1. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    Should fiction be exciting?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Backward OX, Sep 9, 2009.

    I am presently embroiled in discussions with another writer over the need for my WIP (fiction) to be exciting.

    It isn’t, and it’s his opinion that it should be.

    Note, I didn't say "interesting." I said "exciting." He means it should include heart-stopping explosions and adrenaline surges and stuff like that, and I say nay.

    I feel there would be plenty of published authors who write stuff that is ordinary or everyday in its storyline. By ordinary or everyday I mean interesting stories about people’s day to day lives. I’d like to quote a few to him, to shut him up.

    Unfortunately, I can’t think of any well-known authors’ names and/or book titles fitting that description.

    Can you help?

    Thanks.
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Azumanga Daioh
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Exciting may be too strong a word. It needs to be interesting, though, and stimulating in some way.

    Without plot, a storyline is just a sequence of events with nothing to relate them or give them meaning.

    Without conflict or challenge, there is no plot. And the conflict or challenge has to make the reader care in some way about the outcome.
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Cog has it right. Looking at my bookcase, there aren't many books there with stories I would describe as exciting, but that doesn't mean they're not good books. But they are all engaging by virtue of their great writing.

    That said, virtually all of those books are either general or literary fiction, and neither genre takes an exciting plot as a prerequisite. The same is obviously not true of crime novels, where the race to stop a killer is generally very fast paced and exciting, and action stories across crime, fantasy and scifi where there is a need for excitement and action to propel the story along. That's not to say there aren't slower moments in those kinds of books, but you need to be aware of generic conventions and what the reader expects (and if you are deliberately subverting these expectations, you need to ensure that it is still readable and enjoyable by people who read those books).
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I would say that being exciting isn't (and shouldn't be) a prerequisite for fiction. Even a murder mystery can be slow paced. Pretty much all literary fiction deals with normal people with everyday problems. What happens to the characters is usually by no means "exciting." Besides, different readers are excited by different stuff. Some readers might need explosions and epic battles to be exciting while others may find a simple love story exciting.
     
  6. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    *cracks up*


    And out of left field... Azudai!


    I'm not sure most people would accept that as an example. Which is a big loss for them.:D But does sort of disqualify it as an answer to BO's question.
     
  7. Fiel
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    Fiel Member

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    It should be interesting. To my understanding, exciting is a bonus when you're focusing on a high-paced action that contain quite a risk for the character.
    If it's full or heart-stopping action all the time, then the book could be hazardous for the reader's health. :eek:

    Give the readers the "gap" between actions (if you include some). It'll will be a peace period where the reader rest and relax.

    Regardless, writing should be how you want it to be. It's your story. If it's me I would make it interesting most of the time, and exciting only when it involve a risky battle or action. Again, it's your story.

    If it's book, I kinda enjoy Lirael's life.

    My humble opinion. :D
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Mysteries aren't usually exciting, not in the way you've described. So throw mysteries and romances at him.
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    He could be right in the sense that conflict is exciting. A story without conflict is boring. Though, conflict doesn't have to be about explosions and near-death experiences. Conflict can be between family members, friends or lovers, or just internal.

    You want to know what happens next, because the friction of the story tells you clearly that things cannot remain as they are. In a sense, that's excitement. Well, actually I think it's the most exciting thing imaginable - knowing that everything will change, but not how.

    If your story starts to flow conveniently, it will become boring. Think of things that could ruin the flow and create conflicts - even small ones add to the excitement.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course it doesn't need the adrrenaline and explosions. Most books don't have them and are better off without that degree of action.
     
  11. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    It's a matter of tastes. Some people like exciting. Some like romances, or tear jerkers. Some like the Da Vinci Code and some like Salem's Lot and some like My Sister's Keeper and some like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Some even like David Copperfield.

    Interesting is good. Not too many people like to watch grass grow, or read a twelve page description of someone clipping their toenails.

    But a roller coaster? It might be nice for some, but then again, not for others.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    angela's ashes
    the memory keepers daughter
    jonathing livingston seagull
    beaches

    and many in the romance genre
     
  13. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    I haven't read the others but I loved this one... and Illusions can go on the list as well.

    Another good one for the list is Ishmael.

    Charlie
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ishmael is great!... gotta love that ape!!!
     
  15. Cyrano
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    Cyrano Member

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    Jane Austen.
     
  16. OpposableThumbsBoy
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    OpposableThumbsBoy New Member

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    I'm reading Woolf's To the Lighthouse for class right now. And while I'm only around 50 pages in or so, I can tell you right now that it isn't exciting. In fact, there's almost no plot at all. It's mostly just fairly ordinary people going about their business and thinking a lot.

    But that doesn't stop it from being interesting—it's still a fascinating novel.

    Excitement isn't necessary for all fiction. That said, it depends on the type of fiction. And something] is necessary to draw the reader in, it just doesn't necessarily have to be excitement.
     

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