main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Story summaries vs. writing out the whole durn thing

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Jedi_Perigrine, May 15, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Hi All,

    Did that title make sense? What I mean is, what are your thoughts on shortcuts rather than writing out, in detail, the whole section? Is it tacky to write a few paragraphs worth of omnipotent overview to summarize relatively mundane things occuring over large amounts of time? Or should I write it all out in dozens of pages with lots of detail?

    I.E.:

    Months passed like racing swoop bikes, zipping by at an unbelievable pace. Thanks in part to the children?s program that Plort recommended, ?Mrlssi Street?, Windy learned a great many things in an extremely short time. The program improved her language skills blah blah blah...

    vs.

    Windy learned the alphabet one letter at a time. The first letter was A, and it is used in a lot of words! She learned how to say the letter by itself, and all the different ways that A could be pronounced, like 'apple' verses 'Alderaan' blah blah blah...

    Currently I'm still working on another part to Preservation and I've got a 2+ page summary done, which covers about two years of story time. Writing the whole story would probably build my characters a little more, but I don't particularly feel like the readers would be missing out on the lives of the characters during the relatively boring period. I have included tidbits building character in the summary, but as a reader is that enough?

    Hope I made sense. heh If it doesn't, I'll try to edit it later. :)

    Thanks for your thoughts!
     
  2. CodyMonKenobi

    CodyMonKenobi Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 29, 2001
    To me it depends on the pace your are trying to set. Of course anything that you can do to help the reader visualize the setting is great but sometimes less is more. I hope that helps.
     
  3. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    I agree that it really depends.

    I think depending on the pace of the story, and how important something is determines if I just give an overview of something or if I give a bunch of detail. If it really isn't all that important to the plot of the story, you don't want to confuse or bore your readers because too much detail can get tedious. But if you feel like it is interesting and something you really want to tell, then go ahead and write it all out.

     
  4. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    One of my heroes, Neal Stephenson, spent a couple pages with very small type font describing how one of his characters eats Cap'n Crunch. It had absolutely nothing to do with the plot, but it's one of my favorite parts of the book because it's so damn funny.

    So I say, if there are specific things in that summary that really make each character stand out from the rest, go for the long description. You may not need gory details about the entire two-year period, but random character tidbits are golden. I like them, anyway. :p
     
  5. YodaKenobi

    YodaKenobi VIP star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    May 27, 2003
    If there's really nothing important happening? nothing pushing the plot forward, nothing important to the characters, and nothing you think will be interesting or entertaining? in that two year period, then I think summarizing them is the way to go.

    But JadeSolo makes a good point about relatively mundane things sometimes being a source of entertainment.

    Trust your instincts, I think. In general I think every scene should be geared in someway towards moving the story forward.
     
  6. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Thanks very much for your input, folks, I really appreciate it.

    JadeSolo's point is well taken. I've never been a hugely detailed guy. I do some details, enough to give you a general idea, but not super in depth. One day I'll have to force myself to write something down to the minutae. I still don't think I can make more than a page of someone eating cereal though :D

    YodaKenobi: Pushing the story forward is the aim right now. There are definitely some parts that could be lengthened out into a full blown story or segment, but since I can always go in and fill the details in later, I'll do some mid-story snippets.

    MavJade and CodyMonKenobi, thanks for your thoughts as well. I've always been a faster-paced writer so in one way I don't *want* to flesh it out, but I figure I probably should do it anyway. :)

    What finally decided me is that the events I'm portraying ARE happening and that's the focus... not HOW the events are playing out. HOW they happen can be a short story for later.

    Thanks again! :D
     
  7. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Even if a two year period could be relatively free of life-shattering events, there could also be some amusing little anecdotes that would be worth mentioning... you can write a sweeping summary, broken up with little things here and there.

    I'm not sure that made sense or not. [face_worried]
     
  8. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Hi Alexis,

    I thought about doing that, because there are a few things of note I could write out. I thought a combination of each sounded dumb in my head but maybe it's not. I'll try that! If I decide it doesn't fit in I can always stick with the summary and release it as a seperate adventure!

    Thanks! :D
     
  9. Space_Wolf

    Space_Wolf Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2007
    I would say that it's best to summerize. otherwise, you could end up with a story that doesn't seem to end. I had ideas for one of mine that would have kept extending the length of the story, but which didn't really add anything to it. Because of that, I just decided to let most of those ideas go so I could actually get somewhere with it.
     
  10. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    Heya Peregrine!

    I second more or less anything that has been said here. There's some smart folks around these parts :p

    To add my own opinion, I once read a little theory that went like this:

    A story is made up entirely of scenes. Each and every one of these scenes should have three purposes - To advance the story, to reveal vital character information, and to generate a setting that fortifies the first two things. Obviously, some scenes will have more of one than the other. Some scenes will advance the story more than they will develop the characters, others will concentrate mainly on character and advance the story only a little. I do agree, though, that you need to have all three things in each scene.

    So, if you're going to talk about a period of two years passing, the amount of detail to include about them depends on how much of those three things happen in those two years. Obviously the character develops, but does the story advance? Is the setting crucial to what's happening in the story? The way I'd handle it is to consider how important those two years are to the overall story and write details accordingly. If you can get away with writing "two years passed and *Character A* learned many things at the academy", or whatever, and no important details are left out then that's all you need to say.

    If you're going to detail every day of those two years, then you need to make sure that each scene advances the story and character in some way. Another of putting it, I suppose, is to ask at the end of each scene "what do I know now that I didn't know before?". If the answer is 'nothing' then I'm sure you can safely cut the scene entirely ;)

    Basically, just keep to the flow of the story. The pacing of the plot will dictate whether or not you can jump two years in the space of a sentence or whether you need a whole chapter, or a whole book. It's usually best to just go with what 'feels right'.
     
  11. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Hiya Wolf: Yeah I completely know what you mean. So far this story doesn't have an end in sight. That being said, if I ever get to the point when I think it should be over, I know HOW it's going to end.

    Luton_Plunder: Interesting theory! The characters develop a bit during those years, one character in particular. The story itself does not really go anywhere. So by your theory there, I should probably stick with Wolf and essentially summarize it.

    HOWEVER! Last night, I had a dream. And in this dream, little Trandoshan children held hands with little Wookiee--wait. <slaps self> Wrong dream. Instead of having the narrator summarize, I'll let my characters do it themselves when they find a little box of memories. Overdone? Possibly. But it works well in this case and will allow me to develop character while advancing the story a wee bit.

    I really appreciate everyone's suggestions! If y'all have more, hit me!
     
  12. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    I really appreciate everyone's suggestions! If y'all have more, hit me!

    *Hits you*

    Oops, you said if we have more to hit you... sorry, my bad. :p
     
  13. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    HEY! *Runs after Alexis threateningly with a tickle-stick* Come back here! [face_laugh] :p
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.