How much is too much?

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Thread: How much is too much?

  1. #1
    Registered User PiccoloX83's Avatar
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    Default How much is too much?

    When your reading an epic story and getting involved with it how much is too much? The story needs to move forward, but when the story involves another world the writer needs to elaborate enough to paint a picture. Not only of the characters and main story, but of the world, its people and its history. How much do you need to know before you know too much and it turns from a fantasy into a documentary?

    Also, would knowing too much lessen the impact of horror and make it more of a fantasy or sci-fi?

    I've an idea of too much being akin to the show Bleach where they show you every insignificant detail of +15 main characters history regardless of how meaningless it is. "Filler" is one thing, but this shows more like a history lesson to give excuse to using generic anime memes.
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    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Well, you don't need three pages to describe a piece of grass, and you also don't need to know every race's complete history at the get go--you can gradually reveal those details as they become pertinent to the story
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    Wordsmith Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    This really is an art form. Different readers will want different depth in the story, different genres have different expectations ... in the context of Pokémon fanfic I'm of the opinion that unless your story deviates from its parent canon, then don't tell the reader what they'll already know. There are schools of thought that say you should, say, always describe a Pikachu at least once. I respect that, but I prefer to be told what makes the Pikachu different from any other. I don't need to know what the species in general looks like.

    The best character building is done when it's woven into the narrative. Incidental details that are nice to know but not essential to the story come out best as offhand comments during the narrative.
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    Registered User PiccoloX83's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    How do you describe another world through offhand comments? Wanting things to be similar enough to this world that the reader isn't left in the Land of Oz, but intionally different enough to show a seperate world development.
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    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Have it be a holiday or festival day--this way the characters can talk about the festivities and the rituals while simultaneously giving the audience info
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    Registered User PiccoloX83's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Characters aren't going to be in 1 place for long. Rituals and beliefs are viable, but a festival would be too upbeat. It's not like this is a horrible world, but for all the fantasy and Sci-Fi this story is meant to have inlaid horror aspects. The single most important character was designed after some of the things that scare me the most, physically and mentally.
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    Registered User Autofire's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Well, like the first lesson of the writing academy says, make it part of the action if you can. I think that's probably one of the best ways to do things if possible.

    Anyway, while this seems quite cheezy, would it work to just put a link to the Bulbapedia page/Bulbamedia image of the Pokemon for readers who don't know what that species looks like? The thing is that I don't want to be focusing on things which many readers already know, but at the same time I want to let readers new to the series to be able to visualize things...
    Note: The avatar is based off Spiral Knights, which is copyrighted by Three Rings.

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    Registered User PiccoloX83's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    This has nothing to do with pokemon. Just an original story I've been tinkering with. So far I've been focusing with screwing with the readers mind than conveying any lessons. The main character was inspired by the American Ju-On, The Grudge. More specifically, the seen where the ghost is in the bed. While I'm not using "ghosts" in my story I'd like to match that level of fear at some point.

    I have no writing education and hate to read (ADHD), but I've enjoyed human psychology and how it relates to animalistic behaviors. Been picking up tips here and there, so any info I can get is helpful. I've got the "big events" planned out, but should work on subtlety in between.
    Last edited by PiccoloX83; 17th January 2014 at 02:30 PM.
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    Steel Trainer LagunaX1's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    I think in a horror story the most important place for details isn't the history or background but the times when you want to make the reader feel disgusted or afraid. Like you said, focus on screwing with the mind. You really don't need to go very in depth on the world or location. Like describing the flora and fauna, or every tradition would be wasted pages. You can mention them in passing or briefly, but I find in writing it's best to leave a lot to the readers imagination. Although if a certain tradition or part of the world is very relevant to the story or setting up a 'moment' you'd want to be a bit more descriptive.

    When you want to get very descriptive is when you introduce a character or monster and in these mind fuck moments. Sometimes describing a room in minute detail can set up fear well, like describing claw shaped cracks in a wall or a curtain fluttering in the wind. It really depends on what you're trying to make the reader feel and think. If it's disgust then go to detail on the snot and flem dripping through the floorboards or something lol Or maybe 'The jawless apparition shuffled down the hallway towards me. It's lack of a bottom jaw revealed the peak of a pulsating esophagus that spewed blood and white puss down the front of it's rotting chest.'

    Well, that's my thoughts anyway. There's no one true way of writing, and it's a shame you hate to read as that's really a great way to learn more. I also recommend 'On Writing' by Stephen King, whether you like him or not it's a great book with lot's of good writing tips, maybe you'd be able to skim read it or something I dunno.

