1. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure if to cut out first chapter...

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by A.M.P., Oct 15, 2013.

    Hey,

    Just a quick question for me today.

    I've been working on this short story and am proud to say I finished it like boss!
    I'm currently in the editing stages and cleaning it all up.
    I can't believe how many times I wrote the word "had" unnecessarily.

    My problem is that the story is heavily character driven with dialogue and personal demons than actual action.
    There is some of that of course and the characters grow and learn as they fix the primary issue they face.
    However, my first chapter, is... short but mostly inner thoughts.
    There is a slight bit of action, the character trying to remember what he had forgotten, and then lots of introspect until it reminds him of what he had forgotten which sets the whole plot in motion as he is the only one capable of saving everyone.

    So.. it's about 4 pages this first chapter. 2 of them are rather dedicated to his own reminiscing as the theme of the world slowly dying around him spatters around in every memory.

    Now, rambling aside, would this be considered exposition? Long and boring for the reader?
    Because, I'm thinking, why would YOU care about his past even if you notice the motif of the story shaping up in his memories. I care because I love my little world I built but you don't have that initial attachment.
    So.. I could technically just... cut it. Chapter 2 starts well enough and leads straight into some action. However, you would lose most of the character's inner mentality and the foreshadowing would also be lost.

    The issue is, normally, I would cut out the "boring parts" and keep the action front and center so the reader is interested in what's going on and expose the character slower but this first chapter has maybe a pages worth of actual action.


    So, Any advice?
    I could try adding the personal details later on but the issue is that I'm not sure if they would fit well and once more I'd hate to lose the initial motif taking place as chapter 2 is takes front center.... Maybe I'm overthinking it too much.
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    What does your instinct tell you? Exposition can work as long it has a feeling of action, or in shaping the
    character or world the reader is about to enter. But is everything revealed elsewhere? Maybe it's a prologue
    disguised as a first Chapter.
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @peachalulu
    I don't want to trust myself on this.
    I think my emotions are clouding me from something I'd normally cut off but another part of me says it works.

    None of those things are revealed elsewhere, it's a part where I present the character and what he had to struggle with and which is not yet finished.

    I could call it a prologue but would that solve the problem?
    I normally think of prologues as short introductions where something sets things in motion but unrelated to the MC at the moment.

    However, I also am used to writing stories that are more fantasy oriented and have lots of action. This is more slow paced and filled with dialogue and introspect, maybe for that reason that little lack of initial actions works because of what I am writing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Difficult to say without reading it - why don't you post two snippets in the workshop on the same thread. A page from each chapter
    and let the critiquers give you some feedback on which works best as an opening.
     
  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    sometimes as writers we fall in love with our stories and characters and fail to be objective. When this happens we need to walk away for a few days, work on something else and then come back as if someone else wrote it.
     
  6. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Dang, not again >.>
    I tried that once, after I finished my first draft, to remove myself from it so I can reread it with a fresh mind.
    It did help, perhaps that is a good option.

    @peachalulu
    It's for the annual Sci-Fi contest, so I don't think I can post it.
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Ah! Then I'd go with Erebh's advice - nothing helps like time. Everything fresh seems brilliant - mainly because
    of the time and the accomplishment of finishing the scene. But in a week or two it might be easier
    to look at it critically.
     
  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    It's what I'm considering, atm.
    I've worked so much on it lately I feel like a break could be good.
    Reading the same pages over and over is getting to me :p

    I am thinking I will change it but I'll let the idea simmer for now.

    Thanks for the advice.
    It helped me clear my head.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Rule of thumb: If you're wondering whether to remove part of your story, you probably should. The natural inclination is to keep it, because of all the work that you invested in it. So if there is any inclination to trim part of it, sharpen your scimitar and start slashing.
     
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  10. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    How dare you be a voice of reason?
    lol, I am thinking I have to. The more I look at it, the more I feel it may be... unnecessary.

    Edit: Damn!
    I answered myself multiple times in my OP!
    The answer was in me all along, lol.

    Yeap, I guess I was so engrossed in having that particular "scene" as my intro that I lost sight of what I know.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know how long your 'story' is, but I'd echo Peachalulu's suggestion that you post your starter chapter on the forum? Or, better yet, especially if it is long, maybe have somebody else you trust read your entire story for you and give you feedback?

