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I want to be a productive member of this community, but my questions always end up either as closed or downvoted and forgotten.

I tried everything, even listening to your advice. When they asked me to remove the fluff, I did, when I saw they mistook the whole training arc for a training montage in this question, I added information on what the situation was: a long arc of the cookie-cutter training from hell, where no real threat shows up.

Also, I assumed they mistook that, but because I had no better idea.

What I'm asking is how to ensure my idea gets through as I intended? I hope this one does.

migrated from writing.stackexchange.com Jun 22 '18 at 1:16

This question came from our site for the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, and commercial writing.

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    Looking at your profile it seems like you’ve written far more well received questions than bad ones. So keep doing what you’re doing. Regarding the training question, if it’s not a montage... why did you call it a montage? Edit that word entirely out of your question. – Todd Wilcox Jun 21 '18 at 21:01
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    First off, this should be in the meta section, not here. Second, just think about your question in terms of someone looking to answer it. What do they need to know? Write that question. Remember, even though this is a site on writing, you don't need to stun us with your verbose eloquence. Ask the question in clear terms. Get to the point. Ask a clear question, and you'll get a clear answer. Want tips? Sort questions by votes and look at what the highest rated ones do, compared to those with negative ratings. – Thomas Myron Jun 21 '18 at 22:12
  • @ThomasMyron Not trying to be mean, but the highest rated question is way too broad, so if you excuse me, I now go and tie up some noose ends. – Mephistopheles Jun 21 '18 at 22:32
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    The problem generally isn't with your questions. By and large your questions are good. The supporting text is usually unrelated, tangential and needlessly provocative for no reason. And you spend more time telling everyone that they've misunderstood what you've asked. As a general rule of thumb, when everyone is struggling to understand what you're trying to ask, you may need to change how you ask it. – Thomo Jun 21 '18 at 23:01
  • @LameZeldaPun Just some friendly suggestions. Go down the list a bit and find a more specific question if you want. And you aren't looking at the topic necessarily; I was suggesting you examine the way they are written. – Thomas Myron Jun 21 '18 at 23:47
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    Another friendly suggestion: Look at highly voted questions in tags that interest you. Look at questions in tags that interest you which have drawn highly voted answers. Compare them to your own questions, and see what the similarities are, and what the differences are. One of the skills needed as an author is the ability to analyze the works of others and to take the good parts from those and incorporate them into your own works. You certainly can practice that here; it's a lot easier to analyze a question that's a few paragraphs long than a book that's a few hundred pages long. – a CVn Jun 22 '18 at 9:27
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Good writing considers the audience. It is not an opportunity to show off or act out. It is a piece of professional work prepared for the sake of the people who read it. This is true even for questions you ask to get help with something. Indeed, it is especially true when you are asking a question, since you are asking for something in return. If you are asking for something, your first responsibility is to make it as easy as possible for the person you are asking to understand what you are asking for so that it will be as easy as possible to understand the question and formulate an answer.

So, when asking a question here, or answering one, or in any other piece of writing you do, consider the audience. What vocabulary do they use? What concepts do the understand? What references will be familiar to them? Use those terms, those concepts, those references in your question. And then write as clearly and plainly as possible. Good writing is plain clear writing. In summary, be lucid.

So, when you write a question, consider your audience. Is this the way they write? Are these the kinds of ideas they talk about. Are these the kinds of examples they use. (Why are Harry Potter and LOTR used as examples so often here? Because these are works most people here are familiar with.) Always choose the best known example to illustrate your point so that more people will know what the example means.

Reread your questions carefully and thoughtfully until you are sure you have made it as clear to the reader as it can possible be. This is something you are going to have to learn to do to be a writer, so you might as well start practicing here.

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    Times like this I wish I could vote more than once. Keep it simple. Keep it polite. Be professional. – Thomo Jun 22 '18 at 3:36
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    You could probably delete everything after the first sentence and this would still be a pretty decent answer. Not saying you should, but if everyone who wrote things for others to read kept that in mind at all times, it's likely that the world would be a much better place overall. :-) – a CVn Jun 22 '18 at 14:30
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Don't put in "clever" comments and links to tangentially related, or completely unrelated, internet content.

Sit down and think carefully about what exactly your question is, and ask that question, and only put in exactly what other information is necessary.

Avoid using metaphor or cultural references or pithy phrases, they are usually confusing.

Examples of confusing and unnecessary phrases that seem to have nothing to do with your questions and might clarify things if omitted:

  • "not because I thought they were a bunch of aspies."
  • "it's a strong Mary Sue repellant"
  • "I'm obliged to deliver all the infodump"
  • "big bad (the only real threat) was stopped and he cannot return with the help of a magical kidney stone"
  • "The mentor's techniques are "unorthodox", but harmless"
  • "the reader eating his own face off" (just say "getting bored")

Instead of unusual phrases like "big bad evil guy", just write "antagonist" or "villain". Keep it simple.

  • Fixed, anything else? – Mephistopheles Jun 21 '18 at 21:39
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    @LameZeldaPun If you're looking for an exhaustive list of things to edit out before posting, I doubt anyone here is going to be able (let alone willing) to provide that. Note that Todd used the word "examples"; lists of examples are typically not intended to be exhaustive, but only to provide illustration of a point made. – a CVn Jun 22 '18 at 9:30
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Well. Since you asked, you shall receive.

A prolonged training "montage" (really an arc at this point) can help establish many things in the setting, not to mention that it's a strong Mary Sue repellant. Also, the characters are learning about the world along with the reader, so I'm obliged to deliver all the infodump, but in manageable chunks.

