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Sargentodiaz
06-25-2008, 07:28 PM
“The sun had gone so low that haze turned its disk golden-orange. A broken road of brightness ran from it over the wavelets, casting glitter to either side. They were purple in the distance, tawny closer to hand. Here and there, swayed dark patches, native thalassophyte; but overhead, in heights still blue, shone the wings of three gulls.”

I encountered this in a SciFi novel, a genre I’ve not read for some time. It blew me away, making me wonder if I have the skills to paint a picture with words like that. I could close my eyes and SEE the scene.

The problem for me is, that by the end of the first chapter, I still am not sure of who and what it is about.

Anyone care to guess who the author is and which of his many books it came from?

Puma
06-26-2008, 01:20 AM
I'm not going to venture a guess on who wrote it, but I suspect that even from that short snippet I can understand why you're not sure who and what it's about.

This is conveying a picture but, it could be written so much more clearly (and it even has a grammatical). Puma

Kalyke
06-26-2008, 03:43 AM
Anyone care to guess who the author is and which of his many books it came from?

The Fleet of Stars by Poul Anderson

Did I win a prize?

Strangely, Gulls are the namers of Quarks too if you know the story

Kalyke
06-26-2008, 03:46 AM
My google-fu is excellent

Sargentodiaz
06-26-2008, 07:55 PM
Well, the suspense didn't last very long!!!!
I ended up putting the book aside because it's so convoluted I can't get ahold of the who, what and why.
Amazing how such a big-time author can get away with that.

Lady Cat
06-26-2008, 08:30 PM
I bow to your superior google-fu, User Her Name! :Hail:

Kalyke
06-26-2008, 08:51 PM
Poul Anderson is a major genius SF Writer though. On Amazon in the reader reviews, it is said "to drag." It is also more philosophic than hard line techno SF. It is also the last of a 4 book series about an entire galaxy or something, so I guess you should start at the first book. Oh, it is also some sort of mystery story that goes through the 4 books. I guess you started at the 4th book so you are not in on all the stuff that came before, I guess that is why you would think it was convoluted.

Write4U2
06-26-2008, 08:59 PM
Poul Anderson is a major genius SF Writer though. On Amazon in the reader reviews, it is said "to drag." It is also more philosophic than hard line techno SF. It is also the last of a 4 book series about an entire galaxy or something, so I guess you should start at the first book. Oh, it is also some sort of mystery story that goes through the 4 books. I guess you started at the 4th book so you are not in on all the stuff that came before, I guess that is why you would think it was convoluted.

If you have to start at the first book to get a grip on who, what etc., then the writer doesn't do a good job with the characters or the story. It should stand alone for the reader.

The imagery is too...too. I love imagery like that, but this one is just a jumble of words. A little of that kind of "picturization" goes a long way.

Mr. Anonymous
06-26-2008, 10:16 PM
If you have to start at the first book to get a grip on who, what etc., then the writer doesn't do a good job with the characters or the story. It should stand alone for the reader.
I have to say that I disagree here. A series is essentially (to me at least), one story broken up into several parts. It makes absolutely no sense to start at the end and expect to understand everything. That would be like reading the last chapter of a regular book, scratching your head, and saying, "Blah, I don't get it."

Taking a series I'm sure everyone has read... Harry Potter. Do you really think you'd understand everything if you only read the seventh book? I sure as hell wouldn't.

It just doesn't work that way. A series builds on what has come before. Events and details of past books come into play in future ones. It would not make sense to rehash/restate everything for those who happen to be late to the party.

Toothpaste
06-27-2008, 12:27 AM
True, but you will notice in the earlier books how JK goes over certain plot points, will explain what Hogwarts is, who the friends are over again, even who Voldemort is, in each new book. As the series became world famous it wasn't as necessary to do that, and once you reach book five you really have to know the series to understand everything.

The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton did the same thing. For people who have read earlier books it can get a bit annoying, but it's only a paragraph or two and then the story gets on track. I think it is a mark of a respectful author to take their audience into consideration that way.

Danger Jane
06-27-2008, 12:45 AM
True, but you will notice in the earlier books how JK goes over certain plot points, will explain what Hogwarts is, who the friends are over again, even who Voldemort is, in each new book. As the series became world famous it wasn't as necessary to do that, and once you reach book five you really have to know the series to understand everything.

The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton did the same thing. For people who have read earlier books it can get a bit annoying, but it's only a paragraph or two and then the story gets on track. I think it is a mark of a respectful author to take their audience into consideration that way.

Definitely. I can see where it might get tough to recap in a paragraph or two in a complex series, though, and while I don't mind that, it does get annoying when an author uses the entire first chapter--or more--to recap. Makes it a major struggle to finish what was an exciting series.

Toothpaste
06-27-2008, 12:59 AM
The best authors do the recap the same way as any other exposition, dotted throughout the piece, not just all dumped into chapter one. I agree, a whole chapter devoted to "last week on the West Wing" is really annoying.

Danger Jane
06-27-2008, 02:13 AM
The best authors do the recap the same way as any other exposition, dotted throughout the piece, not just all dumped into chapter one. I agree, a whole chapter devoted to "last week on the West Wing" is really annoying.

The most annoying thing I have found about these massive recap infodumps is that they're often in series published by huge houses, like Random House, and the series is often one that had no real infodumping problems in earlier books. I guess I'm saying I wish editors were a little harder on their big-selling authors to keep a series, or a trilogy, or whatever, a bit more consistent?

../pointless accidental derail

melodychef
06-27-2008, 02:20 AM
lvcabbie: The word picture snippet you showed us would turn me off too. I actually don't like much description in most stories. When I come to a lengthy paragraph describing the drapes, I tend to scan and then skip.

Of course, in my own writing, describing scenery is my weakness. I really have to struggle to give my reader a good sense of space.

Quossum
06-27-2008, 07:57 PM
I remember skipping all the descriptive paragraphs in Watership Down the first time I read it. The next time, as an adult, I read them, and they did add to the picture of the setting in my head, but I didn't really lose much from skipping them that first time. It was just extra "pretty stuff."

--Q

Karen Duvall
06-29-2008, 09:18 PM
Description can be important, especially when filtered through a viewpoint character. Then it's doing two things at once: setting the scene, developing character. If it's an omniscient perspective, like the example here, it doesn't do much for me.

I'm an artist in my day job, so visual description appears a lot in my writing. It's how I perceive the world of my story. I think it works, though. And I'm careful not to get so heavy handed that it detracts from the narrative.