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Author Topic: Do you read like a writer?  (Read 8093 times)

Offline D_Bates

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2015, 02:24:32 AM »
I read like a writer, and yes, it's painful to do so. If I'm being honest, some of the things mentioned in Eric's article infuriate me. It's the sort of advice you see everywhere, yet were new writers to actually apply it they'd probably never get published, because most big names don't abide by any of the supposed rules.

One of the first books I read after starting to write was JK Rowlings Harry Potter. To clarify, I really liked it--a lot. For sure she's a fantastic author with wonderful characterisation and imagination. But I was doing a writing course at the time and one of the first laws it stated was not to use caps lock for shouting. We see it on forums and we cringe. Yet in the first thirty pages of Philosopher's Stone almost every time Harry's uncle blows a gasket at him we're delighted with two rows of block capital letters. This is the sort of thing that an aspiring nobody would get an instant rejection for. But not only has the most successful author of the modern age made this elementary mistake, her work has also gone through a large publishing house and been okayed by, I assume, a fleet of high paid editors. Some might argue that it's okay because it's a children's book, but is it? Do we really want children to learn that to shout on forums you hold down shift? So if I'm reading this work to see how it's done you can forgive me if I start capsing those words up, right?

Another I read was Stephen King's 'The Running Man'. Can't go wrong with some of the King. And honestly, I enjoyed this too. Was it a 5 star classic every review site claims?--absolutely not. The lead character spent almost 10 pages at the end stumbling over his own intestines which were hanging out from a gunshot wound to the stomach. They were getting caught up on chairs and everything--I mean, it was ludicrous. Then there was the descriptive scene of a new room that went something like: There was a bed on the right. There was a cabinet beside the bed. There was a lamp on the cabinet. There was a pen by the lamp. There was a door on the other side. He went through it. There was a sink. There was a tray above the sink. There was soap in the tray...
This may well have been an intended technique to show the PoV character as analysing the room, but it's still terrible writing, and were anyone who doesn't own a brand name to do this they'd get immediately castrated.
I then tried 'The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon', but gave up when the scene jumped 100 miles mid-sentence right after I'd been exposed to near ten pages of detailed description of the PoV character suffering from chronic diarrhea after drinking from a freshwater stream.
Next I considered trying IT, until I discovered the end involved a giant orgy scene with a bunch of 13 year olds.

This is the sort of stuff I pick up when I read modern works and--at risk of insulting half the people here--I could go into essays of what's wrong with Game of Thrones. "It's gritty and real" I hear people say--no it's not. "It has great characterisation"--no it hasn't. When I start picking the plot apart I realise it's held together by dental floss. I would even argue that the Daenerys arc, even if accidental, is as close to literary paedophilia as you could get. Yet there's no denying that it's a huge success--a terrific success even.

Twilight... the topic of an April Fools joke on this very forum. You don't have to search hard to find countless breakdowns of what's wrong with this works plotting and structure. Yet by the very advice from these experts around the world this is precisely the sort of material new writers should be pulling apart and trying to mimic in order to be successful.

The message I get from most of these modern day marvels is that so long as you fill the pages with enough corny romance or nonsensical sex scenes you've got yourself a hit. Fifty Shades of Grey is a real thing, after all.

Another cliche line if you want to learn how to write is to read Dickens. Serious question here: were Dickens alive today to write Oliver Twist do you think it would ever get published? An omni PoV narrative with Hand of God intervention on almost every plot twist, and a main character who has zero growth throughout the tale. Yet what I did pull from Oliver Twist was Dickens skill for metaphor. The way he compared the poor to rats by giving them the facial features of rodents... brilliant. I was awed at the skill in which he crafted Nancy's character, and the humanity he portrayed when the world rose up against the man who murdered her. The scene of Sykes hanging from his own noose is pretty much burned into my memory as the sort of thing I dream of being able to one day replicate in my own work.

Then there's Jane Austen. I'm not much of a romance person, but I did read Pride and Prejudice for writing research and it's by far my favourite book of all time. I couldn't finish 'Sense and Sensibility' mind you, but 'Pride and Prejudice'... pure brilliance. But the sad truth is that Jane Austen was a self published author because her work wasn't good enough for 'mainstream markets'. Her name as one of the all time greats only came about a hundred years after she was dead. That pretty much says all you need to know about the industry side of the profession, and its easy to find countless laments from famous authors across the centuries who were reduced to writing what they themselves knew to be hot garbage simply to put food on the table.

