1. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Intriguing or annoying?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jonp, Apr 30, 2011.

    As some of you may know, I'm currently writing a fantasy novel. I recently wrote a scene in which one of the main characters is made to compete in a game of chance in order to win an amulet for a mysterious man who promises to give vital information in return.

    I planned to follow up the amulet story later at some point, I'm not yet sure how, but then I started thinking- this is a fantasy world. There are lots of people going off and having adventures, not just the main characters, so what if, instead of following the mysterious man's amulet storyline I just leave it. I was thinking that I could add more things like that, characters that they interact with who are off on their own adventures/quests/whatever, where we only gain a slight insight into their lives before they head off on their way, possibly never to be seen again.

    I reckon this would be a good way to make the world seem more alive, populated by other people just like the MC's, off on their own adventures, but on the other hand I can imagine it would frustrate people who are intrigued by a character and their quest only for them to never be brought up again.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't do that too many times... if you plant too many seeds that never grow into anything, I think that might annoy a reader.

    In your example, does the man give the vital information? Or does he do a runner? The latter could be interesting.

    If he does give the information and go off with the amulet, I also don't see a problem. He was just a minor character and played his part.

    What I wouldn't do is 'promise' something intriguing will happen later, and then not deliver.
     
  3. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    He does give them the information. I was thinking of hinting that there's something special about the amulet, but not going into too much detail.
     
  4. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Not NEVER brought up again, I tend to like a resolution, and not too many random subplots. However, I do really enjoy a novel that engages me right into the thick of one character's quest, only to leave me with a cliffhanger while the author delves into someone else's journey. I keep reading, because I want to know what happened to a prior character, I get absorbed into this new quest. Then, BAM! I'm back with the first storyline again. A lot of fantasy books do this, and I love it. Nothing like being hooked by a good read.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whether it is intriguiing or annoying will primarily depending on how well you write it.

    Whatever you do, don't lose focus on the main story.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honest answer? It would tick me off and I wouldn't think very highly of you as a writer because you left parts of the story incomplete. I wouldn't think you had deliberately left it out - I'd assume you'd forgotten.
     
  7. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    Just from some personal experience about subplots.

    I had a lot of subplots in my book leading to nowhere.

    The ones I tried coming back to made me have to work the main story around the subplots instead of the other way around.

    It was better just to remove them if they eventually don't lead to the main plot or has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot.

    I still have subplots in my story -- just not as much as before. The ones I have now are relevant to the the story, the main plot, and are resolved (After a year of editing, I learned that my fault of using subplots came from trying to write for a series instead of a stand alone book).

    I agree with what Cogito said. Whatever you do, just don't lose focus on the main story.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would annoy me. If the man needed something that was its own conclusion - for example, if he were trying to get a much-loved family heirloom back, or buy back his son's indentured servitude, or something, then you don't need to return to it, and you can have your lively world without taking on a huge load of "resolution debt". (Though even if you don't need to return to it, you may still need to be careful that your reader doesn't say, "Uhhhh...what was that for?") But something as exotic and unexplained as that amulet needs, IMO, to be explained or resolved eventually.

    The quote, "I looked at the trap, Ray." comes to mind. In Ghostbusters, Ray warns everyone not to look in the ghost-catching trap. Egon looks. And nothing ever comes of that. I've always assumed that some resolution to that was cut out of the movie, and that always annoyed me a bit.

    Also, isn't there some quote along the lines of, "If there's a gun on the wall in Act One, somebody better get shot by the end of Act Two"? Yes! Chekov's Gun! That might be a phrase worth Googling on. (Hey, can I try to popularize the phrase "Ray's trap" as a substitute? OK, probably not.)

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    It would be intriguing up to a certain point. Don't divulge too much about the passersby or leave them open to be followed later on. If you find that you really like the intersecting story, perhaps you could write their story with the scene where the two stories intersect from the passersby POV. That would be interesting.
     
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  10. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Ever seen the story Valentines Day? It's a rom-com which follows a bunch of different couples, whose lives tie together in quite simple ways (two people sitting on an airplane together, a teen babysitting the grandchild, etc.), and somehow they all come together in a rather satisfying and clever resolution. I think if you did something similar (relate all of the stories and bring them together in the end) it might be easier for you to resolve each and every one of them. Just don't spawn too many stories, or else you'll be overwhelmed, as will your readers.
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was literally going to say this, word for word. Plus or minus some self-indulgent rambling. :p

    I like the way this guy thinks. ;)
     
  12. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    :D Thanks!

    I was actually thinking of doing something similar to what I proposed, but that'd be a series and I'm not yet published. I've heard many a writer/editor/publisher/agent say that series should be avoided by the unpublished writer unless they do it extremely well. Editors just don't like the risk of an untried author proposing a series to them.
     
  13. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Hmm... thanks for the input, guys.

    I wasn't thinking of subplots regarding these characters, but more like situations the main characters find these people in where their adventures cross over in some tiny way. I wouldn't necessarily give a lot of information on their quest, just that they're off doing their own thing. I wouldn't do it too many times either. If I felt so inclined and if my book ended up popular enough, I could even write a series of short stories focused on the intersecting characters. Clearly not a popular idea, though.
     

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