Longer Lead-ins to Stories?

On the Free Catfights Forum, one of our authors, Hype asked:

Hype: I am not only talking about interactions between two women but also thoughts of them about each other. Do you think it's necessary while writing? As for me I like it as it flushes out their characters and makes the inevitable catfight between them much more interesting.
What are your thoughts? 

Now, Hype‘s question was less about lead-ins, and more about adding women’s feelings about one another to a story. Despite that, everyone who answered on the post took him to be asking about how long the lead-in to a story should be. So, to that unasked question, I wrote the following overly long and self-aggrandizing response:

Obviously, my lead-ins are pretty long and detailed. So, take what I have to say on this issue as someone who might be hopelessly biased.

But with that warning given, as long as the story is well-written, I could go either way

Now, that's a little odd for me to say, I'm sure you're thinking -- if you're aware of my work. Given that my stories usually have a long description of why the women are fighting and why they dislike each other, if they do.

I think that's because I am a slave to what makes me happy. And what makes me happy is writing adventures. To take the reader from one end of a narration to another, and by the end, feel like I have given them a world they like being in, and characters they'd be interested to read about again.

Do I accomplish that? Maybe not. But that's what I am trying to do. That's what makes me love writing. Word after word. Page after page. Story after story.

Some writers tell insanely hot stories, where there is no lead-in, or if there is, it's almost comically short. The women see each other, they glare, they pull hair. Insert description of bodies and clothing somewhere amongst the madness.

To me, a story like that can still be not only satisfying, but thrilling. If it's told and written right, for my personal tastes.

The thing is, and I think people miss this. Is that the tastes of the readers in this community are so wildly diverse, that there is never a right answer.

Never an unqualified perfection.

All stories are valid. Every story can be right up someone's alley.

Some like short, other's long. Some violent other's soft and sensual. Some like feet-play, others want death.

The people who need that, don't care whatever else is awesome about your piece of writing. They have their preference. And you either gave them that, or you didn't.

Some people, have broad pallets where they like everything. I see myself that way, but there aren't many of us.

It's something you don't really see, unless your put into the position of hearing people's desires day in and day out. The kind of stories they want you to add to your site, or write for them.

There are people who come to me ans swear [REDACTED] is the greatest writer in the genre. While others will say, no I don't like his/her stuff at all. It's too blah blah, and not enough whatever.

Each of them is certain. Each of them is sure that their opinion is right. And it is, for them.

Which(!) is why I love questions and posts like this. We get to hear it! The differences between our readers' desires

3 thoughts on “Longer Lead-ins to Stories?

  1. DrewPowell says:


    I have one follow-up to this based on new information compared to last night.

    I watched a movie, bear in mind, not a Lifetime movie about a run-of-the-mill obsessive lover story.

    One reviewer on IMDB hit the nail on its head when they described The Work Wife as a product that knows what it is, and it can’t be salvaged.

    What it didn’t say, how it is both a letdown on the fetish front and a letdown as a literary work. For instance, and I’m not saying spoiler alert, as I really discourage anyone from checking it out, there’s a scene where the wife is pissed at the alleged cheating, throws the husband out, and literally in the next scene the temptress has her captured. Movies are a show, don’t tell medium. Based on the fight that followed, it’s not very likely the wife was just subdued like that.

    They had cast 2 hot actresses, out of whom I only know Elisabeth Harnois from CSI. It’s not her fault, but she can’t save the wife’s inconsistent character, as she’s both a fierce fighter stepping up to the plate, as well as an indecisive scaredy cat, who sobs at the first sign of danger.

    The temptress is equally disserviced. If I had to pick one instance, this is also from the end, she suffers from an emotional overload, indicating that her condition is of neurological nature, not psychotic, but at the same time she’s reapplying makeup (while sobbing!) as if she’s at a party, professing zero awareness. Take note of 2 things: one, these are conflicting mental conditions, and two, actual humans don’t act like that.

    A fetish story can use generic characters, provided it’s generous with the fetish aspects. In the late ’70s, there was a game show, which, for the record did not fly back then either. It was about couples who showed up with the husband’s secretary and the women were asked about the man, and it provided frequent catfights since in most cases the secretary knew more about the hubby.

    It worked since we arrived at the established situation that back then secretaries were both confidants, sometimes mistresses, but even more often (especially if you’ve seen Mad Men) an extension of household chores at the office. Viewers were familiar with that.

    In this, we’re presented with a smoking hot woman, whose justification for seduction is that she’s n love with all of her bosses, even though this schmuck just got hired for the job.

    The funny thing is that today, especially after her post-cheating albums and The Lion King, nobody would think Beyoncé did a very similar movie just a decade ago, and with Idris Elba of all people, who by that time was already famous for having played in The Wire.

  2. astrakhan says:

    I definitely do know the feeling. In the story I’ve been writing on and off again I’ve found it’s taken me several pages just to get to the fight, with all the buildup and work establishing the characters. I did worry if it would turn people off to have that much setup, and I think it was one reason I’ve kind of stalled.

  3. hype says:

    Thanks rivals for the post. I really agree with you when you say it depends on the reader’s interest. While I enjoy reading stories that has a good buildup where the characters and conflict are established. I also like stories where there is an instant conflict.
    For example Sidekick’s Natalie is one of my favourite stories. If you see that story there isn’t much build-up, the women develop an instant hatred for each other and decide to fight in private. But sidekick made up to it by making the catfight as evenly as possible and both the women enjoy the fight between them and decide to fight again and again. So while I agree with you that it depends on the readers, I also think the writer’s capability to create tension between the characters play a role to make the story much more interesting : )


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