Author Topic: No Just No  (Read 525 times)

idontknowyet

No Just No
« on: September 05, 2020, 02:25:40 AM »
Is this a new trend or did good authors all decide to start their books of with 10 pages of the main character telling the audience their life's history in the most boring way possible?

Seriously I've deleted four books in the last two days, because they started their books off with an expository essay.

Has the world gone crazy? Is this a new trend in contemporary romance?

What are a few things that make you DNF a book?
 
The following users thanked this post: R. C., JRTomlin

TimothyEllis

  • Forum Owner
  • Administrator
  • Trilogy unlocked
  • ******
  • Posts: 3974
  • Thanked: 1457 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Earth Galaxy core, Dec. 2617
    • The Hunter Imperium Universe
Re: No Just No
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2020, 02:33:39 AM »
The question comes up a lot on Quora.

People asking how to start their books. I tell them to drop into the action.

But LitRPG and fantasy writers often think they have to do all the world building and history up front, in case the reader doesn't know what's going on.

I didn't know romance had the issue though.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



Timothy Ellis Kindle Author page. | Join the Hunter Legacy mailing list | The Hunter Legacy series on Facebook. | Forum Promo Page.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

JRTomlin

Re: No Just No
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2020, 05:42:13 AM »
I've run into it a few times lately. Definitely a DNF for me.

ETA: Yes, the world has gone crazy. I have no doubt of it.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

Wonder

Re: No Just No
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2020, 07:20:51 AM »
I've been running into that problem when reading science fiction lately. And I'm a good sport, for the most part; I'm willing to wait a few chapters before the story gets cooking, and I don't mind a spot of introspection. But if I've gotten to chapter five and I still have no idea what the story is about because I'm reading a character diary, I'll DNF. What surprises me lately is that some of the bigger name authors are doing this too. I had to DNF Elizabeth Bear's Ancestral Night because it read like an extremely slow diary.

Oh well! :)  Plenty of folks liked that book, but it just wasn't to my taste. I like things a bit more action-y.

Wonder
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

― W.B. Yeats
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

Anarchist

Re: No Just No
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2020, 09:01:35 AM »
I prefer books that start cinematically, like the beginning of World War Z...




"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a basic human right.

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet, Sailor Stone

JRTomlin

Re: No Just No
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2020, 10:59:25 AM »
I've been running into that problem when reading science fiction lately. And I'm a good sport, for the most part; I'm willing to wait a few chapters before the story gets cooking, and I don't mind a spot of introspection. But if I've gotten to chapter five and I still have no idea what the story is about because I'm reading a character diary, I'll DNF. What surprises me lately is that some of the bigger name authors are doing this too. I had to DNF Elizabeth Bear's Ancestral Night because it read like an extremely slow diary.

Oh well! :)  Plenty of folks liked that book, but it just wasn't to my taste. I like things a bit more action-y.

Wonder
You used to see that kind of thing and know it was a newbie author. You'd expect better from Bear.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

LilyBLily

Re: No Just No
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2020, 11:36:08 AM »
I've been running into that problem when reading science fiction lately. And I'm a good sport, for the most part; I'm willing to wait a few chapters before the story gets cooking, and I don't mind a spot of introspection. But if I've gotten to chapter five and I still have no idea what the story is about because I'm reading a character diary, I'll DNF. What surprises me lately is that some of the bigger name authors are doing this too. I had to DNF Elizabeth Bear's Ancestral Night because it read like an extremely slow diary.

Oh well! :)  Plenty of folks liked that book, but it just wasn't to my taste. I like things a bit more action-y.

Wonder
You used to see that kind of thing and know it was a newbie author. You'd expect better from Bear.

I've seen it in authors with a long track record; clearly the editors didn't dare tell them to rewrite it--perhaps rightfully assuming that their fans would not care.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

JRTomlin

Re: No Just No
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2020, 11:39:57 AM »
By the way, I absolutely agree about that particular novel. It is simply dreadful and I have enjoyed a couple of her novels previously. Not sure if that makes me a 'fan' or not, but I definitely did care.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

j tanner

Re: No Just No
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2020, 02:53:06 PM »
I prefer books that start cinematically, like the beginning of World War Z...

Good stuff. Rewatching that reminded me of the similar gut-punch opening of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet, Anarchist

Jeff Tanyard

Re: No Just No
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2020, 06:24:28 PM »
I prefer books that start cinematically, like the beginning of World War Z...

Good stuff. Rewatching that reminded me of the similar gut-punch opening of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake.


I'll toss in the opening scene of Excalibur.  Night battle, fires and torches, smoke and fog, horses' breath, Wagner's music in the background, the clang of steel, and the cries of fighting men.  Best part is Merlin emerging from the smoke in his raggedy robe like some sort of grim reaper.

