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message 1: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments This is something I was wondering as I fully let go of my original idea of becoming a traditionally published author.

You're usually taught not to add anything that has no relevance to the plot. So, if you're hanging out at a billionaire's Christmas' party, it is supposed to be plot-related. If you comment that the waiters were serving delicacies that look like art pieces, it has to mean something, at least to tell your host acts like a billionaire.

But what if you're enjoying that billionaire party way too much? Your character will sample the good food and take note of the people around and chat with the elite guests and dance in this posh setting... with no other possible reason that they are enjoying themselves. Plot? Yes, I am at the party for a reason. First let me have some fun, and next I'll return to the plot.

I like to write like this. In trad publishing, I understand this will be edited off. You can't be adding words that do not further the plot, and they need to keep the costs low. But what about in independent publishing? The readers will enjoy the party as well, even if the plot is not advancing. It doesn't qualify as filler (I hope?). It doesn't clash with the story. I would think it's okay as long as it's not overdone. Or am I wrong?

What's your opinion on this? And your experience with the readers?


message 2: by Junkomi (new)

Junkomi Eno | 28 comments

To be honest, it is just subjective as to rather to add small things like that or not. Sometimes it can be helpful, sometimes it can be annoying. For a person like me, I don't like to read a book with five million pages of just non-sense detail of things that just serve no purpose at all. Of course, I also don't like it when there are so few details that it is impossible to get an idea of the scene. That is mainly why I like reading light novels over standard novels.


Really, I would say just do what feels right. Adding some detail can give a book life but adding too much can kill it. I would probably say that a paragraph of just "mindless" detail is find but if it is nothing but a whole page that might be a bit much.




message 3: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Skilton | 17 comments I'm a new author so I can't speak for my readership just yet, but I think it's perfectly fine to include descriptors and scenes that don't further the plot, especially in digital-only editions. I do want it related to the story, but I'm okay with rich descriptions and extra scenes as long as they don't detract from the story or turn readers off, and that's a hard call to make. I let myself write them and if I cut them, they just become part of the back story and help me to know my characters better. But I make that decision based on the needs of the story, not the economics of publishing. And I choose to be self-published.


message 4: by Lori-Ann (new)

Lori-Ann Claude | 76 comments Scenes like these can serve to develop character, especially if the character is passing judgment on everyone he meets during the party. But if there's no character development at the same time, it could be construed by superfluous details. Where such a scene is located can make a difference as well. At the start of a story, you want things to get going. But if the reader just had a huge high, sometimes a slower scene is needed.

As mentioned, it's subjective, there's no hard line in the sand. This is where one or more beta readers can help you.


message 5: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4310 comments Mod
I've run across the notion that everything should be plot related, too. I think this is a fairly modern concept as I don't recall hearing this when I first started to study writing and a lot of classic literature is certainly full of what today's editors might call "fluff".

I like to fully immerse my readers into my "world", which means I will allow anything that moves plot, reveals character, gives a deeper look at the setting, reveals culture, entertains, reveals theme, etc.

I don't really have experiences with readers. I don't really know who reads my work, aside from a few friends. All I can really go on is looking over the orders and KENP. Often times if I see activity on KENP, it jumps around a lot for a few days, indicating someone is devouring my book(s). Or, I will see a few pages read, then nothing. Once in a while I'll get a sale, then see it returned. Or I'll get a sale, followed by several later that day or the next. It's my guess that some people love my style and some people can't stomach it.

Now, me, personally? I like it and I'm the one I write for. So, *thumbs up*


message 6: by L.K. (last edited Jul 30, 2018 12:54AM) (new)

L.K. Chapman | 147 comments I've found that the more I write the more I get a sense for what works in my stories and what doesn't, and I'm developing my own style. Reading back through what you've written and highlighting bits you think are good, bits you absolutely love, as well as bits you don't like (or totally hate) could be helpful. You might find that reading it back you don't like the extra detail in your scenes, or you might feel that they have a lot to add to the story.

My writing style is fairly fast-paced, but of course some description and richer details are always going to be needed here and there. I really admire authors who manage to describe something in an incredible way that gives me a really strong sense of what a place or person looks like, or captures a strong emotion or feeling in a beautifully written way. However, I would probably get bored of paragraph after paragraph of details, or frustrated by action that turns out to have no relevance. That having been said, it depends a lot on the style of the book, the type of story. For example, I'd probably have different expectations for an atmospheric ghost story to a fast-paced thriller.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Adding a scene like that can help with character development. Every once in a while, the characters need to stop and smell the roses. At least, that's my opinion.


message 8: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 530 comments If the writing is good or entertaining, I think it is good to include slower passages which help with the atmosphere or the setting or character development or...

It would be strange to come across Literary Fiction that was pared to the bone.

On the other hand, some writers get carried away with the sound of their own 'voice' and the delete key should jump up and draw their attention. Mine does.


message 9: by M.L. (last edited Jul 30, 2018 10:14AM) (new)

M.L. | 1103 comments It depends how long the story is and when the 'chatter' takes place. If it is a really long story something needs to keep happening, what is on the page should relate to the story or build the character. Otherwise to me it becomes author indulgence and meaningless.


message 10: by Bolivar (new)

Bolivar Beato (bolivarbeato) | 4 comments In the book I'm currently writing, two supporting characters had to go undercover. To maintain their cover they had to take powerful narcotics. This is only mildly relevant to the plot and only mentioned in passing in a sentence. In the next chapter, the protagonists help them recover. Since it serves no relevance other than to say they needed to, their detox is also mentioned in one sentence.

I could have gone in to paragraph(s) long details into both situations to develop the supporting characters, but I felt that would have been forcing the reader to feel for them and I think it would have been received as an obvious waste of time.

