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  1. #1
    Author of Iron Bloom glutton's Avatar
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    Description and pacing in fantasy

    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. #2
    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. #3
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    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. #4
    Author of Iron Bloom glutton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    It seems to me that you're talking about secondary world pre-industrial fantasy works rather than fantasy fiction itself
    Yeah, that's what I'm referring to as opposed to urban fantasy etc.

  5. #5
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    And did you feel that the noir suspense/dark fantasy secondary world series were not sufficiently descriptionless? Who have you read of them?

  6. #6
    Author of Iron Bloom glutton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    And did you feel that the noir suspense/dark fantasy secondary world series were not sufficiently descriptionless? Who have you read of them?
    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. #7
    Cthulhu's Red Bucket Lucas Thorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glutton View Post
    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?
    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. #8
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    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. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinner View Post
    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.
    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. #10
    Star Gawker ebusinesstutor's Avatar
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    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. #11
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    My books are pretty fast paced as well. I don't describe insignificant stuff, just the important things.

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