Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio

I have come to an interesting conclusion when it comes to writing. I do not profess to be an expert writer - I have never had anything published - but I think as a starting writer I can still make some observations. One of the things that I struggle with in writing is the idea of continuity. It is too easy to instead of filling in the gaps in character's lives to simply jump over large parts of the plot to get between areas of action of significant development of plot. The trade-off in doing so as generally at the expense of character development. By skipping the little stuff and the quiet moments, the reader is uncertain of the development of the characters and their own internal monologue which makes them more endearing. This is not a problem with aspiring writers - there are a lot of well-recognized famous authors that mostly skip over character development to tell their story. I will suggest as well that this is an increasingly harder problem in a science-fiction or fantasy setting as one of the underlying concepts behind these genres are the overall concepts and often not the development of the characters within. For instance, it is much more important for something sci-fi like to happen to Star Trek characters as opposed to them reflecting on their lives (not to say that this doesn't happen though - that Captain Picard is always talking about Moby Dick after all.)

So this gets around to a huge pitfall which writers might like to try to avoid, and that the is the montage. The montage often is one of a training regimen (though it can be something else, like the development of a romantic relationship.) The problem with a montage though is that by its structure it discards character development. A character's progress in other ways can be measured but there is very little focus on the characters themselves in such an approach. As I don't focus on the comic book format in terms of writing, this is less applicable to me. It is hard to incorporate a montage into a medium without a direct visual link so novel writing is not really affected, but character development is one of the harder things for writers to write and the montage can be a huge impediment.

#1 Posted by Delphic (1705 posts) - - Show Bio

It's not exactly hard to write a montage into a narrative text, it's just next to impossible to do it without it sounding like you're writing down a to do list (or in the characters case a "Have done" list). I think the equivalent of a montage in narrative form would be the summary. Just imagine for a moment though if a writer writes a section in great detail, but to get to the next part they write a short paragraph covering events in between the two scenes they wish to write. A montage/summary in a narrative would just be bad writing.

#2 Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio

@Delphic: I think it is just sloppy writing, even in action/romance

#3 Posted by akbogert (3292 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not sure I've ever even really thought about montage in a non-visual medium. As far as I knew it was a film technique, ironically originally designed for the purpose of making an event take longer.

The one way I think montage can be made to work in literature is a series of journal entries, newspaper articles, or letters, which, due to their dated nature, allow for a plausible flow which necessarily skips large chunks of time. So long as the changes between snippets are gradual enough, you can actually accomplish a pretty big change from the first, say, letter, and the last one.

#4 Posted by cbishop (9405 posts) - - Show Bio

@batkevin74 does it all the time. It works well enough- especially if you're working in the confines of a word limit.