August 08, 2020, 03:49:47 PM

Author Topic: slow starts?  (Read 9835 times)

Offline redhead

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2011, 02:37:22 PM »
a bunch of books I've picked up recently had either super slow, or just plain weird starts.  My personal rule is I give the book 100 pages, if it still is slow, or sucky or just to weird, I put it down.  but all the slow starts lately, they've all gotten good before page 100!

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2011, 10:44:28 PM »
I know it's dystopian SF rather than fantasy, but Jack Womack's Random Acts of Senseless Violence started off slowly, but the distinctive voice of the main character kept me plugging away at the novel until the end, which I'm very glad of.
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: slow starts?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2011, 07:31:30 PM »
I would say Robin Hobb always gets off to a slow start which sadly scare lots of readers off, but I am glad she doe, as it really helps set up for the emotional kicks which come later. 

Found Stan Nichol's Orcs hard to get into, even though it effectively gets off to a flyer! - just was hard to visual the characters.  (again done on purpose for a big reveal at the end of the first chapter.)
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Offline eclipse

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Re: slow starts?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2017, 05:30:56 PM »
I mostly DNF slow starts now, saying that I do seem to get to 33% in before putting them down for good.

What's the most you read into a story before putting it down ? I read the The Time Traveler's Wife quite a way in before I said to myself why I'm I reading this I'm not enjoying it that much

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Offline Peat

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2017, 06:50:30 PM »
I struggle with slow starts a lot, but I consider a book slow if its not getting to an interesting character quickly rather than if its not getting to action or the main plot quickly. Which means a lot of the books people consider good examples of quick starts I find pretty boring.

And I read a long way into the latest SoIaF and the last one of the Assassin's Apprentice trilogy before going "meeeeh".
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2017, 06:58:46 PM »
the best example is Way of Kings. I almost stopped after I read Dalinar's first chapter, but with such a high rating and excellent reviews, I kept going. And I'm sure as hell glad I did.

I need a compelling character, or an interesting story to draw me into a book. I'm not going to waste my time on something that takes half of the book to get there. There are so many other things I want to read, I don't have time.

I've gotten 300 pages into a book out of 320 and stopped because I got so angry, and I've also stopped 20 pages into a book because I was so bored. So basically, I'll stop anywhere.

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: slow starts?
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2017, 07:53:27 PM »
I don't normally mind slow starts
Since my reading is basically a conveyor belt, when I start a book I probably finished the last one on the night before, or early this morning, so the beginning of each book for me is always an adjustment period, hehe
It takes a very bad/annoying/badly written book for me to give up after just a few dozen pages...

I've gotten 300 pages into a book out of 320 and stopped because I got so angry,
wow ultament, I'd never do that, I'd be far too curious to at least read the last few pages, hehe
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Offline Nora

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Re: slow starts?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2017, 11:49:08 PM »
I did just that with The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Great prose and interesting premise, and I just couldn't care about baru that much, and I could guess how it would end either way, and 68% in, I just couldn't bring myself to care enough, when I could be reading something else.

I've DNFed in the first page. Mostly because characters are unappealing, or their complication takes forever to arrive or is uninteresting.
I've DNFed the Djinni and the Golem because it was beautiful but I was bored of reading their independent stories.
I DNFed A thousand brilliant sun because I was thinking 'okay it's so sad, but so what?'
I really don't like stories in which we follow characters down their average-struggles life.

Slow starts aren't a problem, if well made. Johnathan Strange and Mr Norell is slow as hell, but the prose is compelling, and the build up to the church scene is great, and the problem met by Strange is unique and cool, even if initially not as critical as later on.

I think slow starts aren't problems in themselves, they're just a dangerous field to tread for writers. 
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: slow starts?
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2017, 12:51:35 AM »
I mostly DNF slow starts now, saying that I do seem to get to 33% in before putting them down for good.

What's the most you read into a story before putting it down ? I read the The Time Traveler's Wife quite a way in before I said to myself why I'm I reading this I'm not enjoying it that much

It varies, but 33% is a very fair crack of the whip, I seldom last that long before deciding to stop altogether.  Can recognise an instant DNF within a page or two, whereas there are a few I will try again up to three times. Embassytown was one of those, really hard to get into but very glad I did.

Also agree with all who found Mistborn a very slow start, if hadn't heard so much praise here would never have found out how awesome the magic actually was and got pulled in altogether.

I struggle with slow starts a lot, but I consider a book slow if its not getting to an interesting character quickly rather than if its not getting to action or the main plot quickly.

Agree with this and will also accept slow start if it is introducing a fascinating world, specially if it is clearly the start of a series and needs to set a clear scene. 