Of course, there is a very brief infodump prior to the title screen.  But it's more like a blurb tagline, and it's synced with the music, so it actually adds to the atmosphere rather than detract from it.


« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 06:26:42 PM by Jeff Tanyard »
v  v  v  v  v    Short Stories    v  v  v  v  v    vv FREE! vv
     
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy (some day) | Author Website
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet, Anarchist

Hopscotch

Re: No Just No
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2020, 11:33:39 PM »
Best advice I ever got was to open a story by chasing your hero up a tree and throwing rocks at him/her.  Then get on w/the action.  Seems to me that ought to work in any genre, relatively speaking.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet, JRTomlin

LilyBLily

Re: No Just No
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2020, 01:06:20 AM »
My latest opens at a funeral. Depending on your age, that can strike terror into your heart.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

JRTomlin

Re: No Just No
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2020, 01:21:54 AM »
There is quite a bit of space between 'start with three chapters of irrelevant backstory' and 'start with lots of blood and guts of people no one knows or cares about'.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet, Wonder

TimothyEllis

  • Forum Owner
  • Administrator
  • Trilogy unlocked
  • ******
  • Posts: 3974
  • Thanked: 1457 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Earth Galaxy core, Dec. 2617
    • The Hunter Imperium Universe
Re: No Just No
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2020, 01:35:47 AM »
There is quite a bit of space between 'start with three chapters of irrelevant backstory' and 'start with lots of blood and guts of people no one knows or cares about'.

The whole point is to make them care in spite of themselves in those 3 chapters.

If they get to the end of chapter 3 and don't care, then you failed as badly as 3 chapters of backstory.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



Timothy Ellis Kindle Author page. | Join the Hunter Legacy mailing list | The Hunter Legacy series on Facebook. | Forum Promo Page.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

JRTomlin

Re: No Just No
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2020, 02:36:55 AM »
"Irrelevant" was the keyword. I have no objection to backstory, although I generally prefer not to dump it in the first 3 chapters, but if it is irrelevant then it isn't going to make anyone care.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

notthatamanda

Re: No Just No
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2020, 02:40:54 AM »
There's lots of different options.

Started one book when my characters met as children for the prologue and jumped into the "real" story as chapter 1.  Think Greatest Showman.

Most of my books work in back story along the way, as characters ponder on something and it reminds them of something in their past for example.

I remember rushing through "The Plains of Passage" because I couldn't wait for them to get there and meet Jondalar's people. The book wasn't about that at all, but I wasn't the only one who felt that way. Reader expectations factor in but you can't make everyone happy.

 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

elleoco

Re: No Just No
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2020, 10:25:53 AM »
A lot of us aren't going to give anyone 3 chapters. For me it's about 3 pages.

Hopscotch

Re: No Just No
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2020, 01:35:02 PM »
A lot of us aren't going to give anyone 3 chapters. For me it's about 3 pages.

That's generous!  For me it's the first line.  If I like it, the first para.  If that flies, the first page.  If the writing holds me that far, I'll buy the book.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

Luke Everhart

  • Medium Novel unlocked
  • ***
  • Posts: 744
  • Thanked: 324 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Energizer bunny arrested: charged with battery. 😔
Re: No Just No
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2020, 01:54:40 AM »
A lot of us aren't going to give anyone 3 chapters. For me it's about 3 pages.

That's generous!  For me it's the first line.  If I like it, the first para.  If that flies, the first page.  If the writing holds me that far, I'll buy the book.

For me it's the storytelling not the writing, per se; so, unless an opening paragraph is some mangled, incoherent mess I've never made a judgement that early.
I've been hooked by the first page, but I never hold a book to that expectation. The first chapter is my cut point, though most of the books that turn out to be really great have hooked me in the first few pages.
Urban Fantasy Author
Magic & Mirth meets Action & Attitude
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

Indiecognito

Re: No Just No
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2020, 02:28:56 AM »
I tend to write my first chapter, realize later it's too much exposition and cut it or turn it into a sentence or two. I'm getting better at in media res.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

ingobernable

Re: No Just No
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2020, 03:12:38 AM »
I actually switched from very action-y beginnings to more boring ones because my readers seem to prefer it. I still can't do full boring, but semi-boring works too.  :shrug
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

cecilia_writer

Re: No Just No
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2020, 05:04:30 AM »
I think one of very few occasions when I've given up on a novel on the first page was when I started what seemed to be a kind of standard historical romance and the heroine suddenly teleported herself from her family's town house to their country house to bring back a book she'd forgotten. There was no hint of the paranormal in the blurb, the title, the category, anything.
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet