Writing Style Question

I had my first book looked at by a a wise old author with the keys to vast warehouses of knowledge I could only gape at.  Okay actually she was probably twenty years the younger but I am sure you get the gist. One of the suggestions she made was that I NOT use narrative style mixed in with the rest of the book which is second person.  

 

I used narrative for the intro to give a rundown on the world and its environs taking up the first chapter as a historical descriptive.  I could write out the information as second person action but the word count could become unmanageable (It is already 101 K in the first book) I am also afraid if I do not give the history, certain plot elements may be lost for the reader.  Anyone have ideas on overcoming this?  Perhaps start with a tour guide at a museum of history? I have also been warned to be careful of using dialog as a "data dump"

 

Also how do you all deal with the time required for publication matters as well as making sure you keep writing to develop and keep your skill? I try to write at least 10k a week but I am noticing more and more requirements for side needs.

  

Preparing to publish the Heroic SciFi/Fantasy series;

Epik Adventures: Here Be Dragons  

Epik Adventures: Here Be Heroes

Epik Adventres: Here Be Evil

Comments

  • Without seeing the writing it's difficult to comment, but speaking as someone who writes about worlds the reader might not know much about (ancient Egypt in the first book and classical Greece in the WIP) I find it better to include details of the world as part of the narrative as the book unfolds.

     

    A load of historical stuff in the first chapter might set the scene, but unless you get into the story as quickly as possible and hook the reader, they're going to lose interest. Remember that the reader doesn't care about your world until you make them care about it, and you make them care about it with characters and plot. Once you've done that you can start introducing history etc. Do it too soon and they'll close the book.

     

    As for your second question, I'm not sure what you mean by publication matters. Can you elucidate?

     

     


  • WWDowd wrote :

    NOT use narrative style mixed in with the rest of the book which is second person.  

     

     


    I don't get it. Do you mean it's a sort of correspondence with the narrator addressing another person, and using the second person singular as in: "The other day you said you would never drink tea. Yet ..." ?

  • Smiley Happy A writing error I will have to work on, making sure there is enough information for a complete picture.  By publication matters I meant cover work, determining publisher and style, developing a good face book/twitter/web site, making sure the format fits the requirements, reading, rereading and re-rereading for proofing.  It seems the deeper I get the more side requirements seem to pop up.  

     

    Just surprised at the time required to write that is not actually writing as I had understood it when i started the project. I had focused on completing the rough draft, then getting a clear edit to fix the multitude of typing and writing errors so obvious even i could see them.  Luckily I believe the proverb that tells us, "Hard work can overcome lack of talent if you are willing to spend the time"  I may never be a Stein or a Rowlings but that doesn't mean I can;t become a respectable author if I am willing to put in the sweat equity.

  • Thanks for the info and I think the answer will be just that. I am looking at it and I can remove the first chapter entirely and split into segments throughout the book, focusing on placing the background close to where it is a factor of plot. This seems a bit of a sudden dive in,at the beginning but my wife seems to think it starts out more effectively. Who an I to argue with my only reader to date? Smiley Happy

  • WWDowd a écrit :

    I am also afraid if I do not give the history, certain plot elements may be lost for the reader.  Anyone have ideas on overcoming this?  Perhaps start with a tour guide at a museum of history? I have also been warned to be careful of using dialog as a "data dump"


    Feed the data in the narrative and the dialogues as in the following example.

     

    The Pompei mansion was still impressing, but the small number of slaves spelled the master was impoverished.

    "Why does Maximus Vibius want to see me?" wondered Septimus.

    "I haven't got the slightest idea," mused Ascolpus, admiring the frescoes representing some mysterious rite, perhaps Mithraite. "The reds are so rich."

    "I beg your pardon?"

    "The painter must have charged him a huge fee for such a masterpiece."

    "Oh! Yes, probably. Wasn't his son supposed to welcome us?"

    "He said so in his letter. His writing is so bad that the letters keep clambering on one another as though they wanted to make small ones."

    "He's just an unbearded youth. This probably reveals his urgent dreams."

    "At least there are enough chairs and cushions to sit comportably while waiting for him."

    "Look at this one! It's Egyptian with two bronze lion heads. Could be a throne, couldn't it?"

    "Maximus has several merchantmen shuttling between Alexandria and Pompei."

     

    And so on.  Smiley Happy

     

     

     

     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    WWDowd wrote:

    I had my first book looked at by a a wise old author with the keys to vast warehouses of knowledge I could only gape at.  Okay actually she was probably twenty years the younger but I am sure you get the gist. One of the suggestions she made was that I NOT use narrative style mixed in with the rest of the book which is second person.  