The only real caveat that can crop up is, that during this time, the larger plot is halted. We assume the worst, alas, the big bad (the only real threat) was stopped and he cannot return with the help of a magical kidney stone. This BBEG is no more!

Should I, and if yes, how should I make such prolonged training arc, without the reader eating his own face off from boredom?

What does this have to do with "Making a prolonged training montage work".

Let's get into specifics, so I'll break down my explanation paragraph by paragraph.

A prolonged training "montage" (really an arc at this point) can help establish many things in the setting, not to mention that it's a strong Mary Sue repellant.

First. Is this a montage or isn't it? If it's an arc, call it an arc. But more to the actual problem. The point of SE is to be able to help more people having sort of similar problems. So, if you contour the question to only fit the narrow situation of your problem, then it's a problem.

Second off. What does this have to do with making a prolonged training montage work? You're explaining it quite clearly, if in your own words, views, and opinions, but what makes this relevant to making a montage of any kind work?

Then comes the 'Mary Sue repellent'(notice the spelling difference). First. Mary Sue isn't just an OP character (otherwise there wouldn't be the need of 'OP'). Mary Sue is a character that distorts the natural order of things for the sake of making the character look better, for whatever reasons.See Overly Sarcastic Productions' Trope Talk about Mary Sue for more details.

Also, the characters are learning about the world along with the reader, so I'm obliged to deliver all the infodump, but in manageable chunks.

I understand making it clear what we're talking about. But first, infodumping is bad no matter what. But then you make wild assertions: "I'm obliged to..." Whycome? Since when do we (writers) follow rules so religiously that 'obliged' becomes a thing?

Speaking purely for myself, I study the guidelines of others so I'll know when I am breaking which 'rule', but I, in no way, shape or form, feel particularly obliged to do anything but tell an interesting tale.

The only real caveat that can crop up is, that during this time, the larger plot is halted.

Another assertion. Are you asking for advice, or trying to give it? And while I may agree that within certain subplots, the larger narrative may be set onto the backburner, does that mean the romantic subplot shouldn't dare be put into a larger narrative? Should romance only be allowed within the confines of the Romance Genre?

We assume the worst, alas, the big bad (the only real threat) was stopped and he cannot return with the help of a magical kidney stone. This BBEG is no more!

While I appreciate the humorous link (and that really is one of my favourite sketches), you offer another assertion. Why would we assume that? Why would we have to? Sure, it can be argued that [insert assertion here], but have you considered [sprinkle in exposition here], or perhaps [happy beeping (courtesy of E-dy from Fallout Las Vegas, Lonesome Road DLC)].

If you want to know how to make something work. Ask: "How do I make this work?" Then, for clarification's sake, add: "This is my specific problem. This is what I've tried. And I'm not sure if the problem is my understanding of the concept, or this isn't meshing with my writing style."

What you do instead?

Should I, and if yes, how should I make such prolonged training arc, without the reader eating his own face off from boredom?

Your opening question is open: how do I make this work?

Your explanation, or expansion of the premise, is then assertion+assertion+humour=HelpMePlease!

Only to round off with (essentially), "Should I do this? If I should, how?"

So, let's try this instead. And compare my framing to yours, and see if this comes over as trying to get people to engage in conversation, while showing what problem I'm having.

You remember that training montage in Rocky? Where they're playing Eye of the Tiger, and this guy is running and training and doing a bunch of other stuff that has nothing to do with his opponent?

What if this wasn't a boxing match, but a supremely evil overlord (TM) or a dark lord (TM)? I mean, if you were to compare that same setup to Luke Skywalker, where he's training, but in the back of your mind the rest of the Galaxy is essentially waiting for him to hurry the hell up!

Can you strike a balance between the two? To give the reader the feeling that the protagonist is training hard to face a supremely dangerous enemy, while not giving the setting (the world around them) the feeling like the hero doesn't care and essentially abandoned them?

How do you make it feel like the underdog of the tale is working hard, but isn't going to suddenly pull a Neo in a matter of weeks (or downloads)?

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    What does "(TM)" mean? What does "pull a Neo" mean? And "(or downloads)"? What? I was with this answer up until the last block quote where you suggest the asker edit their question to be just as confusing as their question currently is! – Todd Wilcox Jun 21 '18 at 21:44
  • (TM) trade mark. A play on showing it's been done. And 'pull a Neo', from the Matrix Trilogy. – Fayth85 Jun 21 '18 at 21:45
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    Yeah, I saw the Matrix trilogy and I still don't understand what "pull a Neo" means. – Todd Wilcox Jun 21 '18 at 21:46
  • Neo lays on his back, with a spike poked into the back of his head. And he literally downloads 'how to be a badass' into his brain. And... Look ma! I know kung fu! That's what I mean. He goes from Joe Schlub to king of kick ass in 'a montage'. – Fayth85 Jun 21 '18 at 21:48
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Your questions are amazing. To be honest with you, I am (almost) seriously considering raiding your back-catalogue of down-voted questions, re-writing them, changing the focus and reposting them as my own (but don't tell anyone I said that - it's probably against the rules). Point I'm trying to make is that your questions are not (generally) the problem.

The challenge you face (IMO) is that you have a lot of knowledge in your head and you feel compelled to demonstrate that in the way you write questions. It took me ages to pare away the extraneous matter from the question you're referring to in order to find the diamond within. To do that I had to do multiple internet searches and follow some links. I shouldn't have to do that.

Links should be there for people who want to know more about a subject, not to understand what you're saying. Explain stuff for people who know less than you, or leave it out altogether if it doesn't contribute to the question.

Please continue to ask questions, but please keep it simple for people like me who know less than you about the things that you know.

Good luck going forward.

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