So yea, that's my late night rant. I apologise if I've inadvertedly offended anyone. This has been something that's been weighing on my chest for a while now, so it's good to let it out.

I'll leave off by saying, ScarletBea, come put your input on the writing forums anytime. I personally gain far more value from the view of a legitimate reader than I do picking apart any number of 'New York Times Bestseller'™.

And Skip, remember that all those greats you mentioned are great because they worked their ass off day in and day out to master their own style in the craft. I don't see any reason why that same principle shouldn't apply today, no less for your writing as for mine.
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Offline RussetDivinity

Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2015, 03:46:32 AM »
I read like a writer, and yes, it's painful to do so. If I'm being honest, some of the things mentioned in Eric's article infuriate me. It's the sort of advice you see everywhere, yet were new writers to actually apply it they'd probably never get published, because most big names don't abide by any of the supposed rules.

One of the first books I read after starting to write was JK Rowlings Harry Potter. To clarify, I really liked it--a lot. For sure she's a fantastic author with wonderful characterisation and imagination. But I was doing a writing course at the time and one of the first laws it stated was not to use caps lock for shouting. We see it on forums and we cringe. Yet in the first thirty pages of Philosopher's Stone almost every time Harry's uncle blows a gasket at him we're delighted with two rows of block capital letters. This is the sort of thing that an aspiring nobody would get an instant rejection for. But not only has the most successful author of the modern age made this elementary mistake, her work has also gone through a large publishing house and been okayed by, I assume, a fleet of high paid editors. Some might argue that it's okay because it's a children's book, but is it? Do we really want children to learn that to shout on forums you hold down shift? So if I'm reading this work to see how it's done you can forgive me if I start capsing those words up, right?...

So yea, that's my late night rant. I apologise if I've inadvertedly offended anyone.

How dare you speak against the great J.K. Rowling?

In all seriousness (and by that, I mean actual seriousness; it takes more than pointing out that she uses all caps for someone to offend me), part of learning the rules of writing involves learning when to break those rules. After you learn "show, don't tell", you have to learn when it's best to throw that out the window and just straight up tell the reader something. After you learn never to use all capital letters for shouting, you have to learn when it's best to use all capital letters for shouting (or anything, really). The only way to tell when it's best for any of these is just to do it when it feels right and when it works, and in my opinion, using all caps for Uncle Vernon works. It works because he's such an over-the-top character and because it shows just how intense his rage is at whatever he's raging at.

And really, how else does one shout on a forum? Personally, multiple exclamation points are much more of an eyesore than rows of all capital letters will ever be.

Offline JMack

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2015, 03:59:07 AM »
I read like a writer, and yes, it's painful to do so. If I'm being honest, some of the things mentioned in Eric's article infuriate me. It's the sort of advice you see everywhere, yet were new writers to actually apply it they'd probably never get published, because most big names don't abide by any of the supposed rules.

One of the first books I read after starting to write was JK Rowlings Harry Potter. To clarify, I really liked it--a lot. For sure she's a fantastic author with wonderful characterisation and imagination. But I was doing a writing course at the time and one of the first laws it stated was not to use caps lock for shouting. We see it on forums and we cringe. Yet in the first thirty pages of Philosopher's Stone almost every time Harry's uncle blows a gasket at him we're delighted with two rows of block capital letters. This is the sort of thing that an aspiring nobody would get an instant rejection for. But not only has the most successful author of the modern age made this elementary mistake, her work has also gone through a large publishing house and been okayed by, I assume, a fleet of high paid editors. Some might argue that it's okay because it's a children's book, but is it? Do we really want children to learn that to shout on forums you hold down shift? So if I'm reading this work to see how it's done you can forgive me if I start capsing those words up, right?...

So yea, that's my late night rant. I apologise if I've inadvertedly offended anyone.

How dare you speak against the great J.K. Rowling?

In all seriousness (and by that, I mean actual seriousness; it takes more than pointing out that she uses all caps for someone to offend me), part of learning the rules of writing involves learning when to break those rules. After you learn "show, don't tell", you have to learn when it's best to throw that out the window and just straight up tell the reader something. After you learn never to use all capital letters for shouting, you have to learn when it's best to use all capital letters for shouting (or anything, really). The only way to tell when it's best for any of these is just to do it when it feels right and when it works, and in my opinion, using all caps for Uncle Vernon works. It works because he's such an over-the-top character and because it shows just how intense his rage is at whatever he's raging at.

