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September 16th, 2001, 09:47 AM
I have noticed with some disappointment that some fantasy books i have bought recently have started off very well, full of action and suspense and the promise of an interesting tale.
Only to find after the first chapter it dwindles of into flat, boring description of character hystory, lives, religion etc.

Some of the books were written by well known authors too.

Why do authors insist on filling up their novels with, what i consider, needless information. It really does put me off the storyline when i get lost in the mountain of unnessary detail.

I thought fantasy stories where about dragons, magic, interesting and unusual people and creatures.
Not full of people's childhood, first loves, marriages, affairs, making their fortunes etc.

I know this may seem like a long drawn out moan and your probably right. But i am getting fed up of throwing money away on books that just arent interesting.

Is there anyone else out there that would prefer reduced versions of fantasy stories, I bet most books could be cut in half if they didnt include all the blathering.


[This message has been edited by rune (edited September 16, 2001).]

September 16th, 2001, 10:49 AM
I thought fantasy stories where about dragons, magic, interesting and unusual people and creatures.
Not full of people's childhood, first loves, marriages, affairs, making their fortunes etc.

I think both are needed, to make the story come to life. But, as I usually say, everything is about BALANCE, and writing is not different, of course. So, I like to be given information about characters and setting, but not too much that chokes the story.
E.g.: Jordan fills whole chapter with useless staff, that do not advance the story. Martin, while giving us enought information, advances the story; so does Steven Erikson.
So. Give enought information for the reader to know "where s/he is" and "who is s/he meeting" (=characters http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif), but not too much, for then you'll "choke" the story.
Actually, there is no advice how to do that, but --very generaly-- if you, e.g., describe the common room of an inn in two pages, it's too much, IMHO.

[This message has been edited by Bardos (edited September 16, 2001).]

September 16th, 2001, 12:27 PM
I think there is a real skill to imparting background charcter information AS the story moves forward (not inbetween). I agree, Martin has this. Sammie.

September 17th, 2001, 01:52 AM
First off I agree - a lot of fantasy today seems to literally 'loose the plot' after the first book in a series. Why?

Here's my theory. Feel free to disagree.

There tends to be a modern perception that good literature is about characters and that plot, setting and theme are secondary. Look at the literary shelves in the local bookstore. How many plot-driven books can you find? A certain essay by Tolkien even bemoans Shakespeare's character-driven plays as an overpowering influence on English literature. Too much character, too little plot.

Now fantasy is a genre with its prejudices. It is seen as low-brow and as juvinile by the literati. I suspect that many fantasy writers struggle to move their literature into the high-brow / adult world by exploring human issues, emotions and internal conflict. All well and good but how much is too much? Basically personal preference. And if you'd like to see more of adventure, enchantment and plot in fantasy stories? I suppose we'll have to write one or two of our own.

September 17th, 2001, 03:25 AM
The thing you must realize is that some readers like those long descriptions of character, hystory, lives, religion, etc.

I am one of them. Of course some books have too much, but I do not count Robert Jordan among them. Personally I love Robert Jordan's writing style, as do many, many others.

Again this comes to consumer preferences. Some readers like the fast pace stories, some like the long in depth stories. If you don't like the story, don't buy another book by that particular author and find an author you do like.

September 17th, 2001, 04:40 PM
For me persoanlly, the pace can make or break a book. I have read some books that had both good characters and an interesting plot, but the pace kept it from being one of my favorites. Jordan is one of them. I like his story, I like to read about his characters, but I don't like to read about his (in my opinion) overly abundant subplots and often times, description that feels rather pointless. But at the same time, I hate it when books have little to no backround on characters, making the book seem rather 2-d.

For me, I need a good balance for the book to be considered great. Basically.....too fast or too slow can make a good story merely mediocre.