    There is nothing inherently bad in showing a character's innermost thoughts at the start of a story. In fact, especially if this character is your narrator or protagonist, it can shape the way the reader will look at what comes next. It can be a very powerful tool.

    However, it does need to be an arresting set of ideas, presented in a very personal voice, that gives insight into how this character thinks and feels. It should never be just an excuse to 'tell us what happened before.'

    I know what @Cogito said is probably true, at least most of the time. But not all the time. You are not always the best judge. You won't actually know how your work will be received until you let others read it.

    I know had several spots in my novel that I was wary of, and they turned out to be spots that my readers particularly liked and remarked upon. I also had spots I thought were pretty good that fell flat as a pancake when the readers got to them. So the writer is not ALWAYS the best judge of what works and what doesn't. You can work yourself into a state trying to second-guess how something's going to fly. The quickest way around that, is to let people read it, and listen to what they tell you afterwards.

    Congratulations, by the way, at finishing what you started! Quite an accomplishment.
     
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  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Be careful there - introspection does not necessarily a bad chapter make, lol. I've learnt that the question, "Why would you care?" or "Why should you care?" is the wrong question. It's the first chapter, so the answer always is, "No reason." I have concluded that the "Why should you care?" question is popular only because most of us, writers included, often can't tell why something didn't hook us. We can't pinpoint the specifics, so we resort to this general cover-all.

    The more helpful question to ask yourself is this: "Is it interesting?" Interesting openings make you ask questions, therefore it is easier to determine. If your opening makes the reader ask question like "why, how, what happened?" then you're doing a good job. A conflict presented in a boring way would not necessarily conjure these questions, and introspection, exposition and even pure philosophising, if done right, could conjure these questions. The point is, are you making your reader THINK?

    Watch out too that the whole world does not adore Shakespeare. My point being, even if there's nothing wrong with your work, someone out there will think it's flat. Don't change it every time someone thinks it's boring. Focus rather on what sort of book you're writing and what sort of elements those kinda readers will look for, and please yourself as well as your niche audience. Just don't try to please the world. I've had at least 5 different readers tell me my opening hooked them and they couldn't believe how fast they read it all, one of those is a writer and English teacher who've written books and taught poetry and she said she almost didn't believe someone as young as me with no literary background wrote what I did because it was that good in her opinion. I watched one of my friends glued to the screen reading my first 3 chapters, and her apologising for being rude and then turning right back to the screen to keep reading.

    Then I get this guy who completely trashed it, telling me I ought to add more detail, be more elegant, show him more of this, tell him less of that. He hated every last word on the page.

    So what do I do?

    Well, I'm gonna ignore him, is what. And sometimes that's the best thing you can do for both yourself and your book. Esp when the changes are geared towards changing your voice.
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    IMHO, this is nothing for which one should feel the need to apologize. I occasionally find that laying a problem out is a very good way to analyze it, and this forum can be very useful for that. I recently resolved a thorny problem with my current project that way.
     
  14. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    It was just a 'tell us what happened before' kinda thing but the personal backstory kind.
    It had to go.

    And thank you!
    First time I finished something longer than a short story :-D

    @Mckk
    I wish I had done a good job :p
    It was useless exposition, it gave literal nothing more but back story to a character that had no use story-wise.

    @EdFronNY
    Yeah, just writing out my issue and hearing other chimes in kinda gave my thoughts some focus on the matter.
     
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  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Um... At first you mentioned a short story, then you talk about a chapter. I'm lost. :oops:
     
  16. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    It's 16000 some words.
    It's actually a novelette.
     
  17. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    If your character is alone and thinking, you have a talking head. Here's what David Mamet has to say about that, and scenes of exposition, in general.

    Always keep in mind that your reader comes to you to be entertained, not informed. They don't want to get to know the character in depth except as that character relates to the action in progress. They want you to set the house on fire, or drop a body through the roof. to force the reader to think about what to do about it—and then calibrate their response based on your protagonist's reaction. The protagonist is our avatar and friend, not the subject of an in depth report.

    So ask yourself if all that internal exposition makes the reader a participant or a member of the audience.

    You can write a story all in exposition, or in introspection, but to make to work you raise no questions other then the ones you want asked. And after raising them in the reader's mind you in some way address them, which gives the feeling of interaction between reader and writer. Lacking that, introspection may tend to bore the reader.
     
  18. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    That's good advice.
     

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