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Thread: Padding

  1. #1
    Ryan Anthony
    Guest

    Padding

    I've noticed that some novels that I read contain a fair amount of padding. That is embellishments and backstories that while interesting have little to do with the actual plot of the book. Such as:

    Main Character A and Main Character B go eat a diner. [insert two-pages describing the history of the diner.]

    My question is. Is this acceptable?



  2. #2
    Ryan Anthony
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Go eat AT a diner. d'oh.

  3. #3
    Lisa Werth
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Apparently, since it was published.
    There are often locations, clothes, etc. that are described in detail. The author feels it's important to create a picture in the minds of the reader.
    Sometimes authors choose not to be so specific, I did that in writing some of the scenes in my story. I didn't feel what people looked like and where things occured wasn't as importnat as what happened.
    It depends on the driving force of one's plot.

  4. #4
    Donald Lowery
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Padding is counter-productive.

    For example, in one instant you had my mind picturing my version of Character B watching my version of a diner being eaten. B was a very large character with a very large mouth. There were small real people in the diner being eaten. They were being tossed around, they were screaming loud. I could even see what looked like a Budweiser Beer spilling and flying through the air inside the diner. The diner was originally next to a school house just a second before it was ripped up before the first big bite.

    You did all that by only changing one single solitary letter of one small word.

    The reader is overwhelmed by the writer's description of something they had rather visualize by themselves with very little help from anyone.

  5. #5
    Liz
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Donald...what interesting imagery... ;-)

    I'm with you. I hate long distracting descriptives that don't tie in in any way. Sure see a lot of them, though. A frustrated history teacher turned author, perhaps?

    L.

  6. #6
    Donald Lowery
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    People want to be entertained (preferably they want to laugh till they cry, then cry till they laugh the next minute or two).

    Those same people want to visualize what they can visualize, not what some damn purist wants them to visualize.

  7. #7
    Donald Lowery
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Oh! A purist is the one that blows on his sails when the wind stops. No connection with retired Navy men. :-))

    Cheers,

  8. #8
    Glen T. Brock
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Ryan,

    You've hit on one of my pet peeves. I believe the author is responsible for entertaining and provoking his audience. Usually this is done by plot manipulation ie;getting your pov not by setting or characterisation, but by developement of the plot.

    I suppose the demise of the short story is behind all this. When there were myriads of pulp magazines publishing short works the discipline of the short story concept kept story lines lean. Now, in the era of bloated best sellers, padding is not only acceptable, it is prefered. That does not make it good writing.

    I'm sure there are people who read 50 or 60,000 word novels after they've become 700 to 800 pages long. I'm sure they wear glasses after reading a few of these bloated monstrosities.

    ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENOSOVICH was one of Solzhenitsyn's most powerful novels. It was also one of his shortest. In A FAREWELL TO ARMS, Hemingway describes his protagonist being blown up while eating cheese. The description of this crucial episode did not take a hundred pages.

  9. #9
    Donald Lowery
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    I thought I felt a breeze.

  10. #10
    Clyde Finney
    Guest

    Re: Padding

    Someone wrote a cliche which I think is applicable here: "Opening trapdoors in the mind".

    This is a way of saying more by saying less.

    Clyde

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