1. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    Stuck in the forest with nothing to talk about

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ilocar, May 25, 2010.

    I have an issue.

    I have two Characters who've been in the Forest for a month, so they're probably pretty well acquainted. They just woke up after a pretty eventful night. I have about 3 pages of daylight to fill with conversation and other elements of traveling through a hostile forest before their last eventful night in the forest. I have no idea how to fill the gap. what do they talk about while they're walking through the mists and shadows? Help.
     
  2. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    If you can't think of conversation to fill up the time then use events to break the silence, for example, snakes, insects, weather, river crossings, lack of resources and all the usual stuff you find in a forest.
     
  3. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    That's the problem, I can't do that. They just spent the night fighting for their lives against a nightmare creature and their about to spend another night the same way.

    if I have any more random enemy encounters my story will look like it's being moved along by Animals. It really needs to be conversation because I haven't had the chance to really characterize one of the characters and the two of them haven't gotten to talk in-story yet.

    I also have to set up a good relationship between them, so that when one of the character's gives the other a rare mineral that she could sell for butt-loads of cash she just gives it to the other character because he needs it and she sees him as a friend. To do all that, they need to be on speaking terms. plus the place where I got stuck literally begs for dialogue next.
     
  4. Doug J
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    Doug J Active Member

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    You could start with one character giving a nasty - but inadvertant - insult. For example, if they do not know each other well, one character might say, "that tree over there looks just like those awful Hilicks females from the Zornphile planet, don't you think?"

    And that innocent opening could lead to another character saying something like, "my mother was a Hilick."

    And from there you can give your characters depth - or increased shallowness - that would provide the reader some back story, value determination - and some wisecrack oppty that you can use elsewhere.

    Just a thought.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This would sound like an opportunity to include some exposition, which contrary to a post I read elsewhere in the forum is not an infodump.

    Remember that unless you have chosen the style of the TV show 24, you don't have to, and should not, marionette the characters through every actual minute of their day. This would be a good place for some internal thought on each of their parts concerning what is happening, their lives before this mess, loved ones and relationships they have left behind, the loaf of bread they are only now realizing that left in the hearth. Anything that gives us insight into who they are. After the battle you mention, some introspection on each of their parts would only seem natural. As they are giving to the reader of their internal selves, so to speak, you can flash from one part of the day to the next without actually walking them every step from breakfast to dinner to beddy-bye.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If nothing eventful tales place during that day, you can compress the day down to a few paragraphs.
     
  7. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think I am one of those who said Exposition can be info dump in the other thread :) .... if only it is not used properly. A bit of introspection might work here but you have to be very crafty to make it not boring. Make sure it is not more than a small paragraph or two.

    Yes, homesickness is one option which would be very natural in such a condition..... may be one of them breaking down unable to bear the thought of dying without seeing his/her love ones and also hating the condition they were in. This will be, in fact, a chance to show their characters.

    So, they don't need to necessarily be talking.

    I think you also need to give some descriptions of the environment as they walk. But the description should be embedded in the action (of them walking through the jungle). You mentioned 'walking through the mists and shadows'. Create some kind of a minor incident to show these to the readers. Example:

    Adam was leading the way and John following a few steps behind. John stopped on his track and turned his head towards the rustling sound. He stood motionless, his eyes narrowing, but the shadows of the thick canopies above made it impossible to see through the undergrowths. When he turned towards Adam, he was not there, swallowed by the mists which drifted like a water creature.
     
  8. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    But if there's no dialogue to characterize the one character, and show that she trusts and admires the other character, how can I show that her giving him the powerful magical object is in character, when it's already obvious that her personality says to sell it?
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why do you need three whole pages?
     
  10. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    otherwise the chapter will come out way shorter than the rest of the chapter's in the book, and by all rights it should be longer to give the idea of the endless monotony that wandering lost in the woods brings.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Then add some hardships and obstacles in the forest to overcome. Perhaps there is an impassable thicket requiring them to find a way around, or a rapid stream too swift and rocky to swim across. Or maybe they hear a large animal tearing up the bushes and decide they need to hide. Or they lose all sense of direction for a time and have to fight off panic.

    The possibilities are endless, without having to resort to bland filler.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope, doesn't need to be longer. If you just use more words to express that stuff instead of the right words then you'll just end up boring your readers. If you describe it well, it doesn't matter how long it is. Chapters should only be as long as they need to be unless for some reason an editor is asking for something specific, and it's no big deal of they aren't all about the same length. I've seen books that have one-page chapters right along with sixty-page chapters. The suggests others have given are good ways to add to a chapter, but there is no reason to feel obligated to add to a section just because it's a little shorter than the others.
     
  13. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    thanks for all your help guys, I basically head-hopped to the girl and had her introspect about her past and lead the reader into understanding her. since we already know the guy's past and stuff from earlier in the chapter it makes sense for me to go into her character, so your ideas were very helpful, thanks
     
  14. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I don't understand.... aren't you the author? Shouldn't you(as an author) be more worried about readers understanding the characters?

    Or, do you mean the narrator? You seem to be saying one of your characters is the narrator (the guy from what I gathered), which means your story is not a third person narration. In such a case, head-hopping is not advisable..... the narrator has to 'understand her' from what he hears, sees, smells, touches....
     
  15. Anonym
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    He might of meant reader.
    Interesting read either way. Glad you figured it out.
     
  16. ilocar
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    ilocar Member

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    oops, that was a typo, I meant reader, already fixed it. and it is limited third person. so it is in third person but I limit it to the thoughts and perceptions of one character at a time.

    neither of these two characters are the Main Character. But they do end up part of the main party so you could call them semi-main characters
     

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