1. devildog_99
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    devildog_99 New Member

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    How to pad...without padding

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by devildog_99, Mar 31, 2010.

    Im working on my first piece and trying to turn it into a novel worth mentioning. It is non fiction based on first person POV and flashbacks.
    The problem that I am having is extending scenes when I need to without it being obvious Im just trying to fill pages.

    any suggestions is appreciated.
    thanks
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You need to add substance, not filler. Submissions editors are no more fooled by padding than your 8th grade English teacher was.

    Maybe you don't have a novel's worth of story there. You may need to add more storylines or subplots, perhaps additional complications.
     
  3. devildog_99
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    devildog_99 New Member

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    The story has substance. It probably needs more elaboration on the trials of the subject? It is based on emotion and lots of complications.

    The story is based on a US Marine canine handler (my nephew) who was killed in action while on patrol in Iraq. His canine partner survived the incident and the Marine's family was on a journey to adopt the dog.

    Thanks for the quick reply. I 'm guessing I probably need more creative writing for non-fiction" education ;-)

    Once I have a good manuscript drafted, I would love to post it and have it critiqued.

    thanks again
    Brian
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to have a few interesting, interweaving 'sub plots'. If you are doing non-fiction, it could become quite dry reading, just a recitation of events, and difficult to get to novel length--your outline comes across a bit like a Reader's Digest True Life Story. I'm reading Endurance at the moment, Alfred Lansing's account of Ernest Shackleton's voyage to the Antarctic in 1915-16. It's quite slow at times, but it works because of the length of time it covers, the characters involved, the historical detail, the incredible heroism, and the hardship the expedition faced. All these different factors, and the interaction between the characters is important to the account. Maybe you could try reading some true-life stories like this yourself?

    You outline the characters in your account as
    a US Marine canine handler (my nephew) who was killed in action
    His canine partner
    the Marine's family, on a journey to adopt the dog.

    But then you say you are using 1st person? How? Whose POV? If it's 1st person, how is the reader going to learn the feelings of the dead hero? (my deepest condolences, btw). You can't use his POV. I take it you aren't doing it from the POV of the dog (please, please, say you aren't...).

    So that leaves the family. Well, I'd say you have ample scope for relating conflict and subplots there, in light of the mission they are on, the loss they have suffered, and just the fact that they are a group of people who have known each other all their lives. But do you really want to expose your family like this?

    My advice would be to take a step back, and treat it as a fiction work.
    a) don't use 1st person POV (very claustrophobic and limiting with this scenario--e.g. is the POV character going to be present during every single row/conversation that takes place?)
    b) don't try and stick to the real story exclusively, adapt, e.g. James Ballard in Empire of the Sun substantially changed some details while at the same time keeping much of the autobiographical content.
    c) keep the flashbacks to a minimum or eliminate them entirely if you can.
     
  5. devildog_99
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    devildog_99 New Member

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    Thank you for the wonderful advice. The POV is from my point of view, from the time I get the call that he has been killed (sub plots are his missions told to be by fellow marines or officers) up until the present. There were many obstacles (these will be the subplots as well) that the family had to go through to be able to adopt his partner including a petition started by myself, the pentagon and lots of other red tape and typical government bureaucracy.
    Being part of the family, photographing and filming a lot of what happened, I had a front row seat as to what was going on, and access to the family that no one else had.

    The flashbacks are mine usually recalling my nephew's conversations or role just so that I can build character development- so they will be at a minimum.

    I want the reader to experience what I felt and saw, I want to put them in my shoes and be part of what was happening.

    to add: there will be scanned documentation-press releases and photos and letters included in the book as well

    love Empire of the Sun, btw!!
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow, that really looks interesting--best of luck with this!
     
  7. m5roberts
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    m5roberts Member

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    Reading suggestion

    If you haven't already, I suggest that you read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. It's an interesting collection of war stories that aren't just war stories which expertly maneuver between present day and past stories, changing points of view, etc. What I really liked about it though, is that he really plays with the idea of "emotional" truth vs. "factual" truth, meaning that he may change some details in order to help you feel as he did or as another character did, because he sees the feeling as equally or more important than what factually happened. Even if it's not what you intend to do, it's a great read, and might give you some ideas.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then it's not a 'novel'... what you have described is strictly non-fiction and novels are always fiction, even if 'based on' something that really happened... it would most likely be considered a 'memoir'...

    from dictionary.com:

    never post a complete work that you hope to get published... if it can be read for free, why would a publisher pay you for it?...

    plus, sites like this are not set up to handle entire books... post only a brief excerpt, if you want feedback on the writing quality, or help with something specific...

    this sounds like a very worthwhile project and if you need any help with it, i'd be glad to give you a hand...

    love and hugs, maia
     

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