1. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    Large detail vs. straight to the point

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ommonite, Oct 7, 2008.

    I started writing a fantasy novel with the intent of removing it from the cliches and typical hero's Journey and such. anyone who has read my other threads can tell i'm trying REALLY hard.

    Is it better to, in the genre, detail certain things to a great extent, or leave most of it up in the air.

    For example, my main character is a sorcerer, and has thus mixed normal fencing with the mysterious sword fighting of a sorcerer into his own fighting style. Should I give distinct names to every fighting style?

    Also, in one chapter and than another, a certain group of characters appear, led by a specifically described character. should he be named, if only appearing in those chapters, and no one says his name?

    Should characters from foreign lands dump info about their countries, such as in the Council of Elrond?

    Anyone should be able to tell what i am asking, and give a simple yes or no with some explanations, disregarding the above as simple examples, though insight on those would be appreciated
     
  2. Rebrella
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    Rebrella New Member

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    I say only include in the information that is relevant to the overall plot.

    Are the names of the fighting styles important later? And if you're going to have other characters talk about their countries, how about they only talk about the things that are relevant later, but chopped up with bits of action. Like, "Back home, we never...". If there is some herb from a foreign land that becomes important to the plot, have the characters talk about that, but stay away from the dining habits of the wealthy if this isn't important.
     
  3. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    It was hard for me to give a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer, but I tried my best. I hope this helps:

    Is it necessary for the reader to know the distinct names? Usually, no.

    Personally, I like to know the name. But remember, not letting the reader know the character's name also has its advantages (such as - mysterious).

    Is it necessary to the story? I think some info is fine unless the info given is useless to the reader.
     
  4. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Essentially, relevance and importance are the way to go. I'm still trying to manage that (despite being horrible at description, and hardly attempting it if I can help it - ahaha).
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Always get straight to the point. If description is in the way of that, chuck it.

    Good description doesn't interrupt the pace.

    Sprinkle details throughout the text, if they are essential to the story or bring the reader closer to the scene or characters. Don't dump tons of detail, unless it really fits in best that way. If you must, then you will have a challenge in doing it without overwhelming the reader. In your Council of Elrond example, it works largely because the constant interruptions break up the blocks of narrative. Also, there are answers in those narratives to questions that have built up in the preceding chapters, but at the same time, new questions are raised (What happened to Balin? Is Rohan turned to Sauron? What are the portents in Boromir's dream? Are the Nine sufficiently scattered? - to name a few)

    As for naming fighting styles, it would probably bore me, personally, to tears unless it were very subtly done, and only once or twice.
     
  6. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I guess my suggestion would be, from a readers perspective, whenever I am reading there is always a little voice in my head asking "Why is the author telling me this?" or "Why should I care?".

    So if your going to go into detail about a character's home city I would suggest that the city has some impact on the development of the character. For example the description of a port city and the character being a pirate. If that makes any sense.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I do think that can be carried too far. There is some value in simply giving the reader the "feel" of the setting or the character by means of description, to provide the reader with more of a connection to the story.

    But use it judiciously. Don't just add description to fill up space, and don't yield to the temptation to show everything about your beautiful exciting world.

    Anyone who has seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture should know what I mean - long, lingering beauty shots of the refitted enterprise and other snazzy but drawn out visuals slowed the pace to an agonizing crawl.

    By all means, draw the reader into your story, but don't mire him or her waste deep in it!
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I do think that can be carried too far. There is some value in simply giving the reader the "feel" of the setting or the character by means of description, to provide the reader with more of a connection to the story.

    But use it judiciously. Don't just add description to fill up space, and don't yield to the temptation to show everything about your beautiful exciting world.

    Anyone who has seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture should know what I mean - long, lingering beauty shots of the refitted Enterprise and other snazzy but drawn out visuals slowed the pace to an agonizing crawl.

    By all means, draw the reader into your story, but don't mire him or her waist deep in it!
     
  9. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    The only reason i though about naming the fighting style is cus there are names for like 33 different light saber techniques, though I question where the names came from, however I've never heard anything with some hardcore light saber fights.
     
  10. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    The trouble is, Ommonite, you need to make sure the reader knows enough about this magic and stuff so that they understand its limitations and aides, yet you do not want to get bogged down with too much technical things.

    Also, as far as not using too much information goes, I am personally a fan of information. I like to know irrelevant things that add charector to your story and make it seem more real. Okay, do not overload with things like the population of Slovakia is ____million etc. But I like detail and little peices of additional information which turns a story, into something which could be real.
     
  11. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    Thanks to everyone and all of your advice. I've received mostly negative replies when it comes to adding in such detail. The port city+pirate analogy is the best one!

    I guess i'll just do a sort of appendix thing.

    New question;

    Appendix? Yes or no?
     
  12. Puppet121
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    Puppet121 Member

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    Response is in bold.


     
  13. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    Might need to rephrase that question, and you know.. bump.

    As far as appendix goes, should I avoid the large info dump and replace it with the appropriate field, a 'bonus material' at the end?
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A book appendix has one thing in common with the internal organ of the same name:

    When it becomes noticeable, it's not generally good news.
     

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