1. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Keeping it real, keeping it interesting.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MustWrite, May 16, 2014.

    When writing a fantasy, though as realistic a fantasy as I can, I get really involved in developing different aspects that I have created, imagining so many details that I wonder how much is too much? how do I know when my fascination with certain details are distracting the reader or even boring them? For instance my in-depth knowledge of horses, their training and behavior, means I can make my book really believable, but would it also bore the crap out of a non-horsey person..?
    I want it to be interesting to the average reader, and in my own reading experience I find the details of new worlds fascinating, but I don't want to indulge in a variety of tangents just because it's fun to write..
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    That's a fine line to walk. I don't know anything about horses and am not really interested in learning about them, but if read your book, and you've done a good job integrating the horse stuff, I'll learn a little about them in spite of myself. I guess the question you might want to ask yourself is, "Would this be a good story if I removed the horse content ?".
     
  3. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    So long as it's relevant to the what's going on, for example (I don't know anything about horses) explaining the properties and advantages of different saddle materials might bore the reader, but if your character has got a sore ass then you could slip in a line like a horsey information ninja: "The hard leather saddle was a pain in the ass." couple the horse information up with information regarding the character and story.
     
  4. desert rat
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    desert rat Member

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    The general rule that I like (and strive to maintain though can also be sidetracked by my own interests) is "does the information move the story forward?" So, are the details you are struggling with significant in the story? do they play a part in the plot or action? If not, leave them out. As an aside, I think this is why I don't particularly like Dickens (though realize he is a master)... his level of detail bores me. But clearly, a very large segment of the world likes his writing so there is also a personal preference to consider.
     
  5. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Moby Dick is a great example of too much information. Anybody who reads it should be considered an expert on whaling. I hate to say it here, but I preferred the Cliff's Notes.
     
  6. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I love learning stuff from fictional works as long as the information is correct. However, as you've guessed, there's a way do it badly and a way to do it well.

    One thing I try to do to keep from turning the story into a how-to manual is to make whatever details I present as interesting as possible. For instance, I wasn't a horse person before I met my wife, but I still would've been interested in seeing (in a conscise way) how a knight in full mail mounts a horse or how a trained/untrained (for combat/war use) horse behaves when the rider gets into a fight etc. etc.

    Another way to keep the reader's interest is tying the details into action. There's some gun jargon in my (and @KaTrian's) WIP, but we usually mix it up with the action. For instance, I might write something like this (just a quickly scribbled example):

    Her pistol jammed, a shell casing stuck in the ejection port. To clear the stovepipe, she slammed her palm on the magazine's base plate, racked the slide, sending the piece of brass through the air, and the gun was back in action.

    I counted 8 instances of gun jargon in those two sentences alone. That's a bit rich, I admit, and I don't usually stuff quite that much into such a small space, but you get the idea: I don't list details e.g. while she's doing nothing, but embed the stuff into the action for the purpose of making it more realistic as well as to portray an image of a competent character. Nothing spells "dilettante" quite as clearly as an author who writes a supposed "expert" in thing X do thing X in a way that no real professional ever would.

    For example, if I'd written the character to clear the malfunction ("stovepipe" aka failure to eject the empty cartridge) simply by pulling out the stuck casing, it would've shown the character, supposedly a trained soldier, has little to no experience with firearms, which is, of course, unrealistic: most people who deal with firearms have experienced a stovepipe and they know that the recoil spring & slide hold the casing so tightly that you can't just pry it out, or at the very least it's a very ineffective, cumbersome, and, most of all, slow way to clear the FTE (and you do not want to be slow in a gun fight). Furthermore, pretty much all modern soldiers know the basic procedure for clearing that common malfunction: tap (smack the base of the magazine with your palm), rack (pull back the slide and release it in a slingshot motion), bang (fire the weapon at the threat).

    Whenever Kat and I are writing medieval fantasy (also going for realism, just like you), we always try to incorporate the fighting and horse-y details into the action; she's really into horses, so naturally our equestrian details are as abundant as any related to fighting.

    Anyway, this is not the way, just a way to go about it.
     
  7. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Great! Thanks for the feedback. I found it especially interesting in the details that T.Trian would have found interesting- it gives me a clearer idea.
     

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