I absolutely agree, our generation - specifically, millennials - LOVES dense narratives. I think, because we have so many forms of media vying for our attention, we're more interested in hearing the actual story and going on the journey; we've learned that character development is part of the storytelling process. As discussed earlier, the use of blank slate characters is also becoming more common, allowing us to "become" the protagonist, further investing us in the plot rather than narration.
Does millenials mean people born after 2000?
CAUSE THAT MAKES ME FEEL OLD.
All bomb points (as always, coming from Chris Fox), but the point about “blank slate characters” makes me SO SAD. All of the best stories (in my opinion) are character driven—hence why Edith Wharton is my author hero and psychological realism is my favorite fiction genre. Of course I love a good, compelling, exciting story (uhhhh hello, HP), but I equally as much (maybe more) love great characters!
^Lawlypop that was so jankily written my b. I’ve been out of college for a couple weeks now and I’m getting dumber by the minute.
I think there's still definitely a market for atmospheric and character-driven novels, but plot-heaviness is definitely an interesting issue. Some of it just has to do with how much has been done before, and how often. 'The butler did it' was a pretty shocking turn for a domestic mystery pre-Agatha Christie, for example. We have to find new ways of saying things, and sometimes that brings about more complex--or even convoluted--stories.
I don't think it's the storytelling or character development. I think it's more that they don't want endless descriptions of things that don't really add to the story. I want a good story teller that develops plot and character without putting in pointless, needless details. I love Tolkien and Austin, but I love Bujold and Brust much more - for their characters and ability to tell a good story.
Well that’s very right. Tolkien… omg. Whenever people ask me if LOTR are fun to read, I say, “Yeah, they’re epic, but you have to accept the fact that every time the Fellowship walks past a rock, you get a 100 page history of why it’s there.”
But LOTR is still epic.
I consider myself a cinematic writer, but I find that I have the opposite problem. I don't so much gloss over details as I do give too many details because the picture is so clear in my head, and instead of letting the reader create their own picture, I try to force them to see what I'm seeing. It's a fine line to straddle between giving too much detail and not enough.
Very good point, and very true.
I will say though that too much is probably better than too little—my professors would always say “WRITE EVERYTHING” because it’s easier to edit things out later than to have to fill in holes.
It goes to be said, the "cinematic" novel is a new form of narrative construction, we're going to see more of it because it works really well. Old novels elaborate, sometimes pointlessly (think of any Brontë novel - no offense, but they're droning). Modern culture wants more fluidity in narratives. This new model, as said, glosses over a lot; this thereby leaves more emphasis on the reader to imagine, and thus completely fits into the "show don't tell" model we've all heard a zillion times.
But do you think it’s also that our generation is far more attracted to plot-heavy stories, and are less entertained by storytelling or character development?
I don’t think glossing necessarily means you get to imagine more. Usually when things are left to the imagination, they’re at least implied so that you can be lead in some direction. That’s the “showing not telling”.
Great stories have been written from plans, and also from just writing without one. It does not matter which you do as long as it feels right to you. You have to find your process and use it, if that means trying many then that is what you have to do. There is no correct way to write so just keep doing what you are doing, because as far as I am concerned if it feels good then that's success <3
RE: Plot. I say to just go for it. Plots weigh down an author's creativity and the freshness of the characters, I think. It's important to have a grand idea to go off of before starting to write a long story, but I believe the true voice of an author emerges when he/she lets go of rules. The imagination runs wild and beautiful things happen. Let the story evolve, let the characters build the world, let your natural imagination do the work. You might be surprised at what happens.
That’s a good point. I also try to think more about what overall themes I want to convey than the plot. It’s just difficult sometimes for continuity’s sake. For example, most of the plot points I’ve been chewing on for the past few weeks have been in regards to my novel’s backstory.
For marktswimmer's question: For me personally, I am a really detail oriented person. I find it most helpful if I have the major points mapped out, then figure out the small bits as I go. As writers, our abilities are constantly changing--in six months or so, we might not find certain information relevant anymore or might find something new that works even better. It's all about the journey for me and having a basic idea of where I'm going.
@marktswimmer: I think it matters quite a bit what kind of person you are. If you know or feel that planning out a story meticulously will deter you from it and make you bored of it, I'd jump right in. If you know you will get lost/confused/frustrated with a story just by going in cold, then plan it out. Personally, I like to just start a story and see where it takes me, but I also have fun planning it too! So there is also an in-between... just find what works for you!
I don't know if it really matters to plan out a story or not beforehand. I've done it different ways-- I've written stories where I had every scene planned out, or where I had nothing planned out and just went with it, or where I only had the ending planned. In the end, I always ended up going back and editing whatever I felt didn't work. So I think it doesn't matter so much the planning stages, because you can edit it anyway. I usually spend much more time editing than actually writing.
For me I find that the best way is to have a really good idea and a general understanding of where you want the idea to go. This could be plot-wise or ending-wise. Recently for me, the ending of a story I just wrote could have gone 3 different ways, but had the same overall feel to the ending. Meanwhile the plot was a mess. Does that help?
do you think it's better to plan out long, complicated stories in a lot of detail, or to just have a general idea in your head and dive right into actually writing it?
You know, I think about this question a lot. I was just thinking about it about ten minutes ago actually, because I’ve had this idea in my head for a novel for, I don’t know, maybe 6 months now, and I’m always thinking of more plot points. Or just working them out.
What I find works for me (and again, this is just me) is knowing how a story is going to end. Then the writing process is all about moving the action and your characters to that point, but what’s in between the beginning and the end is the part that you can “dive right into”. I love seeing where a story will take me while I’m writing, because a lot of times it goes places that I don’t expect. But if you know the ending, you won’t end up going way off on some big tangent and hitting a dead end and being like “wait, this sucks”. So it’s sort of the best of both worlds, for me.
If anyone else wants to chime in, send an ask!