1. LexStorm

    LexStorm Member

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    My characters travel a lot on foot. Not sure how to write it.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by LexStorm, Sep 2, 2019.

    In my fantasy story my main characters spend a lot of time traveling on foot to reach their end point and I'm not sure how much of it I should write. They're going to face a ton of conflict amongst themselves and others along the way which I will write of course, but in terms of showing that they've gone from one place to another or even days where not much happens but them walking I don't know how to go about it. Do I just do small timeskips whenever nothing happens? Do I briefly describe their traveling until something happens? It never feels right to me when I gloss over how much ground they cover because it starts to feel more like they're teleporting to their next destination rather than arriving at it. Any thoughts?
     
  2. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    Just skip it. If nothing interesting is happening then there's nothing to write about.
     
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  3. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    You can describe the environment for bit, you can have them chat, you can have them encounter other people ...
    Take inspiration from movies and books that deal with travel or have a lot of travel in them. An example that comes into my mind would be Lord of the rings. Another is The way back, a movie based on a true story of an escape out of Siberia through Mongolia to India during WW2.
     
  4. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    If you wish to try something different you could add some kind of journal entry to give a sense of time and distance covered with little bits of info to add to the sense of the world they are in - supplies, hunting for food, trade, meals, time spent sleeping, tending to animals, etc.,. Of course that would depend on the style you’re writing in.

    As long as you make the destinations of the characters clear there is no need for the reader to follow their every footstep.

    Another device you could try is switching the perspective. By doing this you can change the speed of time. From first person you are there in the moment, whilst if you drift into second person and eventually third person perspectives you can give a sense of ‘zooming in and out’, or rather ‘fast forwarding’ through the journey.

    Example.

    The grey mist sat cupped between the hills. I slumped on my hammock in the same manner ...

    (Then break and change into second person)

    They packed up and carried on with the journey through the ...

    (And zoom out further)

    The Sun rose and fell, the season came to a close as mists burned away with the coming summer heat ...

    (And back again)

    The city of Wibble was glorious. I looked over my shoulder at the receding mountains. Damn I wish I never see them again! You wouldn’t believe the relief I felt that day.

    Obviously I’m jumping around a lot with perspective here, but you get the idea I hope? You can give a sense of time/distance passing without making it explicit in the writing with blow by blow details.

    GL
     
  5. CaffeineCat7

    CaffeineCat7 New Member

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    In the early evening, he finally reached the city. [you can put here longer description of weather or the new place] It was a long journey; he was tired and hungry, all he thought about was to find an inn to eat and rest.

    This technique is quite good and useful. When I use it, I describe the start of a journey, then make a little time-lapse to describe the end. I describe the effects of the journey - for example, change of weather, time of day or state of the character - as above, he or she may be hungry, tired, angry, dirty or happy to be finally at the destination or, at least, at the place when something important happens.

    They passed ruins of the castle and went down to a valley. The sun was shining down on a river running through the meadows and large fields of grains.

    This is much useful when you want to something happen on the way. You can briefly describe route and then zoom on the point where an important event starts. I think that it's good to stress here on a state of your character (they may feel good after a quick meal at the way, for example) or describe your character's thoughts, showing the hardships of the journey or insert some little flashbacks about it.

    I came up with these examples very quickly, but I hope it helps.
     
  6. LexStorm

    LexStorm Member

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    From what everyone's saying and the examples they gave it seems that I'm spending too much time describing their travels when I can do so in a couple sentences, and I should feel free to skip over moments where nothing really crucial is happening to them (since we don't need to know how their morning started EVERY time). Definitely gonna go back and see if this breaks my writer's block. Thanks for the help!
     
  7. Dorafjol

    Dorafjol Member

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    Opening a scene with a simple
    [After days had passed without anything significant happening, apart from the usual bickering about rations and blisters, occasional trees sprouted from the flat expanse of wasteland. Before long, the scenery became positively foresty.
    "Finally! This here's some good ground for hunting!" said Gnorkolf, peering happily into the darkness.
    "Good ground for an ambush too. Keep your wits about you."]

    This is a casual way to kill some time mid-chapter.
    Sometimes you don't even have to do that. If there's a small amount of travel, say the group spots a ruined city on the horizon and you don't want to write the slog from here to there, a strong indication that there's a new scene is enough. Let's write an example:

    [Blah blah blah as he joined the others at the top of the hill, he saw what they had been so excited about. It was hard to judge the exact distance, but on the horizon towered a massive city.
    "I like it! I haven't slept in a bed for three months!"

    ---

    "I don't like it." Up close, the city was anything but welcoming. Yawning holes pierced the crumbling buildings, and not as much as a chirp in evidence of life. The broken windows might've been boarded up, but the wood was so decayed it could just as easily have been shutters, hanging by a few nails apiece.
    "You don't like anything. Might be there's some shinies to have, if we know where to look."]

    In a new chapter you don't have to indicate anything at all. Just pick up right before something interesting happens.

    I'd say if it doesn't feel strange or jarring, do it. Different people have different tastes though, so I recommend you let other people read your passages if you're unsure. After some time you develop an eye for these sorts of things. (hopefully. I have the same problem more often than I'd like to admit.)

    Edit:
    That's what I get for writing before I refresh the page. That's basically what I said, but neatly summed up. Ah well. I hope there was some useful information to be had from my post anyway.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The characters in The Lord of the Rings walked A LOT, for long distances. You could check and see how Tolkien handled that. Not necessarily his language or style, but the way he passed the time.
     
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