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  1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    What "Doorway" do you write?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by J.T. Woody, May 16, 2019.

    I'm at a career development conference and one of the topics was literature and knowing what "doorways" people gravitate toward. The "doorways" are:
    • Story (sucked in to whats going on; situations and scenarios you identify with more so than characters, often fantasy/scifi worlds; worldbuilding. i.e. Tolkien, John Scalzi, others)
    • Character (setting is less "important" to you; characters feels real; empathize/sympathize with character; you get upset over character death, etc. i.e. Harry Potter, "Team Edward/Team Jacob")
    • Language classics; poetic; i.e Wuthering Heights, The Color Purple, Catcher in the Rye)
    • Setting (lots of imagery; without the setting, the plot means nothing; i.e. WWII historical romance fiction)
    Even though this presentation was on the different doorways people gravitate toward to READ.... I couldn't help but think about what doorway I like to write in. Its not to say one of more important over others, for example, just because a novel is story driven doesnt mean it neglects its characters and vice versa.
    I know I like to read Character and Story driven plots more.... and I think I writing Story driven plots for longer works, and Language for shorter works of fictions.

    What about you guys? What doorways do you read vs write?
     
  2. flawed personality

    flawed personality Engaged to an Amazing Batman :) Contributor

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    I think the only one I don't read or write is Language.
    I like to get sucked into the story, or relate to the character. If I can't, then it's unlikely I'll keep reading.
    I enjoy writing relatable characters, because I like to connect with people.
     
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  3. Earp

    Earp Banned Contributor

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    I'm Language, both reading and writing.
     
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  4. Reece

    Reece Active Member

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    Same. I also like reading/writing setting, but it's such a slippery slope for me. I like the setting to be descriptive, but I don't want it to be so descriptive that I start skimming. I definitely wouldn't want a reader to start skimming. I read/write mainly fantasy, so setting is really important for me to help visualize. I also hate reading brown/grey books where like the entire thing takes place in the dirt or under a pile of ash. I need colour in my stories. I hate video games like that too, come to think of it.
     
  5. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I'd like to be wrong but without 'language,' without that kidology that I'm in some kind of armchair, or sat on a flying carpet, without that it all tumbles to pieces, like I'm fireside with a pig {M/F} and he's naked.

    Exceptions - and I've bored about this before - 'Papillon' - the French language reviewers describe the coarse and base dull basic language of the tiresome real-life narrator - whereas the translation was by the great Patrick O'Brian, the sea stories man...and is beautiful [tho' million-seller in boff languages].
     
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  6. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    Character and setting are tied for first place with me, always. I almost never remember the story after reading a book, but always the characters and setting, if I like them. ETA: My writing gravitates toward character and setting as well--interesting people tend to do interesting things and have interesting things happen to them.
     
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  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Supporter Contributor

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    Character/Setting, cause you can't have one without the other. :p
     
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  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Well I'm saying you can't have those without your 'language bones' in the underlay.
     
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  9. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Senior Member

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    I'm character/story. And I'd sort The Catcher in the Rye under character, for whatever that's worth.
     
  10. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    There definitely overlap lol
     
  11. Writeorflight

    Writeorflight Member

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    I tend to read stories that focus both on the story and the characters. Too much of one or the other and I'll lose interest. And I find that my writing tends to reflect what I enjoy reading, so probably the same.
     
  12. Night Herald

    Night Herald Have you seen the Yellow Sign? Supporter Contributor

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    I try to keep all of them nice and inviting, so that as many people as possible will want to enter through one door or another. The same goes for the stories I read; I expect a certain standard. Since I find it so difficult to eliminate any one of them, I'll instead try to rank them from most to least important.

    As writer,

    Setting: It's hard to decide what should be at the top, but I think it will have to be this. I love worldbuilding to a fault. If I had to choose between making worlds and telling stories, I'm honestly not sure which way the scales would tip. I devote a lot of time and energy to this in many of my works, especially my novels. I suspect this is part of the reason I write mostly Speculative Fiction.

    Language: I'm an amateur linguist and an etymology nerd. I love language. I love playing with it. I love polishing a sentence until it gleams. That's not to say my prose is particularly noteworthy or anything, but it's important to me that it's as good as I can make it. If I were better at it, I might have put language at the very top.

    Story: I had the damnedest time deciding on the 3rd and 4th spot. I picked "story" because the coin came up tails. Seriously though: without story, the rest is pretty much inert. I love creating events and scenarios. If setting is the hot rod I've lovingly built in my garage, story is where I finally get to take it for a spin. The reason I've placed story so low on my list is that story involves plot, and that is something I'm just not very good at.

    Character: I'll admit that I often skimp on character, and don't put in as much work as maybe I should. I'm as attached to my story people as any other writer, I think, but it's not where my work shines the brightest. Plus, something had to occupy the lowest spot.