And really, how else does one shout on a forum? Personally, multiple exclamation points are much more of an eyesore than rows of all capital letters will ever be.
I actually think D_Bates was making the point that the Rowling caps WORK in spite of the rules  ;)
Meanwhile, I agree with @RussetDivinity's point. We have to read to learn to write, and understand basic rules before we go in our own direction.

Meanwhile, the point that I think set @D_Bates off most from the OP may have been the comment that if we're unpublished we must be doing something wrong; and if we're published, then we're doing it right. I agree this certainly isn't always the case.

At the same time, we all need some sel-awareness and perspective as we chase our dreams of writing. To  completely garble Bilbo: we're not half of us as liked as we ought to be, but we're not half of us as good as we think we are either.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2015, 04:10:11 AM by Jmacyk »
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2015, 04:50:59 AM »
It's true, some absolute rubbish gets published, and it becomes popular. Some very ordinary work are regarded as classics, and at times it's simply because they're old works. I've read a few so called classics and come away thinking that if I were in publishing I'd have rejected them, in fact I'm pretty sure that if the authors sent in the same stuff they've be rejected out of hand. There's a story about two journalists who in conjunction with an award winning author sent in some of his award winning work to a number of publishers and had it all rejected, despite the fact that it had already been published and actually won awards.
On the OP, though, I think if you're a writer, you unconsciously start picking apart what you read as you do it. You don't even know you're doing it, but you are on some level. You simply can't help yourself.
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2015, 04:56:04 AM »
I read like a writer in that I pay attention to what works for me and what doesn't, or why the other might have chosen a particular narrative style. I also pay attention to things I'm struggling with in my own writing at the time. I don't let these things destroy my appreciation of a book, though. There are many books that I can read and acknowledge that they're written pretty badly, and I still can enjoy the books.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2015, 11:06:00 AM »
For me it's not about looking at what writers do so that I can copy the bits that make them successful, it's about looking at which bits do and don't work for me. It's more a way of defining what I enjoy than working out what causes success. Those will often be the same thing, but that's not always going to be the case. Then the knowledge of what types of writing appeal to me (or don't appeal) can inform the way I write. Because it's about what I think of the book, I'd never end up writing something like Twilight just because it'd sell - I'd always be writing something that I would love to read.

For example I'm currently reading The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron, and while I'm enjoying it I've noticed that the beginnings of some chapters are sticking points for me. The problem chapters are the ones that begin in omniscient before shifting to limited third person. That technique isn't an issue in most cases, but the way Aaron writes omniscient doesn't work for me. She uses way too many commas, to the point where the sentences are almost illegible for me. A couple of examples from book 2 chapters 1 and 7:

Quote
But highest of all, towering over even the famous seven battlements of Whitefall Citadel, home of the Merchant Princes of Zarin and the revolutionary body they had founded, the Council of Thrones, stood the soaring white spire of the Spirit Court.

Quote
There, perched like a coral on a jut of bare rock, stood the Whitefall Citadel, fortress of the Whitefall family, the Merchant Princes of Zarin, and official home of the unprecedented organization they had founded, the Council of Thrones.

What I've gained from this is that while I like the cinematic swoop from omniscient to third limited, it's not a good place to try to work in some worldbuilding - and that too many commas can make for a painful reading experience. While I was aware of those things before, reading something that breaks those rules unsuccessfully makes it much clearer to me somehow.
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Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2015, 11:31:32 AM »
I read like a writer, and yes, it's painful to do so. If I'm being honest, some of the things mentioned in Eric's article infuriate me. It's the sort of advice you see everywhere, yet were new writers to actually apply it they'd probably never get published, because most big names don't abide by any of the supposed rules.

One of the first books I read after starting to write was JK Rowlings Harry Potter. To clarify, I really liked it--a lot. For sure she's a fantastic author with wonderful characterisation and imagination. But I was doing a writing course at the time and one of the first laws it stated was not to use caps lock for shouting. We see it on forums and we cringe. Yet in the first thirty pages of Philosopher's Stone almost every time Harry's uncle blows a gasket at him we're delighted with two rows of block capital letters. This is the sort of thing that an aspiring nobody would get an instant rejection for. But not only has the most successful author of the modern age made this elementary mistake, her work has also gone through a large publishing house and been okayed by, I assume, a fleet of high paid editors. Some might argue that it's okay because it's a children's book, but is it? Do we really want children to learn that to shout on forums you hold down shift? So if I'm reading this work to see how it's done you can forgive me if I start capsing those words up, right?...

So yea, that's my late night rant. I apologise if I've inadvertedly offended anyone.

How dare you speak against the great J.K. Rowling?

