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Lany Freelove Cassandra

I like the story but… complaints about style/substance/etcetera

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5 hours ago, Callan S. said:

I think it's fair to want to be judged on something - a guitarist wants to be judged on how well he plays the guitar, not the drums.

But really, if you want to engage an audience, it doesn't quite work that way.

An author has to play guitar, drums, bass, fiddle, second fiddle, as well as vocals on his/her own. To choose one dimension of the whole and say "hey, ignore the rest" is a cop out. It's the same as saying "judge my songs on the lyrics only, kthx" or "judge my song on the music only, kthx." Like you said, it really doesn't work that way. People aren't looking to experience half a song, and they looking to experience a fraction of a novel.

Edited by Traverys

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On 30/11/2017 at 10:53 PM, polishgenius said:

My pet hate (which doesn't apply just to books) is dream sequences or imagination spots which provide a character with information that proves true relevant in the actual plot (Gravity and The Dark Knight Returns are very guilty of this). Fantasy actually gets away with it a bit more because of the potential for magic, and I actually enjoy a good prophetic dream sequence, such as a few of Martin's, or the ones in Eye of the World that were the only bits of that book I actually liked.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I've grown to absolutely loathe the 'rape as character development' cliche, and its related form, 'rape as backstory'. So many writers seem to think that the only way to give a woman something to brood over, or a dark past, is to have her raped. Of course, it's even worse when a woman gets raped to provide character motivation for a man, but to be fair I seem to come across that a lot less often.

Yeah, that's just lazy writing. Fantasy might make it more plausable, but it still comes across as a bit of a cop out to me.

Oh yeah. It's just too common, it's boring. My worst sub division of "rape as backstory" is "rape revenge". When a woman gets raped, it's probable that she will murder him, probably brutally. If she doesn't, her male partner probably will. That just isn't how things work in reality. It's a bit uncomfortable, because it's always promoted as just, so the implication is that if you are raped, or your partner is raped, you should get brutal revenge, and real life rape victims and their loved ones are failures for not doing this.

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On 12/1/2017 at 0:24 AM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

Here's the thing: writers are con-artists. We have to make people believe in a fictional narrative, and in doing so we invariably have to make it sound like we know what we're talking about. The author in your story doesn't need to have a PhD in Psychology, and they don't even need to properly represent what such a person would say. They need to create the illusion that they are representing what such a person would say - and in this case, the illusion seems to have failed.

This often has to do with constructing a Gary Stu/Mary Sue.  "My character has multiple PhDs (all in STEM fields of course), is a qualified pilot, rides mountain bikes, plays heavy metal guitar, home-brews his own beer, has written and sold several science fiction novels, and is a renowned and notorious cocksman to boot!"

On 12/1/2017 at 0:24 AM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

"Write what you know" is terrible advice, BTW.

As Joe Haldeman so magnificently put it : Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW," a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.

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On 12/11/2017 at 10:55 PM, Traverys said:

People aren't looking to experience half a song, and they looking to experience a fraction of a novel.

Yes, but equally what the readers want doesn't dictate what the author wants. If he wants you to focus on his story, then that's what he wants.

Does it work out when each side wants something, with no concern of what the other wants?

Reminds me of table top roleplay.

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On 12/11/2017 at 4:42 PM, palaeologos said:

This often has to do with constructing a Gary Stu/Mary Sue.  "My character has multiple PhDs (all in STEM fields of course), is a qualified pilot, rides mountain bikes, plays heavy metal guitar, home-brews his own beer, has written and sold several science fiction novels, and is a renowned and notorious cocksman to boot!"

As Joe Haldeman so magnificently put it : Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW," a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.

Yeah, it's such a pet peeve of mine when the focus of a character is on how exceptional and great they are. You start suspecting that the author has essentially projected all the qualities he finds impressive or admirable into a character and thinks that is what makes them interesting. Really, it's often the vices, shortcomings, and/or weaknesses of characters that often make them interesting. I feel like that's a basic rule of thumb any author should be aware of, but that's my opinion.

In the TV series Bones we have Dr. Brennen who has three PhDs (anthropology, forensic anthropology, and kinesiology), a mystery fiction author, excellent marksman, and is probably one of the most brilliant and accomplished people in her areas of expertise. However, what makes her an interesting character is her level of emotional detachment. It's consistently shown to be a virtue in her work and a quirky flaw (and often liability) when it comes to her interacting with people. I wish I could think of a book example instead of a TV one since this IS the literature section, but maybe someone else can chime in.

 

I agree with Haldeman, but conditionally. I think writers are very much able to write about things they don't know, and in doing so they can even develop themselves professionally and artistically. I personally think that writers that set out to write a story with a central thematic question are often most successful when they themselves don't have an answer when they start writing. For example, I didn't really know what I felt about his quote until I wrote the paragraph below... and my opinion changed halfway through!

I think intended audience plays a large part in if you need to write about what you know or not... This opinion mostly comes from a podcast Sanderson has where the "cast" consists of a couple of Sci-Fi writers. In a particular recording they discuss what makes a book Hard Science Fiction, or at least good hard science fiction. One concludes that he, as Hard Sci-Fi writer, believes his audience is looking to read a story where our current understanding of sciences is applied in a way that doesn't violate what they know. Because of this, he can also reasonably expect his audience to have preexisting knowledge of science coming into the story. If you target the same audience as this guy, then you probably really do need to write about things you know or the suspension of disbelief will either fall apart or never be established. But it wouldn't be surprising to find tidbits here and there that delve outside of his areas of disbelief. But the primary elements of his text certainly need to be within his areas of competency to please his audience.

 

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37 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

@Traverys you must looooove The Name of the Wind then. :P

I'm only vaguely knowledgeable about the book. It pops up on recommended books for me a lot but I didn't know if I'd be a fan of the storytelling style. I'm guessing the main character is a Gary Stu?

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21 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Haha, uh, yes. Just a little. :P I'd actually love to see your reaction to it, kinda.

Well I've officially downloaded it on my kindle. No promises I'll actually finish it haha.

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On 11/12/2017 at 10:42 PM, palaeologos said:

This often has to do with constructing a Gary Stu/Mary Sue.  "My character has multiple PhDs (all in STEM fields of course), is a qualified pilot, rides mountain bikes, plays heavy metal guitar, home-brews his own beer, has written and sold several science fiction novels, and is a renowned and notorious cocksman to boot!"

As Joe Haldeman so magnificently put it : Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW," a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.

I think the worst is the combination of the two, when the hero is clearly the writer's fantasty version of themselves. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was the most blatent example I can think of, I thought it was hilarious how the author avatar character was a kind of liberal, Scandi James Bond- he fucks almost every woman he meets, but he totally doesn't intend to, he's just being nice to them and it just sorta happens, and they're all super empowered and the relationships are very healthy and balanced.

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