     

    I used narrative for the intro to give a rundown on the world and its environs taking up the first chapter as a historical descriptive.  I could write out the information as second person action but the word count could become unmanageable (It is already 101 K in the first book) I am also afraid if I do not give the history, certain plot elements may be lost for the reader.  Anyone have ideas on overcoming this?  Perhaps start with a tour guide at a museum of history? I have also been warned to be careful of using dialog as a "data dump"

     

    Also how do you all deal with the time required for publication matters as well as making sure you keep writing to develop and keep your skill? I try to write at least 10k a week but I am noticing more and more requirements for side needs.

      

    Preparing to publish the Heroic SciFi/Fantasy series;

    Epik Adventures: Here Be Dragons  

    Epik Adventures: Here Be Heroes

    Epik Adventres: Here Be Evil


    When you say "narrative style" and "mixed with ... second person" -- By narrative style, I assume that you mean an authorial omniscent, where you are describing the story to the reader, and are able to peek into anyone's thoughts at any time:

     

    "Now Umlaut was the king of Punctuaria, and had reigned since the day his father, Semicolonus, had tripped over a misplaced comma. Curse that comma, killer of kings! And yet Umlaut's enemies knew, in their hearts, from whence the errant comma came..."

     

    Whereas second person would be:

     

    "You looked to your left, and you saw the bloody footprint. You knew then that Semicolonus' fall had been no accident!"

     

    And I must agree, those styles do not match. Not at all.

     

    You may mean third person (He went, she saw, they did), which melds very nicely with Authorial Omniscient.

     

    You might also mean first person (I came, I saw, I did) which limits the story to a single person's thoughts and understanding -- that would not work with Authorial Omniscient either.

     

    I would agree that to pick one style and stick with it would be a good move.

     

    As for the "Data Dump" well, that's true also. You should never tell us what you can show us. Would you rather have me tell you how Umlaut felt when Semicolonus tripped over a misplaced comma, or would you rather experience it from within Umlaut's mind?

     

    If the story's too long, trim it. Trust me, there are scenes that can vanish and never be missed. The key is for you to find them, divorce yourself from them, and let them go. A short and well-paced story, or even a long and well-paced story, beats a data dump. You may even want to ask yourself, "Is this something that the reader needs to know -- or needs to know now -- or should this be backstory that I alone know, and use to shape the characters and the scenes?"

     

    There's always volume two if you really need to say it all, or books five through forty-seven of an increasingly badly-named trilogy... (as Douglas Adams' once remarked).

     

    Look, consider J.R.R. Tolkein. Brilliant man, wrote some whopping great books, made up languages and alphabets and a host of other stuff, just to have deep deep deep backstory behind his characters. His Hobbit and his LOTR are lovely, well-paced books. BUT EVERYTHING ELSE HE WROTE varies between the nicely-written and the sketchy data dump. In the Silmarillion, the Ainur is a nice piece, and the story of Beren One-hand... But there's a ton of really boring intervening stuff. And he had rooms full of further sketches, which his son has since published. Some of its' well-paced and great, other parts... Are other parts.

     

    But look what he did: The parts that were great narrative he published and they were wonderful! And the parts that only he needed to know... They stayed in his closet. Good editing and good judgement, that's what that is.

     

    Look at it through the readers' eye, not your own. Don't be seduced by the sound of your own voice. Be willing to cut off any scene, however precious it is to you, if it does not advance the story, or if it is too cumbersome for the story.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    Keep writing, keep working, keep reading, and keep learning.

     

    Above all, when you read a book you like, ask yourself, "What did the writer do to make me like this book so much?"

     

    I had trouble with transitions for the longest time, but I finally began examining how my favorite writers dealt with transitions, and I began to see how to do them. Now, I pride myself on them.

  • Your punctuation characters is a very amusing idea.
  • What finally happened;

     

    Completely deleted the prologue.  After careful looking it was not absolutely necessary, a few properly placed actios took care of the required reader knowledge.

     

    Searched for data dumps. Found several, usually when I had small side plots with characters that were barely worth giving a name. Reintorduced data at other points or, if the reader ddin't have a specific need to know, dumped it.

     

    Made sure requred plot elements were mentioned three time to make sure the reader didn;t moss them.

     

    Final result so far - 102k words

     

    (Also you are right, It is third person, not second person) Still like the narrative style, just no way I could pulll it off for an entire story. 

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:
    Your punctuation characters is a very amusing idea.

    The villians would be slash and backslash...

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    WWDowd wrote:

    What finally happened;

     

    Completely deleted the prologue.  After careful looking it was not absolutely necessary, a few properly placed actios took care of the required reader knowledge.

     

    Searched for data dumps. Found several, usually when I had small side plots with characters that were barely worth giving a name. Reintorduced data at other points or, if the reader ddin't have a specific need to know, dumped it.

     

    Made sure requred plot elements were mentioned three time to make sure the reader didn;t moss them.

     

    Final result so far - 102k words

     

    (Also you are right, It is third person, not second person) Still like the narrative style, just no way I could pulll it off for an entire story. 


     

    Good call. 102k is an excellent length. some go up to 150; some run around 80.

     

    The writer's best friend is a brutal editor.

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