In all seriousness (and by that, I mean actual seriousness; it takes more than pointing out that she uses all caps for someone to offend me), part of learning the rules of writing involves learning when to break those rules. After you learn "show, don't tell", you have to learn when it's best to throw that out the window and just straight up tell the reader something. After you learn never to use all capital letters for shouting, you have to learn when it's best to use all capital letters for shouting (or anything, really). The only way to tell when it's best for any of these is just to do it when it feels right and when it works, and in my opinion, using all caps for Uncle Vernon works. It works because he's such an over-the-top character and because it shows just how intense his rage is at whatever he's raging at.

And really, how else does one shout on a forum? Personally, multiple exclamation points are much more of an eyesore than rows of all capital letters will ever be.

Basically, if you're good enough, you can break all the "rules" you want - and thank goodness for that.

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2015, 01:47:01 PM »
This is the sort of stuff I pick up when I read modern works and--at risk of insulting half the people here--I could go into essays of what's wrong with Game of Thrones. "It's gritty and real" I hear people say--no it's not. "It has great characterisation"--no it hasn't. When I start picking the plot apart I realise it's held together by dental floss. I would even argue that the Daenerys arc, even if accidental, is as close to literary paedophilia as you could get. Yet there's no denying that it's a huge success--a terrific success even.
Bold statement indeed. I'm sure there's a group of us that would be very interested if you started a thread and pointed out a bunch of examples of the above. Of course, then you would have to be willing to risk having insults thrown at you from particularly passionate people, but I think overall more would listen with an open mind.
I would hope, at least.

Offline Rostum

Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2015, 06:21:40 PM »
Quote
This is the sort of stuff I pick up when I read modern works and--at risk of insulting half the people here--I could go into essays of what's wrong with Game of Thrones. "It's gritty and real" I hear people say--no it's not. "It has great characterisation"--no it hasn't. When I start picking the plot apart I realise it's held together by dental floss. I would even argue that the Daenerys arc, even if accidental, is as close to literary paedophilia as you could get. Yet there's no denying that it's a huge success--a terrific success even.

There is nothing accidental about Daenerys age in the books at all. For legal reasons Daenerys age was changed in the HBO series. Our laws are not consistant across media in the UK. Perhaps looking at even a fantasy medieval setting from a twenty first centuary viewpoint does not serve. What are your views on Romeo and Juliet?

Offline D_Bates

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2015, 04:40:26 AM »
@RussetDivinity - I completely agree. I know why the caps are there. I still think she could have had the same effect with good old exclamation mark/italics, because Vernan's speech is excellent enough to get his wonderful personality across. But that's just personal preference. And yea, at the end of the day it's a really minor niggle for what is otherwise an excellent book with great characters and a really easy to read style.
The point I was trying to make is that your average publisher/agent probably only knows the basics, so when they see rows of caps in a manuscript it will likely be immediately thrown aside as a dud, even before the words themselves are read. This is why it's frustrating when you're at a stage where you're beginning to understand what an author is doing and why, but know damn well that were you to do the same the response will be that you're still an amateur who needs to study the greats to see how it's done.

@ultamentkiller - I'm not looking to make enemies. I don't doubt there's a large amount of Game of Thrones fans here. And you know what, that's cool. People like different things and there were certainly things I saw that I liked. As others have rightfully said, that's what you should pull out for your own writing. I thought the scene where King Robert and Eddard Stark were talking in the crypt was very well done.

@Rostum - I don't doubt Daenerys' age isn't accidental, but you can't compare this to Romeo and Juliet. Their motivations were based on love, not sex or building families, and Daenerys' marriage isn't in any way the same as that of Sansa and Joffrey's--which was done absolutely right. At anyrate, I don't want to derail this thread so I'll add my further thoughts in spoilers. Read if you care and by all means point out where I'm wrong, but I'm not looking to get into a rage war. I'm just looking for advice on where I'm going wrong with my analysis.

Spoiler for Hiden:
As I understand it, child marriages were to unite wealthy families/countries in a bond of peace. I don't think people in medieval times were marrying their children at early teens and throwing them out the door to raise a family together. Though we may be more technologically advanced we're still the same creatures. This was a ritual, not a way of life.

I don't get why Drogo is even getting married. Is there any sign the Dothraki tribe believes in marriage through all their rape and pillaging--not to mention ceremonies where they do blood sports for the right to mate? And if so, why has Drogo--alpha male of alpha males that he is--not got a string of wives already?