That's really all you need to ask yourself. If there is even a chance you're wasting the reader's time, probably best not to bother.


message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert Edward | 42 comments Done right, I think this is a great way to control the pace of the story. If every page has an explosion (literal or otherwise) on it, the plot gets flat. It helps the reader catch a breath before the next moment of tension (and maybe lulls the reader, and the characters, into a false sense of calm, if that’s your aim).

As others have mentioned, it’s also a good way to potentially, subtly introduce plot elements or foreshadowing. Maybe the guy at the party has a hidden agenda (known only to the author but it informs an event later). Maybe it’s a chance to show that the main character is shrewd/impetuous/talkative/oblivious in a way that’s more effective than just writing, “Being a shrewd operator, he decided to...”


message 12: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4310 comments Mod
M.L. wrote: "Otherwise to me it becomes author indulgence and meaningless."

Everything I write is self-indulgent. Most of it is meaningless, too.

*chuckle*

I'm glad this topic came up, though. Scale of one to ten, my first novel was about a seven or eight when it came to plot importance. Second novel was about a two. Now, I'm working on something that is about a nine or ten, which is a strange animal for me to tame. Hoping to get some good hints and pointers here.


message 13: by Genevieve (new)

Genevieve Montcombroux | 66 comments Maybe it’s a chance to show that the main character is shrewd/impetuous/talkative/oblivious in a way that’s more effective than just writing, “Being a shrewd operator, he decided to...”

Yes, it is called "deep POV". Reading tastes have changed over the years. Novels from the 1950's start with long descriptions, today readers are in a hurry. The authors have to show, not tell. After a high intensity scene, a slower scene is welcome but it should involve the protagonist(s) in a meaningful way preferably impacting on the plot.


message 14: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4310 comments Mod
Maybe, but I don't like to think of "readers" as one generic breed. I like to think that every reader has their preference and every reader is looking for something new or different. Perhaps a majority of the readers today are in a hurry. I'd like to think there are still readers who want to get immersed in a book, who want to get to know the characters on a deeper level, who want to feel they're in the "world" of the story, and aren't in a rush for the plot.


message 15: by Genevieve (new)

Genevieve Montcombroux | 66 comments Fortunately, there are still readers that enjoy a leisurely walk through the world of an author, but judging by the books that make it to the top of the charts, they are in the minority. For an author it boils down to choosing who to write for: write for the market and so keep within those unwritten rules; or write what is dear to the writer's heart, and be damned the rules, for the few who will appreciate.


message 16: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments *big group hug to everyone* Thank you for all the interesting replies! I'm saving this page.
So most of you think it's okay if done in moderation. That's a great thing!


message 17: by Wanjiru (new)

Wanjiru Warama (wanjiruwarama) | 198 comments Sylvia wrote: "Adding a scene like that can help with character development. Every once in a while, the characters need to stop and smell the roses. At least, that's my opinion."

I agree.


message 18: by Elkin (new)

Elkin Hardcoves | 8 comments What I've been taught is that what you write should : deepen characterization, or deepen the plot. Two things, not just the one.
Deepening the character actually covers a lot of ground, and can include elements like Steven Kings use of two characters seeming to have a random conversation, such is in the Stand near the beginning where a group of men are all sitting around having a perfectly normal conversation, before Stu sees the car that ends up hitting the pumps. A lot of good descriptions can be inserted via characterization, while also allowing the reader to view the persona of the character viewing the objects or room or other people being described. If you wish I can add references to further support what I'm saying here, and give you sources to seek out.


message 19: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4310 comments Mod
Elkin wrote: " If you wish I can add references to further support what I'm saying here, and give you sources to seek out."

If you're talking about links, please don't. We have a rule against it. What you said is fine. We encourage our members to discuss things without referring to outside sources as, quite honestly, most of these conversations are based purely on opinion, anyway. We all have a preferred method of writing and as long as it brings each of us some level of satisfaction, it's the right way.


message 20: by Elkin (new)

Elkin Hardcoves | 8 comments Dwayne wrote: "Elkin wrote: " If you wish I can add references to further support what I'm saying here, and give you sources to seek out."

If you're talking about links, please don't. We have a rule against it. ..."


Note, I'm trying to respond to a specific comment, this is the first time I've done this, so it might not succeed. I'm actually still searching for the group rules, but thanks for pointing that out. I meant book titles, but shall totally leave off it given your comment.


message 21: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 694 comments Mod
As a reader: I agree with those that said it's about being in moderation or showing some subtle details about the setting and/or characters. Giving a moment of relief after higher-pace scene is nice as well.

Now, I've just recently started doing revision for my sixth draft of my to-be debut. I've cut much of the first five chapters and condensed the rest because I felt it too much "fluff" and made introducing the characters very slow while, as I realized, the impact on the characters was much lower than I thought. I originally planned to have the things that were at the beginning be a subtle background for showing how one of the characters made some choices but, eventually, the story gave me better tools for that and turned the longer beginning unnecessary. I've cut it, saved it to an extra file and decided to keep it aside should I decide to put it on my website (or somewhere) as an extra content or something.


message 22: by Nat (new)

Nat Kennedy | 317 comments Haru wrote: "This is something I was wondering as I fully let go of my original idea of becoming a traditionally published author.

You're usually taught not to add anything that has no relevance to the plot. S..."


In my opinion, if it doesn't support plot/character/world development, keep it limited.

Now, if it's really fun and you love it, go with it, but make sure it's fun to readers and not just something that's author fulfillment (does that make sense.) I wouldn't draw it out too much, but keep some of it if you love it that much.

In this case, you can probably support world and character in the scene. Make sure your scene has more value than 'it's just fun' and do character development or world development as well as having fun writing the scene.


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