1. JD Anders
    Offline

    JD Anders Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2016
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Texas/Alabama

    Plopping down in the middle of a scene

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by JD Anders, Apr 6, 2016.

    So I have finally sat down to work on an idea that has been brewing in my head for quite some time. I won't get into details, but it is a fairly complicated and layered plot involving 6 MCs. With that in mind, I know that I need to find a way to deftly balance character development and flipping between POVs. Therefore, I am trying to determine the best way to introduce readers to my characters and their stories.

    My question comes to the very first few sentences of a story. When writing (or just reading, for that matter) do you like to have a "table setting" of sorts, where the scene is laid out before you, or do you prefer to be plopped down in a scene, unsure of any character identities or the setting? I have begun to write my first scene in the latter style, as I feel like it aligns better with the idea of showing instead of telling, but I'm afraid my readers may feel disoriented by it.
     
    Seraph751 likes this.
  2. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,962
    Likes Received:
    5,486
    I dislike setup. I prefer to start in the middle. If there is setup, the setup should have the feeling of starting in the middle of something else.
     
    Wayjor Frippery likes this.
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,605
    Likes Received:
    5,085
    I don't think you should "plop" down, but I do like it when scenes start with the action. With the understanding that "action" isn't necessarily action-movie style "action". More the meat of the scene. I don't like a lot of bun around a hamburger, I like steak! No bun!
     
  4. A.M.P.
    Offline

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

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    At first, I read "plopping" with its other meaning.
    I expected a fight scene where someone just... takes a five :p
     
    Seraph751, Oscar Leigh and Nicoel like this.
  5. Nicoel
    Offline

    Nicoel Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    330
    I agree with everyone else! I always start mine in the middle of the "action" even if that's just a conversation with someone. You'll find out who's who soon enough.
     
    Seraph751 likes this.
  6. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,452
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    My WIP is very similar. I started it off with two of the MCs and a bombing. You don't get a good sense of who the people are for about four 4 pages.
     
  7. Nicoel
    Offline

    Nicoel Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    330
    Me too, actually. :p
     
  8. Bryman
    Offline

    Bryman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Colorado
    When writing, I generally tend to do the setup first and decide if I want to maybe cut it out later based on how well things start happening when stuff starts flowing.

    On one side of the coin, you can hook people by starting in the middle of something. You can get someone to wonder why whatever is happening is happening and propel them into your story that way. But on it's flipside, if you don't write that in a way that hooks, you're gonna loose people. I've dropped a handful of books because they started in the middle of something and didn't manage to make me wonder about what was happening or why. I didn't know any of the characters or where they were so I didn't care if they succeeded in their heist or won their duel or whatever.

    So it comes down to whether the scene you want to start on is important and full of the sort of things that will hook a person. Can you make them care about what's happening right away? Or can you make them curious as to what is happening and why? If you can, then that's the way to go. A strong hook beats everything.
     
  9. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    I think if you feel the scene wants some explanation first, try that. And if you feel the scene want some more activity, try that.. I usually go with somewhere in between. You get a description of what's going on quickly but I also give you some description of one or more of the characters quickly as well. Both that way you get a sense of knowledge that combines with what's going on to make it more understandable but I still leave plenty to know and stuff that's going on to follow and see where it goes. It changes though. I don't think there's one answer here.
    EDIT: Oops, typed that first bit wrong.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
    zoupskim and Feo Takahari like this.
  10. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops
    If you don't know whether to introduce the characters or have action, then introduce the characters through their actions. Consider the beginning of Reservoir Dogs. Through a humorous conversation about the music of Madonna and whether to tip waitresses, each character demonstrates their most important character trait that will determine their role and plot arc within the story. (Pink is fundamentally selfish, White has strong moral principles, Blond is casually violent, etc.)
     
    Seraph751 and Oscar Leigh like this.
  11. Lew
    Offline

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    586
    Likes Received:
    402
    Mine starts 150 years prior to setting with remnants of a Roman legion being executed by the Parthians after Carrhae in Syria. History buffs of the era may recognize the scenario, adventure readers will see hot, far-away place, stoic Romans marching up to chopping blocks for beheading. Sudden rescue by Orientals wanting remnants as mercenaries, marching off the next day in somewhat of a full kit, not going home, but not going to hell either. Next chapter is in Roman Senate at start of story 150 years later, Chinese mission being received by Senate and Trajan, ten translators, descendants of those survivors, affirmed as citizens, cohort standards presented, Senator Aulus dispatched to lead return mission to China and story begins...

    What's going on here, Romans and Chinese getting together in Rome? Chinese speaking Latin, what the hell is going on?
     
  12. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Would those characters from Reservoir Dogs be considered caricatures of some type, now you summarise it like that? It's like they're archetypes, but used very well. Reminds me of the conversation over in another thread with @Wayjor Frippery :)
     
  13. Wayjor Frippery
    Offline

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    707
    Location:
    Tranquility Base
    I think they are, yes. And it's a great example of being formulaic and sophisticated at the same time. Tarantino is like a walking encyclopedia of film and when he makes a movie of his own, he just vomits up a grand pastiche of stuff he's seen before. But he does it so well, everyone loves him. In my humble opinion, he's never done anything remotely original, but that doesn't stop us from enjoying his work, does it?

    The puppet master is only a master if you can't see the strings (but you wouldn't ask him to perform without them).
     
  14. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Actually, other than Reservoir Dogs, I don't enjoy Tarentino at all and have no idea why he's so hyped up... I'm just not into graphic and gregarious violence, nor into coarse, crude humour.
     
  15. Wayjor Frippery
    Offline

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    707
    Location:
    Tranquility Base
    Do you know what? I'm right there with you. I did enjoy Pulp Fiction back in the day, but QT lost me after that.
     
    Mckk likes this.
  16. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    To each his own. Personally I enjoyed Djang Unchained, but because of the plot and characters.
     
    Wayjor Frippery likes this.
  17. Wayjor Frippery
    Offline

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    707
    Location:
    Tranquility Base
    We've derailed the thread, haven't we? Getting back to it...

    I agree with @BayView on this:
     
  18. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    Oh, don't worry. I won't fight anyone on that. I'm not that fan-y of Tarantino. Ian McKelllen however... if you insult him I may have to kill you. :supercheeky::supercheeky:
     
  19. Wayjor Frippery
    Offline

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    707
    Location:
    Tranquility Base
    Mckellen can take care of himself.

    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page