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Training sequences.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Endymion, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Endymion

    Endymion Troubadour

    I have three or four chapters in my book where my MC is training and gets to know some other relevant (and not so important) characters, which is mainly the point of those scenes.
    It lets the reader get to know some of the characters personalities a bit better and in some cases,
    their specialities in the art of fighting/killing.
    The last reason is of course to show the reader that the MC is is evolving in whatever he is doing and also that
    he didn't become good at what he does in a blink of an eye.
    It is also the only way to put some action into the story which has been pretty calm for about 6 chapters ( at this moment the story is about 25 chapters long ).
    The problem is that it might get a bit repetitive for some readers and it doesn't really move the story forward.
    So, what should I do? Should I remove some of them? Should I try to make them more relevant somehow?
    The most important question is, do you enjoy training sequences?
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  2. The Din

    The Din Troubadour

    Ten chapters and training is (one of) the most exciting thing happening? You've probably lost me there as a reader. The only time training should be included is when it introduces conflict or a distinct challenge, imo. Unless its quiddich practice, no one wants to read pages and page of repetition and slow progression; there's a reason for the good old montage.

    So I guess no, I don't enjoy training sequences for the sake of the training.
    Endymion likes this.
  3. coolstoneman

    coolstoneman Scribe

    Well, it sounds like you might have too many training sequences. I think if you kept them down to 2 or 3, it might work ok. You definitely need to make sure the story flows. If you are sensing a slowdown in action, the reader will definitely feel it. You may need to trim down some of the chapters. I could see a beginning training scene, showing his inexperience, maybe one middle one, and one later when he has essentially mastered it.

    10 chapters of calm? I think you need to find some conflict somehow, somewhere. It could be personality conflicts, or whatever. Good luck!
  4. Endymion

    Endymion Troubadour

    Damn, thought it was a bit to much. Technically, if I combine those training chapters together it will be one medium sized chapter (they were much shorter than the regular chapters). Thanks.
  5. Endymion

    Endymion Troubadour

    There are personality conflicts (didn't count that as action). The idea of those calm chapters was to introduce new characters and develop them. Yeah, the second "part" started pretty slow. Will be working on that.
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    If the scenes don't move the story forward they should be cut. This is a hard fast rule if you want to keep your reader's attention. Writing something to introduce characters will feel contrived.
  7. Ok, I've been doing the same thing for all the reasons you've stated, though perhaps in fewer chapters which, like the others, I would recommend. You mentioned character development which can greatly improve any scene in my view as a reader. I gave my protag a sparring partner as well as a mentor for his training scenes, which allowed me to develop a kind of friendly rivalry between them, as well as the possibility of future romantic interest.

    To repeat what others have said, try to keep the training sequences as un-repetative as you can. Show him training his mind as much as his body, maybe he ends up talking to his mentor in the process about killing or something? Maybe make it so the training is one of the few oppertunities he gets to spend time with one of the characters? If done well then that could mean the readers might look forward to it as well.

    If you feel the story is lagging and you've gone ten chapters with little actual action, thats not good. Personally I try to not have any more than 3 or 4 passive chapters in a row, and its still an effort to write, because passive chapters require very subtle working. See if you can work some of the sublots in. Maybe he finds a letter to one of his friends, and isn't sure how to interperet it? Does he bump into a familiar face in a crowded market? Hear a scream coming from beneath the town streets? Get seduced by an elf :D?

    Hope I was some help anyway.
  8. Kit

    Kit Maester

    Okay, that struck my funny bone for some reason. Note to self: "If narrative begins to drag, have somebody get seduced by a random elf."

  9. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Like in real life, learning something new is fun, repeating it over, and over is boring.

    Break training up if you can. Again, like in real life, if you focus on it too long, it gets boring.

    Training is a good way to educate your reader as much as your character, but in small doses.

    Think of someone writing about modern day school, they don't go through the classes all day. They hit the interesting classes,
    have some secondary event happen while at school, or make school secondary to the action.

    Don't lock yourself into endless training, most students find something to take their minds off of learning when they aren't in class.
  10. topazfire

    topazfire Minstrel

    I am reading Kristen Britain's Green Rider series and I think she writes training sessions really well. Each one advances the story further, sometimes by getting interrupted by something important, or there is a crutial interraction between two or more characters (sometimes including a romantic interest). There is also a very good reason for the MC to be training in the first place, which I think is often overlooked by some authors.

    You are right to want to show progression in the character's skill as it is very frustrating to read about a farm hand who is suddenly a swordmaster.

    Just like what others have said, keep the training sessions, but make sure that each one shows progression as well as some action (physical or otherwise) with the characters involved. Good luck!
  11. If those four chapters cover a span of time in which the character is training, but other (more interesting) things happen in that time, there's nothing wrong with that. (Keep in mind that 90% of Harry Potter chapters take place during school, but even during those chapters, for the most part we're seeing other adventures, not classroom time.)

    But if you're demonstrating all the ways they're learning for four chapters... that's almost certain to be boring.
  12. You'll know if a seductive elf comes along in my story that I'm running out of ideas :D.
  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    I'd apply the rule of three here:

    First somewhat detailed training session, the character 'falls flat' or fails miserably.

    Second somewhat detailed training session, he does better, but still has some flaws that need working out.

    The last one, he aces it.

    And - Keep them short.

    Cut all the others except for occasional references in conversation: "Did you see what happened to Fred?" "Oh man, I don't think I'll ever walk right again after that workout." that sort of thing.
  14. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    Another suggestion might be to intersperse the training into the story a little if it's feeling like two separate things. For example:

    MC is walking through the streets, fetching a sword ordered by his master/ buying a gift for a friend when a thief snatches someone's purse and MC is knocked to the ground/ doesn't have a weapon, or has one and fails to draw it, opening your scene up to personal reflection a few lines at a time... "If only I'd had a weapon... If only I had kept on guard at all times... Master's voice rang in his ears, 'Your opponent will use whatever advantage he can, attack you when your back is turned.'...

    OR you could get him into a misunderstanding and a brawl where he gets to use his skills: MC drew his sword with shaky hands. With his escape cut off, he had no quick way to exit the room. His opponent attacked straight, so MC chose an angled defense. Isn't tht what Master always taught, swordplay was the study of mathematics, angles and lines...

    Just some ideas. I too struggle with balance in my writing, and often in these cases, less is more. of course you want to show the MC getting better, and the lessons with his teacher will give valuable insight, but there are ways to intersperse his lessons into the story without looking too contrived. And internal thoughts are a good way to show what he is learning and how he's getting used to thinking like a professional and gaining instinct without everything boiling down to another lesson in the same classroom.

    The Harry Potter reference is perfect. In fact, that's one of the main reasons I loved those books so much. I was highly disappointed when Hermione's House elf rights club didn't make it into the movies, because that plot line made me laugh hysterically and I could have read two more chapters focused just on that alone.

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