details would be appreciated by the reader.
    I'm feeding them small pieces at a time so that they don't wind up :dead: because there is a lot to cover if you're trying to bring 12+ people into the plots.
    I can hardly wait till I can post my 2000 words worth of a book!
     
  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that it's extremely likely that if I read the work, I would disagree. But I can't be positive until I do.

    Also, a paragraph is a lot of explanation. The fact that someone on a spacecraft doesn't have astronaut training could theoretically be communicated much more briefly:

    Joe gratefully unbuckled his spacesuit. Thank God that as the ship's cook, he didn't have to wear the things as often as the astronauts.

    or

    Dr. James yanked at the buckles. "How often do you wear this thing? How do you stand it?"

    Lieutenant Smith shrugged. "Two hours a day. You could do your lab work just as well in your underwear; we're going to have to be able to practically crochet an afghan in these gloves by the time we get out there and start the spacewalks."

    James put his helmet on the shelf. "I knew there was a good reason for that third PhD."


    The second one has a vibe of spoonfeeding the reader; hopefully in context I could reduce that.
     
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  18. giant-insect

    giant-insect Member

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    Yes, it could be shorter.
    BTW: I've made three reviews and I don't know how many posts, how do I tell when I can submit my work for constructive criticizem?
     

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