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    Registered User PiccoloX83's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Thanks for the tips. It's not that I really hate to read, I just rarely find anything worth investing time into reaching the end. I've read the first Ultima book, "Technocratic War" because at the time I was really into Ultima Online. Despite the book featuring a very different genera to the game I like how the character quarks were revealed and putting together what I knew of a DnD style medieval game to a Sci-Fi setting. Another book I read that I forget the name of has a moment I won't forget where a red dragon would shuffle uncomfortably because he had gotten into the habit of pacing the room in human form.

    I need to better define the characters role in the story. They were all designed after an emotional trait. Fear, deceit, complacency, loneliness, anger and pride. However, there are characters designed after hope, individuality and togetherness. While fear is the main character, she is followed closely by complacency. Lead by deceit and running from loneliness she is joined by pride and struggles against anger. She finds unexpected help from hope, takes reconcile in individuality and finds a father figure in togetherness.

    Fear, complacency and hope will eventually become one, resulting in chaos. Pride will beat anger, resulting in order. Without togetherness and individuality deceit will impart chaos with loneliness resulting in rage. Order will beat rage, then finish off deceit.

    Just an abstract thought at this point but I like the direction it's going in. As far as horror goes, I just want to put the reader in fears shoes. Complacency is there as a buffer to fear, but will eventually take over the story. Fear has a right to be afraid in the end.

    There will be death in the story, but I want it all to be meaningful. Fear doesn't want to hurt anybody, but it can't help imparting fear into others. Complacency dulls that fear and hope has a way of negating it despite being effected by fear the most. Togetherness shows fear she's not alone and she learns from individuality how to deal with loneliness.
    Last edited by PiccoloX83; 18th January 2014 at 02:07 PM.
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  11. #11
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    No exact answer for this question, IMO. Like someone said above, the pacing and walking the fine line between description and overkill is part of the art of good writing.

    Generally however, I do go by a rule of thumb: if what I'm writing positively affects the story in a necessary fashion, keep it; otherwise cut it.

    When describing that spooky abandoned warehouse your main character has entered, yes, the readers need some sort of description to help them get the idea that this place is scary. But after that is established, however much that takes, move on with the plot.

    I've read stories on this forum and elsewhere that are honestly distracting because of the amount of overkill. Great writing isn't determined by who can paint that most vivd and complete picture of everything going on... Great writing is about who can tell the story the best and captivate the reader.

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    Registered User PiccoloX83's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    This is a story insert from the RP listed in my signature. With this post the focus was more on what the characters are doing, not what they're saying. Since this is a collaborative story it had to be kept short, only saying what I needed to say. Is this post below saying too much or too little?

    Tsaikogen is a Smeargle and Wilda is a Dragonair. The General (Pepper) was a Noctowl and Darsabre was a Houndoom.

    ~The Soulseer~
    Denial, Isolation and Anger


    The days at Fort Vulture were always dry. With the heat and desolation the Fort rarely saw action. It was as if the desert itself stood still in time. Even the Pokemon adapted to the desert didn't want to do anything during the day time.

    Fort Vulture was always dry. The heat and desolation rarely saw action. Tsaikogen would spend most days napping. Others may have chosen to keep busy, either to remain sharp or to fight the madness of boredom.

    Fort Vulture always dry. Heat and desolation. The Generals stories would go on to anyone listening. Darsabre would perform various drills and activities to keep her skills sharp.

    Always dry. Heat and desolation. Darsabre would sleep on my lap, sometimes falling asleep when Pepper told us his stories. I knew the real her, the real him.

    Desolation. Darsabres asleep again. She's in the corner by herself. I can see Pepper telling someone off, but where's Wilda? Why isn't The General moving?

    Desolation...

    Tsaikogen awakens with a ragged yelp. His throat dry and head pounding. His stomache churned with nausea as he dripped with a cold sweat. Chilled winds blew in through the cave entrance, the only warmth coming from a nearby campfire. As he attempted to stand he immediately falls back, his muscles aching and burning. Clearing his throat he calls out to see if anyone was nearby.

