1. Forde
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    Forde Member

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    Long, descriptive Introductions.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Forde, May 1, 2009.

    A while back, I wrote a script. The beginning of it described a long camera fly-by introduction through some countryside and eventually entering a building to meet the main characters.

    Now, I've returned to the script but I want to turn it into proper fiction and I'm wondering if I can keep the descriptive introduction. Most of the books I've checked from my shelves get stuck into dialogue almost immediately, so I'm rather unsure.

    The intro would run to a few pages long, maybe 2-3,000 words long.
     
  2. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    3000 words long... of description... on the opening? After the first two paragraphs I'd be "Get with the story all ready!". Description is the lowest paced narrative there is. You don't want to alienate your readers right?
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    My chapters are usually not even that long. Think of how many pages that would be. If it's got about 350 word per page when published, that's eight and a half pages of pure descriptive introduction. Something has got to happen within those eight pages to keep me interested.
     
  4. Forde
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    Forde Member

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    Hmm, yeah you're both right. I have revised the introduction and punctured the narrative with some dialogue. I just really like writing vivid scene-setting!


    By the way, I meant to write 1-2,000 words long but must have hit the wrong keys! That's still pretty big though. Maybe I'll post it when its in better shape to see what you guys think.
     
  5. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    The danger is dumping all this information onto a cold reader looking for entertainment. It also breaks the classic rule of show don't tell. Coupled with the fact that its at the beginning of a book, may spell disaster.
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    1000-2000 words is a short story. Each chapter should sort of read like a short story. The character should have a goal in mind. If he is trying to reach that goal, the story has momentum.

    It is best to sprinkle description to break up the story telling and only for we can see what is happening. Make each descriptive sentence count. Sometimes I describe the setting with only sentence; although, not everyone likes that. But I have a good imagination, so I don't need a lot of details. I would rather descriptions in novels be like they are in screenplays, but that's just me.

    The Victorian is tall and lime green and white. Daisies sprinkle the grass surrounding the house. A tire swing dangles from an old oak tree. In the distance, ducks float in the pond, quacking.

    That's all I need.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    without seeing what you're dealing with, all we can do is speculate... it's possible that your writing could be so captivating, that the readers will be happily swept along with your description, not minding a bit that nothing is happening yet... not likely, but possible...

    so, why don't you post the first page, so we can provide you with more informed opinions?
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    If I responded, I would be, basically, reiterating (surprisingly) what Maia has already said.

    Instead of having everyone conjecture aimlessly, you should give us - at least - a sample of this introduction.

    It could, very well, be written in such a way as to make the reader very interested in discovering who lives in this place.

    Also, I want to know how to describe a 'fly by'. Enlighten me.
     
  9. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I fail to grasp the purpose of a 3,000 word description of a countryside before the introduction of a character. The countryside better be darn important!
     
  10. Chips
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    There are no 'rules' in writing. It depends entirely on context and intention. What others have said is true; if there is a reason for having such description (something more precise than 'setting the scene', that is) then of course it can be valid.
     
  11. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually do a thousand words or so, with a few actions to keep the pace but no dialogue, and a reasonably detailed overview of the setting, only going into details where appropriate. When I do go into detail, though, I use a lot of it.
     
  12. Chime Elf
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    Chime Elf New Member

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    Hmmm, I agree with most. 2-3000 words is far too long for just an opening. Most people would be well into their second chapter by this point. I'd leave it a one page AT THE MOST. The ideal length would be half a page, but in saying that, I haven't read your introduction. For all I know it could be the most riveting writing I've ever read. :)
     
  13. A.J.Crowley
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    A.J.Crowley Senior Member

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    3000 words is far too long for the type of introduction you’re describing. A second point, flyover sequences work on screen but they seldom work on paper and usually degenerate into something like this

    …and on the hill were several trees, and behind it a small brook which marked the edge of the property of....

    Except much more descriptive.
     
  14. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I'm an in media res kinda guy myself, but there have been a few exceptional examples of books that open with long passages that contain very little narrative development but are still captivating. That said, they were exceptional in the truest sense of the word; most writers definitely need some direction to hold my interest...I think everyone feels like they have a few favourite writers who they could just listen to talking abut nothing in particular forever just to hear them put together words....
     
  15. Forde
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    Forde Member

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    Well thanks for teh feedback guys; I appreciate it. I decided pretty quickly to dump the idea. I maintain that it would have been a great introduction if employed in a visual medium but perhaps not when novelised.

    I'm tempted to reproduce it here, but I'd have to spend a bit of time polishing it and, considering its abandonment, that would be rather futile.

    Anyway, thanks again!
     
  16. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I think long descriptions are fine, as long as they advance the story or reveal a character. Otherwise I will feel like my time has been wasted and become bored.
     

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