1. Keitsumah

    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

    Aug 7, 2012
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    Scene transitions (Calling all Fantasy fanatics!)

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Keitsumah, Oct 17, 2014.

    Okay guys, here's a question: I've been working on my book again but came across something interesting, and it's potentially something that concerns my audience.

    When you read a book and the character is/has traveled a distance, do you like the setting to be laid out first, or for the character to be there, in the action, then have the setting described bit by bit?

    In short: the scene im working with is that the MC is traveling to an old watchtower in a forest. The watchtower looks to be the ruins of an old fortress, and is crumbling to pieces. I could have this place described, and have her go up the ladder to meet with the other character who is in the top floor of the watchtower.

    But I also realized I could have the scene transition jump right into the argument between the two characters, and describe her surroundings from there in snippets between their conversation.

    It may seem blatantly obvious, but I'd just like to know for sure what kind my audience would prefer. The story is high fantasy, YA oriented.

    So what do you guys like?
  2. Okon

    Okon Contributor Contributor

    Sep 26, 2013
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    I would prefer a brief description of the location first, and more details later. I like knowing where I am basically as soon as possible.
  3. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    Oh, without a doubt, orient the reader immediately.

    It doesn't really matter how you do it. You don't have to actually do it in the watchtower scene itself. You can set it up in the previous scene, if you prefer to leap straight into the conversation—but you do need to set it up. You could end the previous scene by saying that your named main character is going to meet the other character (whose name we presumably also know this far along in the story?) in the watchtower. Then when you start the next scene with the expected conversation (complete with speech tags to let us know who the speakers are), the reader should be fine. We were expecting these two to meet in the watchtower, so we will assume that's where they are. Then by all means dribble in some description of the place, if you want to.

    But NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER leave your reader confused about what is going on or where something is taking place. The best that will happen is they will start skipping ahead or going back to figure it out. However, the worst is they will assume the wrong location and/or speakers, and then you can be in real bother.

    It's probably top of my writer's checklist. Clarity. I will sacrifice ANY other aspect of storytelling before I'll sacrifice that. And by clarity, I mean always orient the reader. A reader should never have to skip ahead or go backwards to figure out where they are in the story. Why? Because such an action takes them out of the story, and all the magic you've been weaving is going to be wasted.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
    Empty Bird, Okon and sunsplash like this.

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