Description and pacing in fantasy

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by glutton, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. glutton

    glutton Author of Iron Bloom

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    What are your thoughts on this issue? It seems to me that most traditional publishers tend to favor a highly descriptive style which includes lots of detail about many things. However, I personally prefer to write in a more concise, fast-paced style, focused on what happens in the story - action, dialogue, and so forth.

    This is the type of pacing I prefer to read as well, and I also think it might be more true to many third or first person POVs. That is, would you or I really think about the type of fabric the jacket we put on every morning is made of? Probably not, most of the time, and IMO the same would likely hold true for most characters (who has been living in that world their whole life) interacting with things they use or see every day.

    Opinions?
     
  2. nuttz96

    nuttz96 Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Dialogue driven style tends to keep my attention a lot more than the descriptive heavy books. Not trying to say that books with lengthy narrative proses are worse off, but they are much harder to pull off. When done well, it is quite rewarding, but when poorly done, it just drones on and on. Mercedes Lackey's works are good examples for this. I tried really hard to like her books. She has some great stuff, but I always revert to skimming at least some parts of all her works.

    This is also why I like to dabble in young adult books. They are always such mindlessly fun and to the point.
     
  3. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,429
    Likes Received:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    183
    It seems to me that you're talking about secondary world pre-industrial fantasy works rather than fantasy fiction itself and you're pre-selecting for style. If you want fantasy works that are suspense based and script like, there are quite a lot of them. But secondary world fantasy is always going to have a little bit more description than other types of fantasy fiction because it has to build an imaginary world, rather than working from our known one. That description, though, is not always heavy.
     
  4. glutton

    glutton Author of Iron Bloom

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yeah, that's what I'm referring to as opposed to urban fantasy etc.
     
  5. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,429
    Likes Received:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    183
    And did you feel that the noir suspense/dark fantasy secondary world series were not sufficiently descriptionless? Who have you read of them?
     
  6. glutton

    glutton Author of Iron Bloom

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think you might have misinterpreted the intent of the thread, I wasn't saying there are NO secondary world fantasies without too much description just that traditional publishers tend to favor large amounts of description over sparse description. Mostly I was trying to get a sense of whether or not there are many people here who share my tastes. Also some of my favorite authors are David Gemmell, Ed Greenwood, Matthew Stover, David Farland, Robert E. Howard, Steven Pressfield, and Donna Gillespie (although the last 2 are technically historical fiction not fantasy).
     
  7. Lucas Thorn

    Lucas Thorn Cthulhu's Red Bucket

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    26
    i kind of get what you're getting at.

    i miss the 1970s with moorcock, leiber and zelazny. smaller books, for sure. they were powerful in their simplicity.

    as you said, these days a lot of books can feel very fluffed out with unnecessary description.

    having said that, there's a real sense of over-editing, too. i think a lot of older authors wrote in volume in terms of the number of books rather than the size of one book. their volume meant they quickly learnt to tell a real good story or they got lost in the swamp of other writers. you only have to look at the bibliographies of moorcock and his cadre to see the astounding number of books. i feel there was also a sense of character to each author which can get lost with some of the larger tome-writers. all that effort making a virtual wiki within the novel seems to suck a lot of life out of some novels. that editing also makes many writers sound a little too similar. not necessarily the big names, but certainly in the mid range.

    i might be getting all tangential. it's been a long week and my brain is fizzled.

    goodnight.
     
  8. Twinner

    Twinner Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    I am sort of torn on this. I grew to dread Robert Jordan describing what every female in a given place was wearing... right down to the stiching and piping details. On the other hand I love the detailed descriptions GRRM writes of his scenes. I even enjoy him explaining in detail things like what was on the menu at a given feast. So I guess if it helps me to get a feel for the time, place, and situation, and is well done I like it. If it seems to serve none of those purposes for me then I grow bored with it very quickly.
     
  9. chokipokilo

    chokipokilo Unreasonable reasoner

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It only took me a couple chapters to realize I couldn't stomach 14 books worth of Robert Jordan's overly descriptive writing. GRRM, in my opinion, found a good balance, one of the many things that makes his work so accessible.

    I feel like if you're going to go heavy handed with description then the pros had better be damn good. I couldn't say exactly how to do this best, but Jordan's descriptive passages just seemed clunky and distracting while writers like Wolfe, Bakker, Rothfuss or GGK all seem to flow naturally with descriptions and exposition and whatnot.
     
  10. ebusinesstutor

    ebusinesstutor Star Gawker

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Messages:
    298
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    53
    Forget about publishers. Write it in your own style - be the best "you" can be. Self publish it and market it and let readers decide.
     
  11. Kenneth2

    Kenneth2 Published Novelist

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My books are pretty fast paced as well. I don't describe insignificant stuff, just the important things.