1. FutaMuffin

    FutaMuffin New Member

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    Meandering tangents

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by FutaMuffin, Mar 23, 2017.

    So, do you ever find yourself veering away from the story as your creativity gets the better of you? A line or a paragraph lurking in the text that could easily be cut away, but find yourself loath to do so?

    Basically, whenever I'm hammering away at a short story, I'll sometimes wander off on a little tangent. It could be an analogy that grows arms and legs, a brief spark of backstory for a character relevant to their situation or simply a description or simile that's gotten out of hand.

    Personally, I kinda enjoy my meandering ramblings, considering they are suitably managed and contained. They seem to suit my style, if I can use such a lofty expression and reflect my personality. Sometimes I'm even a little proud of the strange notions that my mind gushes forth.

    Such as an exceedingly comfortable sofa likened to a reincarnated Succubus, or a line of Shakespearean parody that leads to the Hadron Collider?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    This may be a time when you have to apply the "kill your darlings" rule, or it may not be.

    I think it's important for you (or, if you can't do it objectively, for someone else) to look at your piece as a whole. The best line, the most fascinating imagery in the world should be cut if it doesn't enhance the overall effect of the piece.

    But an effective whole is made up of effective parts, so don't over-cut.

    Fun, right?
     
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  3. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    With my reading preferences, I only like overlong analogies and descriptions if they're humorous. Otherwise I find them dull. A 'brief spark' of relevant backstory sounds fine.

    Other readers love lengthy descriptions. You can't please everyone! But... if even you, the author, worry that they're too long, you're probably right. Would it be easier for you to cut them if you made a document for cut material and put them in there for future use?
     
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  4. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I think anything that snaps the reader away from the story is best pruned.

    Michael Chabon, perhaps the most literate fiction writer around, at times, is too clever for his own good. I sometimes find myself so bedazzled by his prose, that I've left the story... as a magpie might admire a bottle cap.

    I should probably nix the magpie analogy... but I won't, because I like it.
     
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  5. FutaMuffin

    FutaMuffin New Member

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    I'm not sure if it worries me as such, but I'm one of those people that enjoys Pynchon and Pratchett, so meandering bullshit is right up my street. And yes, I already have a document set aside for all my ramblings. Normally after I've written a short story (I say short, but they end up about 10,000 words), about 25% will get cut and squirrelled away in a folder bursting with ideas. I'm hoping this pays off in the long run...

    I wouldn't say it snaps the reader away, more lures them down a darkened alley with a beguiling whisper. It often feels like I'm padding out a description. Possible to gloss over my amateurish writing.
     
  6. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Accomplished writers pad their narrative all the time. Have you read any of GRRM's, A Song of Ice and Fire books? My god, he has no shame.
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    So are you writing it for you, or for the reader? Because if your goal is to sell books that readers enjoy, you need to be thinking more about the reader.
     
  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Maybe you write a collection of Oxbow lakes? That's pretty much all I do, that and pornography and the BBC, then I sleep.
     
  9. FutaMuffin

    FutaMuffin New Member

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    Realistically I write for myself with no intentions of actually selling my ramblings. However, my self-confidence and frequently departed ego would like others to get a little bit of enjoyment from my mind gunk. Hence why I'm lurking around here.

    I know what a geological Oxbow lake is, one of the few things I remember from school geography along with onion peel erosion, but in terms of writing, I'm ignorant...
     

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