I did just that with The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Great prose and interesting premise, and I just couldn't care about baru that much, and I could guess how it would end either way, and 68% in, I just couldn't bring myself to care enough, when I could be reading something else.

Have exactly same problems as Nora with Baru. Two false starts and may not try again for along time but cannot finally DNF yet.

The City of Stairs had a slow start and many disliked the seemingly irrelevant long court scene at the beginning, but I didn't mind that at all because for me it instantly built the whole present atmosphere of the world of the cities. Then it still didn't pick up speed until the end, but the world itself and its power politics held me in, certainly more than the crime or even the characters at first.

We seem to have varied degrees of acceptance here regarding slow starts, which is good. I have a feeling older readers who were brought up on many extremely dry and wordy classics are more tolerant of comparatively slow starts than younger ones who prefer action to begin more quickly.

This is by no means a criticism, just a reflection on how the world is now. I am frequently disappointed by old films I loved, which now seem unbearably slow. Life has speeded up and so have many of our expectations.
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Offline Peat

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2017, 01:32:25 AM »
We seem to have varied degrees of acceptance here regarding slow starts, which is good. I have a feeling older readers who were brought up on many extremely dry and wordy classics are more tolerant of comparatively slow starts than younger ones who prefer action to begin more quickly.

This is by no means a criticism, just a reflection on how the world is now. I am frequently disappointed by old films I loved, which now seem unbearably slow. Life has speeded up and so have many of our expectations.

This is certainly true - and yet I'd hold up JK Rowling as an example of a pretty slow start by most standards. There are other very/fairly popular works out there feel slow. Senlin Ascends, for example (based on just a kindle sample read), or City of Stairs. The Emperor's Blades, arguably (although I never got far enough within to find out for sure). Either there's still a place for slow, or the popular definition of slow isn't quite accurate. I suspect both.

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Offline gennerik

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2017, 03:41:16 AM »
So, have to agree with Thomas Covenant being slow, especially the first trilogy. The first time I read it, I pretty much skipped 50 pages until he got summoned. LotR is also really slow. Sitting at 23% through the omnibus version on my reread of it, and having trouble continuing.  The Wheel of Time started slow, as did Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams, though that's one of my favorite "trilogies".
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Offline DrNefario

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2017, 02:00:42 PM »
I very rarely abandon any books. This is partly because I'm often reading towards some kind of goal - such as my current attempt to read all BSFA winners (I finished the Hugos a few years ago) - and I don't feel I can skimp on those books and still count them. It's also because I have quite a high tolerance when it comes to fantasy. I can normally enjoy any fantasy at least long enough to finish the first book in a series, then I'll simply find I have no interest in reading book 2.

If a book's short, I'll probably just speed up and push through. If it's long, then the chances are it's fantasy and the second rule applies.

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2017, 03:28:02 PM »
I do agree that "The Name of the Wind" starts out as being pretty slow, although Mistborn's first chapters picked up when I discovered Kelsier had actually killed all those nobles at the skaa plantation. LOTR start and ending, however, was admittedly dull. I haven't finished the ending of the Return of the King, despite having read the rest of the trilogy over a year ago.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: slow starts?
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2017, 04:03:00 PM »
I suspect that behind the trends in preferences in pacing there is some brain chemistry going on. We know that dopamine-addiction from mobile devices and social media is a thing, and like any addiction, it makes people anxious to get that next hit of reward hormone. Even at levels of engagement that fall below "addiction" level, this makes one inherently less patient. With the rise of mobile devices and social media, the scale of what is considered slow, medium, and fast-paced has shifted accordingly. Melville was SLOW, LoTR was medium, and The Da Vinci Code was fast. Now Melville is glacial, LoTR is slow, The Da Vinci Code is medium, and I don't even know what's considered fast, but I'm sure it's frantic by comparison.
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: slow starts?
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2017, 02:52:30 PM »
I do agree that "The Name of the Wind" starts out as being pretty slow, although Mistborn's first chapters picked up when I discovered Kelsier had actually killed all those nobles at the skaa plantation. LOTR start and ending, however, was admittedly dull. I haven't finished the ending of the Return of the King, despite having read the rest of the trilogy over a year ago.
There are three reasons I stopped reading Name of the Wind.

First, instead of showing me how deadly the Skrael are, which might've encouraged me to get to the end of his other story, he had the pov character get knocked out, which felt like a cheap trick to me. Second, I didn't feel like the writing style was anything special. It felt like he was trying too hard to be fancy, instead of getting the story out. Third, I don't want to read about an arrogant character whose probably lying about the whole thing anyway. I can read about killers, rapists, cheats, or any other number of people who are considered vile. I cannot, however, read about an arrogant person from a first-person view.