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Do I as a writer have to connect every dot?


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#1 Pen

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 03:26 PM

I had this scene where a door gets kicked in and a group of people enter as if they didn't have a care in the world.

 

From the POV of those inside the building all they know is that some kind of aircraft lands outside, the door falls to the ground, and this group just walks in.

 

Someone reading about the scene didn't like it because they said "doors just don't fall down by themselves. Who kicked it in?"

 

Do I as the author have to connect every last dot. Can the reader not understand that the people who walked in most likely kicked the door down?

 

Do I have to (and this still gets me) "show" every little move? Are people that lacking in imagination that I have to connect all the dots?

 

But then at the same time I read things that say the reader is smarter than you think. They'll have a mystery solved in a manner of moments. But yet they want things to be shown. For the sake of humanity don't tell people the character built a chair, show the character building a chair. Don't say the character hammered a nail into a piece of wood, show the hammer getting nailed into the piece of wood.

 

I'm sorry, but who the hell doesn't know what a nail getting driven into a piece of wood by a hammer looks like?

 

Then are info dump issues. Don't explain elements of a story to people they don't want an essay. But then if you go on using terminology from a particular field, then people feel alienated. They'll have no idea what you're talking about. 

For example.

 

The student did as instructed, while waiting for the CDU BIT and EGI alignment process to complete, he turned on the CICU located on the AHCP. Then after seeing the DTS on the MFCDs he set the IFFCC switch to TEST.

 

Now what they freak did all that mean? Can't tell you because that will be info dumping. The evil info dump.

 

 

People want everything to be shown but then get pissed when you have to explain it to them.

 

 

Another thing that got people mad was starting a story in the middle of a battle. Well who is who? I remember reading a review for the show Band of Brothers. They rated it so low because it was difficult to follow and didn't make any sense.

 

I've seen movies that started off in the middle of a battle. Bodies getting blown to bits on top of that. I knew it was the American's fighting the Vietcong.

 

I don't need a backstory on every trooper to understand that this is fighting to stay alive.

 

I mean for instance.

 

His dirt covered hands held the photo of his young and wife and baby. Her smile brought him thousands of miles back home, to a place he loved. The smell of death, blood, and smoke reminded him of the hell he was in, and the realization that he may never see her made his stomach sink. A shell's howl jerked him from his thoughts.

 

"Incoming!" shouted someone.

 

He ducked into his fox hole just as the world around him exploded. The ground shook and tree tops exploded. Splinters, shrapnel, and clumps of ground rained down as the enemy continued their barrage.

 

Okay so what I get from that is that you have a husband and father thinking about being home, but fighting in a forest somewhere, that is getting hammered by enemy artillery.

 

I don't know. In the end. What do people want? Do they want an author to hold their hand or not?

 

 



#2 julialynn

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 11:41 PM

Well...yes and no. You don't have to show every little move, no, but you have to show "just enough" to give a full and balanced picture. This is a specific skill that takes practice and a degree of talent/understanding of how narrative is structured. Most of it is derived from reading and reading a lot of good fiction and forms of storytelling.

 

If there's an action without a person attached to it (such as a door falling down), one might very well assume the door fell down on its own. It's possible. All of the evidence we have is on the page/what you have written, unless there's a suggestion otherwise.

 

Now, there's an extent to which yes, you must trust your reader and not over-state things or spell out the obvious, that's for sure, but if you're starting out as a new writer, I advise over-writing instead of under-writing, so that you can begin to learn what needs to be cut and what can stay put.

 

Let me dive into your scene to show you what I mean:

 

His dirt covered hands held the photo of his young and wife and baby. Her smile brought him thousands of miles back home, to a place he loved. The smell of death, blood, and smoke reminded him of the hell he was in, and the realization that he may never see her made his stomach sink. A shell's howl jerked him from his thoughts. [This is a good start. You set up a visceral scene, with lots of sensory detail, and gave us something to hold onto as readers, i.e. the family photo, which is also character development.]

 

"Incoming!" shouted someone [If you want to stick to this, rephrase as "someone shouted"] [Who is "someone" in the context of this scene? Is it a man? Who is telling the story, and what do they know about the someone? I'd rewrite as: "The protagonist [whatever his name is] heard a shout from outside: "Incoming!"]

 

He ducked into his fox hole just as the world around him exploded. The ground shook and tree tops exploded [You use "exploded" twice in a row; find a different way of saying this. Try not to use the same adverbs/adjective within the same paragraph or two sentences. It doesn't work unless it's a deliberate style choice, and even then it's iffy]. Splinters, shrapnel, and clumps of ground rained down as the enemy continued their barrage. [I assume we are in third person omniscient here, which is why your protagonist is in the fox hole, presumably unable to see this happening, but we the reader/third-party observer can.]

 

So far, I can follow your story and the action. There's no harm, however, in practicing rewording and reworking scenes and sentences. A strong writer will always be thinking of new ways to reword and re-clarify. Be open to suggestions, even if they don't all resonate with you. If more than one person points out an issue, it's probably worth noting.


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#3 julialynn

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 11:45 PM

On the subject of info-dumping:

 

Watch a movie on war and pay very close attention to how technology and situations are introduced. Pay close attention to how information is given, how it's all woven into the context of the story, and exposition is never provided just for the sake of expository detail.

 

Take notes. Seriously. 

 

Also check this out: https://ellenbrocked...d-info-dumping/


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#4 KL Sanchez

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 03:39 AM

I've seen great books go into obscene detail describing a world or scene, sometimes running into a page or two pages just to set up a scene (which usually has me wandering off somewhere else quickly), and others that jump right in, so it kind of depends on the author and reader; everyone does it a little different, everyone reads it a little different. It does take a lot of practice, though, and you end up constantly asking yourself as you write whole passages, "Can the reader assume this, do they already know it, and do I even need to describe it?"

 

I don't necessarily need to describe the color and fragrance of flowers in a meadow, for instance, but depending on the scene it could help set the mood; if two farmers are simply strolling through it while having a deep conversation, probably not, but if the character is alone and thinking deeply, it might just be sensory inputs that can be manipulated to evoke thoughts heading into a specific direction that you want to go in, or to help you accentuate a train of thought (the scent of the flowers may invoke a memory, for instance, or set them at ease in a tense moment).

 

Then again though, I spend a lot of time manipulating the reader's senses to get their mind's eye to see what I want them to.

 

In the case of the kicked-in door, if someone sees the guy doing the kicking from inside with his leg still raised as he steps in and starts spraying lead, that says (and paints) a lot while saying little. It's a very delicate balance and more of an art than a science.


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#5 giffordmac

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 08:45 PM

In the specific case of the guy kicking in the door, when the story is told from someone inside the room's POV, I would simply say that he/they heard a crash and the door fell in.

 

They may not be able to see the guy kicking, but the crash will let them know something's going to happen.


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#6 Thrash

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:53 PM

Striking this balance takes years of practice. One thing I do know for sure is that getting frustrated with those willing to give you feedback is a step backwards. 



#7 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 03:42 PM

It's not so much what "they" want as much as what you want. What details to you the author want the reader to know? I've gotten the occasional feedback of wanting odd details that I thought weren't important. I'd like to think that my readers have enough brain juice to put two and two together. It depends on the reader, too. Some readers like every little thing explained out while others don't mind little details being left out. 

 

To me, it's the importance of the detail. Do we need to know what color Sally's nails were? Unless it's important to plot or character, no we don't. 



#8 taylor lexi

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 05:58 AM

Very informatve thread! Thank you for actually asking this question in the first place :) I love it here, i am always on a constant learning process it's actually incredible!






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