1. Paragade
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    Paragade New Member

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    Too much information in first chapters?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Paragade, Aug 7, 2014.

    I was rereading my work, trying to see if I, as a person, would like it.

    I realize that I put way too much information in the first few chapters, too much to process. When I say 'information', I mean Setting, little elements from that world (I'm writing sci-fi) like advertisements for future products (that's intended to sound completely ridiculous), information about the character's past and more importantly, information on 'special abilities' that three of my characters will have. Specifically, they live in a world where people having these special abilities were the norm and one of them is going to be slated to have them and I realized that right after I went into detail about how the main characters live their lives, I jump right into another information bombardment about these abilities.

    I want to take the excess info them away and talk about them further along the big so it doesn't turn into a huge cluster of information. Except I'm not sure what is essentiel, what will confuse the reader if I don't put it in the first few chapters, when can I bring them up in future chapters...can anyone help? Does anyone have this kind of problem?
     
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  2. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    Could you provide an except? If you don't want to, do you go on for pages at a time with this information?

    Also, there's a lot of discussion lately about "showing vs telling" that you might want to skim through on these forums. Give them a reason to use the ability and then show the reader the ability. Or you can step out of the norm and create a glossary of sorts that contains all the detail you want and you don't need to info dump in the middle of your story.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I recall reading something from JK Rowling when she said she realized she was revealing too much too soon in her chapters. She fixed it. :)
     
  4. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    I'd say leave the ads in, they can provide atmosphere. Discussing powers in a world where they are common might not be necessary. I'd give us that information in a drip. Giving us character back story can take away from what they are doing NOW, so you might want to filter that coffee too, as it were.
     
  5. Nathaniel Bayne
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    Nathaniel Bayne New Member

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    Your best bet might be to have a close friend or two read the parts you are concerned about. They should be able to tell you what info fits and makes sense and what info doesn't seem to be relevant enough and should be added in later.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go ahead and finish your novel. It's a first draft. Take note of where you can include the information later, in context and do it.

    You are correct in that flooding a reader with info can be a turn off. A possible way to determine what is needed for the reader is to consider the purpose of the introduced information: Is it more along the lines of 'something the reader needs to know,' or is it more along the lines of 'this is a really neat idea/aspect of the world I want to share.'

    The former is obviously what you're striving for, but that doesn't mean the latter should always be avoided, but maybe selectively included. Sometimes the two intersect, and there is no question. :)
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Paragade - Does anyone have this kind of problem? Yep. I sure do/did.

    I have an unusual set of circumstances which the reader needs to know about before proceding into the main story's action—otherwise the readers get the wrong end of the stick. I left this information out of my first draft, and people did get the wrong end of the stick about my main character. This isn't a hypothetical situation for me; it actually happened. In my re-write, I've included a prologue that deals with this odd situation. This has worked, and the people who have read my whole MS are on board from the beginning now, but I'm still trying to refine the VERY beginning few pages.

    The problem is, I can present this unusual 'status quo' in an interesting manner, in scene-by-scene interactions involving my main character. It's not an info-dump, but nothing actually HAPPENS or changes right away.

    That idea that you start a story at the point of change doesn't always work. If what the story is changing from isn't clear, then it needs to be made clear, and it's not always something you can trickle into the story later on. So I'm treading that thin line between starting the story too slowly or diving in too quickly. It's not an easy problem to solve, that's for sure.
     
  8. Hellenic Katatorki
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    Hellenic Katatorki Member

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    Question, when writing your introduction, I noticed authors like Cliff Cussler always provide some historical prologue to their stories - is it good to introduce your opening pages of your novel like this? Should prologues be added or not?
     
  9. CastleEra
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    CastleEra Member

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    If you give away all the secrets at the beginning, we as readers have no wonder to search for. Tolkien started The Lord of the Rings by giving a broad overview of Hobbits and their lifestyle. But he does not tell us about all the races, all the cities, all the dilemmas of the world. He teases us with a hint of lore, and continues to space it out across the book. Only tell us what we absolutely need to know in that moment, and it is okay to leave unanswered questions. If we are curious enough, it will drive us to read on and find out the answers ourselves. This makes readers feel engaged and drives them to read for hours and hours to learn all about these characters and this world. The more you dump on readers in the beginning, the less we feel there will be to discover deeper into the book.
     
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  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    They are rarely necessary. I would write the story and then decide if it's really needed for the reader to follow the story.
     
  11. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    So summarise what action happens in the first chapter. Then decide what information is absolutely vital to understanding that action and those characters in that moment. Everything beyond that can be woven into the story at later stages. By having a bit of mystery about it all you can build interest and suspense in your story as the reader comes across a new concept or an action and then asks why, what's that about? As long as the answer unfolds before it becomes irrelevant you'll be fine and not disappoint them.
     
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