    Having heard the calls Wilda glides in through the cave entrance. She rushes to Tsaikogens side and checks his eyes as he hazily tries to communicate with her. With a rasping breath Tsaikogen says "Water...". Wilda reaches for a wooden bowl nearby and holds it to Tsaikogens mouth, simultaneously supporting his head with the rest of her tail. Tsaikogen weakly holds the bowl closer with both hands, spilling more than he seems to drink. Sated, he drops the bowl and gasps for breath. He tries to move while still being supported by Wilda, but fails again. Looking to Wilda he asks "Where... What happened?" Wilda, acting somewhat confused by the question says "You don't remember?" She adjusts her body wait, leaning Tsaikogen more up write. "You've been out for several days. I was worried you were going to starve to death or something. Were too far from any civilization to find you some help." Tsaikogen, his eyes widening and more alert. "What happened? Where are the others? The Gen... Your Uncle, and Darsabre." Wilda, unable to find the words, didn't know how to answer Tsais question. There is a war going, she had list friends and family before and knew how to deal with it, but she still wasn't able to face others with such news.

    Having read Wildas gestures Tsaikogen push away, bracing himself against the cave wall to find his footing. Shaking his head in disbelief he call out "Darsabre! General!" He continues to call, making his way to the cave entrance, falling to his knees several times before reaching the mouth. The chilled wind bit like a snake, the ambiance he was accustom to hearing in the desert cut by the sound of a running stream nearby. The wind echoed as it passed through the crag.

    Wilda glides alongside Tsaikogen as he braces himself against the wall. Though she still didn't know how to tell Tsaikogen that they were gone she could tell by Tsaikogens expression that she no longer needed to. Looking to the running stream, Wilda says "It happened before you passed out. They were both badly injured, then you did something with your tail." She turns to face Tsaikogen. "Some kind of green light. Then you passed out." Tsaikogen, looking to the ground to collect his thaughts. His head still pounding he runs his hand through his hair. "It was... It was a Healing Wish. It should have worked..." Tsaikogen looks to Wilda angerly. It should have worked! Where are they?" Wilda, drifting away from Tsaikogen, avoiding eye contact as she speaks. "I buried them on the hill above us." Part frustrated, part scared, Tsaikogen shouts "What?!" He stammers out of the cave, falling to his knees again. Before Wilda could pick him up Tsaikogen reaches for a nearby bush and yanks off a dead branch. Using it as a crutch he staggers up a path leading upward before finding himself walled in by the steep, rocky side of the crag. Wilda was following from a short distance, warning Tsaikogen not to push himself. Seeing his failed attempt at climbing the wall Wilda wraps around Tsaikogen and manages to fly him to the top despite his protests.

    As Wilda sat him down Tsaikogen sees the graves. Without his crutch walking was arduous, but he makes it to the first grave before falling to the ground again. This time, however, the fall was by choice as Tsaikogen grabbed two rocks off the pile before stopping himself. Wilda had not moved from the side of the cliff, only able to watch as Tsaikogen copes with the reality of their situation.


    Tsaikogens anger changes from confusion to a tired sadness "But it should have worked..."
    IGN: Jraken
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    Ditto, Lillipup, Loudred

    RP Story: World Without Legends (ongoing)
    PS- I hope you like nightmares. >}
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  13. #13
    Should be writing birdboy2000's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    With fanfic, you should expect some level of prior knowledge from your readers - you should describe a Pikachu as much as you'd describe a mouse in an origfic, for instance. But how much physical description to incorporate is very much an art form - it can definitely be overdone and read as purple prose, or it can be a dull read that gives your reader too little to go on in the other direction. In fantasy, things like maps and appendices are common for that background info that couldn't make it in, and it's generally good to reveal things over the course of the story - although with enough at the start that the reader can still get a decent sense of the world. And the reader getting lost isn't always a bad thing, so long as they're not too lost - referencing a cultural aspect of another world or a portion of its history, or even jumping full-fledged into a ritual or holiday or something, without explaining everything about it, can keep people intrigued until they find out the details.

    As for knowledge with regard to horror... well, it depends on the type of horror. Some horror relies on surprise or last-minute twists, others on foreshadowing and the knowledge of impending doom.

  14. #14
    Requiem Raver Drakon's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    For me, I'm of the belief that things are better revealed in-story.

    For instance, a holiday can be dealt with by have one character explain it (not in great detail but just a condensed overview).

    In addition, I also believe that if you're spending more than six or so sentences describing a single thing, you're probably overdoing it.
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    Le Choléra Jabberwocky's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: How much is too much?

    With fantasy, worldbuilding is exceedingly important. Similarly important is avoiding infodumping. It's excusable from time to time, like a historian relating the story of an important in-universe historical event, but too much and the narrative becomes too dense. I tend to only reveal one or two notable things about anything at any given time. While the political history of one of my countries is very interesting (to me, at least), my readers would feel exhausted if I gave a complete account all at once.

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