1. OrdinaryJoe
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    OrdinaryJoe Member

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    Unrelated Fluff?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by OrdinaryJoe, Jul 20, 2009.

    So I have been working on my first “Serious attempt” at writing a novel. So far I am happy with what I have put down. (Keeps fingers crossed) I am deep into the fourth chapter and have come to realize that my plot will take some time to develop properly. I am not upset about this. In fact I am actually glad that I have enough of a plot that it will take a while to fully expound on it.

    This is causing me some concern over the story lagging in the beginning though. So I was wondering if adding a traumatic and yet somewhat unrelated event might be something I should consider.

    I am not looking for any ideas as far as what type of personal disaster to spring on my MC. I have never had a problem picking on my characters.

    What I am wondering is, has anyone else run into this type of situation and if it helped the pacing of the book? Or would it be looked at as a gimmick to cover the slow plot development? :confused:
     
  2. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I would advise you consider it carefully, because adding action/suspense/drama/etc. just for the sake of action/suspense/drama/etc. is something to be avoided. Would putting a disaster or catastrophe in be natural at that point in your story, for your character? If it's just in there to add some "excitement" to the story, I think it's not worth it.

    In the earliest versions of my current project, there was always this huge, gigantic terrorist/assassination scene. I put it there because I thought that maybe having some action in the beginning, one where the main character nearly got killed, would interest the reader.

    Wrong. It was a big thorn in my opening, as I never found a good way to maneuver it to make it actually interesting and relevant to the reader.

    There's actually one reason why outright BOOM BADA BANG doesn't work necessarily in the beginning - the reader doesn't care about your characters, yet. They don't know the characters real well, so they don't know what they should be sympathizing yet. If you put your character in danger in the beginning, there's a higher chance that the reader will just shrug it off, because, frankly, the reader doesn't know this character, so why bother?

    In my opinion, out of every other part of the book, the beginning is where you're going to have to do most of what I call "cutting out the crap" - because it's where every single reader, including the editors, will be reading first. You probably already know you shouldn't spend too much time describing the "new" world and all its wonderful characters, but would you also really need that action-packed scene, just to show how "dangerous" the world is?

    I think the most important thing in the beginning is not necessarily trying to get the plot speeding up - that's for the ending, and maybe the middle. The important thing in the beginning is to make the reader interested and sympathize with the character(s), not necessarily the plot; the second thing is to make sure you introduce a conflict - not necessarily the main conflict, but conflict. Remember that action does not necessarily imply conflict; in my opinion, conflict is action/suspense/drama with some depth.

    So, to end my long rant, it seems that the way you're describing it, you're doing what I do all the time - dragging out the plot. Depending on the type of story, it might work, but you have to make sure the reader cares about the story regardless of whether it is fast or slow. That's more important.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Its a mistake to assume your book needs to be fast paced, and it would be simply tragic to compromise your vision for the sake of entertaining readers. If you are happy with what you have written, then go with it.
    Then again, I'm assuming that what you are writing is the kind of book that doesn't need a fast pace. If you're writing an action novel or some slick crime or fantasy story that's meant to be fast and entertaining, then maybe you should consider the pace more. If you're writing something like literary fiction (I think I'm gonna start calling them Art novels, literary carries too much baggage) then pacing and entertainment aren't as important.
     
  4. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I think as long as the event reveals something about the characters and how they interact with their environment its fine.

    Besides, with a little creativity an author can tie in almost any event with the plot.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the story is lagging at the beginning, maybe you're starting your novel in the wrong place, or at the wrong time in the sequence of events in the plot.

    Terry
     
  6. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    My personal opinion is that it doesn't matter so much if nothing has happened so long as you make it clear that something is going to happen.

    Example: Eragon takes a few chapters to really develop, but its pretty clear that something will happen at some point so you put up with the intro chapters until the plot begins. Eragon, while far from perfect, is not a bad effort for a first novel. Brisingr on the other hand throws in some dramatic action at the beginning and then goes nowhere for the rest of its legnth, presenting less a plot than a series of vignettes. Its a poor effort from someone who already had two novels published.
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    First you might want to consider if you're starting your novel too much at the beginning. Story hooks are used to make the reader wonder what happened earlier as much as what will happen later.

    Show something in your opening that makes the reader wonder what happened before that scene, and their curiousity will suck them in. Unlike making them wonder what happens later on, this hook has an instant effect. They feel out of the loop in a sense - they missed something (because it wasn't written) and they want to know the details. Like walking in on a conversation mid-way, there's nothing that makes people more nosy than that. This kind of hook can be extremely minimal. The reader has made minimal effort at this point in the story, so you don't need to throw much at them - just enough to make them read the next hook, and then the next, and before they know it, they're deeply involved in your story.

    Second, there's the principle of foreshadowing. The beginning in some way being a mini-version of the whole story, posing a dilemma or question which will also be the main theme of the great plot. Squeezing in some unrelated side-story at this point would seem greatly confusing and disappointing, if it doesn't build up to the main theme of your story. Some say a story is like a circle - the beginning is the end. What happens in the beginning will subconsciously make us accept the climax of the story. A random (and somewhat cheesy) example that comes to mind is the movie Cliffhanger. It starts off with the exact same situation as in the ending, and we all know that the climber-dude isn't gonna be healed before he goes up there and relives his past trauma.

    I hope this is somewhat helpful.
     
  8. OrdinaryJoe
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    OrdinaryJoe Member

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    Just wanted to thank everyone that took the time to respond. After some reconsideration I have decided to stay the course and not worry about adding in any additional events early in the story. I think that a slow developing plot in this story will work. Even though I have made up my mind on this point, anymore opinions would be appreciated.
     
  9. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    If you feel the story is lagging in the beginning, perhaps you should think of something else to add-in that isn't action related. Something like, say, character development.

    I find that if a plot is moving slowly then it wants to and to prevent yourself from fighting against it and ripping a hole in your quilt a good dose a character development can help the slow plot move along. You can add in a scene where something new about your character(s) gets somewhat revealed or questioned and make it completely natural.

    For example, after some semi-fast paced events in the beginning of my story happen there's going to be a few chapters of slow plot progression to allow for character development (and a way to introduce one plot point/moral issue). It keeps the story from rushing and allows me to explain a few things to the readers before the next bit of action happens.

    Follow the flow of your plot and your quilt will come out beautiful.
     

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