    As reader,

    Setting: There is nothing I like better than an exciting romp through fresh and exotic realms. Conversely, there are few things I dislike more than a bland, uninspired, utterly transparent setting. If I've taken the tour ten times before, chances are I won't be up for the eleventh.

    Character: I demand a lot from the people whose skin I'm supposed to wear for the duration of a story—or, depending on viewpoint, who I'm walking beside.

    Story: I love an interesting and unique plot. Shame they're so few and far between. I've placed it this low because a work can still be perfectly enjoyable without much of a story.

    Language: It feels wrong to put language at the very bottom when I'm such a sucker for great prose. But, I can live with merely decent prose if everything else is in order.
     
  13. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

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    Almost entirely story, but character and setting both have a part. Everything exists to serve the story. It's what makes the book worth reading, or writing, in the end.
     
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  14. Hublocker

    Hublocker Member

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    I don't even think about it. I just write the story.

    That said, I'm big on story, character and setting. They all are components. I'm in BC on the west coast of Canada and grew up and worked and played on boats and in the woods so that is a large part of my stories.

    Language? I don't even think about, attempt or try to write pretty literary phrases. I just tell the story.
     
  15. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Language. I love beautiful, eclectic prose. But I don't think it's an either or choice. I think Language can be your focus but there's nothing so dreadfully boring as a plotless book with dynamite prose.
     
  16. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Oh well to be sure at the end of the day I was sitting here one morning in my cabin when the adventure began although actually it was the day before. I've always been a woodland kind of guy or was when we moved to the woodland; and there was woodland before but it wasn't exactly the same kind of woodland. Green but brown, brown and green but let me get to the beginning of the story among the trees that morning at suppertime but I can't remember anything, I will tell you tomorrow.
     
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  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Does anyone have an extra key because I can't seem to get any of these doors open? But seriously, I try not to really separate these things too much. They all need to be there and be strong and work together. I would worry about compartmentalizing them too much. They all belong to and a part of the story. I don't really want to be stronger in one area compared to the others. Wouldn't that just make things lopsided? That's sort of how I see it. I've been reading a lot of poetry lately. Not writing it, but reading it seems to help my soul. It could be argued that that is language, but it could also be argued that that is any of these other doorways, depending on how things are approached. My goal is to be a well-rounded writer, and aiming for that has seemed to help me in several ways.
     
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  18. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I dunno, I...tendency to retain a bigoted position on this of all issues. Scientists wouldn't allow any old bucket-head to spout his crap. I don't see why we should be so inclusive, frankly...

    ...
    I don't mean that exactly, y'know but :(
     
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  19. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    There are doorways that overlap. There are some that neatly fall in to these doorways, and there are some that are all or some. The context of that particular session was to for Readers Advisory.... How to advise people (who ask) on what to read next. Its first understanding the doorways and then understanding what doorway a reader gravitates to. Then you recommend authors and books that fall in to those doorways. But, as a writer, I couldnt help but think about how it possibly applies to writing, because, in order to fall into these doorways, did the author write it with that intention of STORY or CHARACTER, or did it just happen that way? Is it the reader that pulls these things out, for example, the reader identified with the SETTING, therefore it is in the SETTING doorway?
    (lol, its amazing how your mind wanders in conferences)
     
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  20. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    I try to write what I would want to read and although I do expect a certain skill in the authors written word I dislike long-winded, flowery pose where a lot of nothing is said.

    For me character and plot are the most important and they are integral to each other.

    Then setting comes last. Setting is nothing without character and plot but I've plenty of books where the setting made no difference - it could have been anywhere and it made no difference to how good the story was.
     
  21. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I like the doorway that the other four doorways you described all lead to.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  22. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    Story, secrets, and the making and breaking of promises. The hint that tells you that there's something more, but it's just out of sight. The moment when all is lost, and there isn't the faintest glimmer of hope. But what is that sound in the distance?
     
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  23. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    If I HAD to pick ONE I guess I’d say Language? Really I’d go for both Language and Story by our definitions.

    Personally I would say I have an ‘idea’ and then scratch it out on paper in whatever way seems most fitting. I am heavily drawn to and solid theme/s that cultivate throughout the narrative - I do certainly have a tendency to go full on with descriptive writing and many find my stuff too ‘purple’.

    Maybe a lot of this is due to my intellectual inclinations. I write to see what I’m thinking and what it could mean. Sometimes I understand as I’m writing and sometimes I understand only in hindsight.
     
  24. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Story is all I've got. I'm a B-minus scholar, and a pantser. As to characters, it is VOICE. If you can form an image of a character from their dialog, it's extremely powerful. My characters evolve before my very eyes, so pinning every feature in advance is like mounting them to a board with a stake through their heart. Setting gets me from scene to scene and back. I do love those gadgets and tricks and traps :D
     
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  25. Merovingian

    Merovingian Member

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    I feel your pain, me too. Working hard on the later thought. For Language I am cursed with Purple color.
     

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