Surely Daenerys is but a piece of white meat tribute to him? As a writer analysing plot, all I see is a sham of a marriage which exists only to make what happens to her tolerable in most peoples eyes. Exactly the same reason she's consenting to sex on their honeymoon night, because the violent rape that should have happened were she and Drogo true to their characters--him the vicious barbarian who's hardly a stranger to unconsented sex--and she the girl who's lived a life of seclusion under her brother's thumb and has no experience with people, let alone boys--would surely have a large portion of the readership putting the book down.

Funnily enough, the very next scene 200 pages later has him banging her doggy style in the tent every night, despite the fact it's causing her pain due to her snow white buttocks being riddled with bright red saddle sores. Can he not see this? Where's the loving husband who asked for her permission for sex gone? Yet by the end of that chapter she's getting tips from her handmaidens on how to best please him so that he calls her name in his orgasm... because she wants to get pregnant.

You know, I've read lots of stories of teenage pregnancies, but have yet to see one where it happened because the girl decided she wanted to give birth and raise a child. I doubt very much that was different in medieval times. Who exactly taught Daenerys how babies were made? Her loving brother? Again, to me this feels like a dumb consent added just to make her pregnancy tolerable, because if she'd ended up so accidentally from all those rapings--sorry, marital relations--most readers would be outraged. As a writer, what I'm learning here is that I should create graphic scenes that will shock my readers so long as I bullshit them off as being something my characters want.

Going further still, she never actually has the baby because she suffers, in every sense of the term, a miscarriage. And all this is done so her breasts are loaded with milk for a pair of dragons to suckle on. Dragons: definition - giant snake. Mythical they may be, but surely they're still reptiles--it's why they lay external eggs--and reptiles don't suckle. Is this why people frown on public breast-feeding? Because the moment a milky mammary's pulled out every creature in the neighbourhood is going to try and latch on for a feast? I get this is done only to give the sense that she's their mother, but surely there's a ton of better ways you could do this.

Being a wannabe writer I break this plot down as: 13 year old girl is sold as a sex slave, forced to engage in intercourse against her wishes, gets pregnant, and then has a miscarriage just so dragons can appear to be her children. And she never deals with any of these serious themes she's put through. This being one of the greatest fantasy's of the modern age, is this the sort of stuff I'm to aspire to recreate as a budding fantasty writer? Is this really what the fantasy target audience really wants? Because it feels off to me.

Morals aside, as someone who aims for believable characters in my own writing I find it shocking that Daenerys can even stand by the end of her tale, especially when you plug in a traumatic euthanasia scene as well. I don't get how after all she's been through, her primary motivation is making  bid for a throne she knows nothing about other than how it was her brother's ambition to take--an ambition which was the root cause of all the suffering she's endured--a brother who she's already outright rejected when she turned her back on him to let him die.

And what about Viserys? This is a man who is willing to throw his only remaining family member--let alone future wife were he to follow in his family traditions--to wolves for an army that, even someone with zero military sense can see, doesn't have a chance in hell of accomplishing his goals. He lived in this keep till he was nine, right? He knows it has a fleet of battleships in its port--the battleships we were shown from Catelyn. How does he think an army of cavalry can hope to challenge them? And even if they did, what then? Are they just going to sit on his doorstep protecting him from the very people who rejected his families rule by murdering them? Where are the people who raised these children after their mother died in childbirth? Why are they happy to see this power-blinded boy commit suicide and also doom his sister in the process? As far as I can tell this goes unanswered.

Then there's the other side. Right from the get-go we have the scene where Bran catches Cersei and Jaime in their incest. For the record I have no problem with incest, I actually find it an interesting theme, but seeing this scene here is like reading a murder mystery where you're shown the murderer commit the deed in the opening chapter. Knowing Jaime pushed Bran sucks all the suspense out of the first half of the book, because we're not putting the pieces together ourselves but observing Catelyn muddle through to learn what we already know. And why does it even happen?

This is an official meeting where the King is uniting his family with another wealthy noble's, and Jaime's tagged along for the ride--the heir to the second most powerful family in the country. Here we have three factions with three sets of guards, each of which must know that should something happen to any one of these powerful people then shit will hit the fan. So how does Cersei and Jaime manage to sneak off into a deserted tower for a shag without anyone noticing? I can get them slipping away for a brief discussion, but sex? These are supposedly the smart characters in the story. They must know that if their secret is found out they stand to lose everything. The stupid thing is that this is a plot twist that's only relevant 600 odd pages later, so why not learn it then in a natural fashion as the climax it should be?

And what about Catelyn. When we should have been getting introduced to King's Landing from the eyes of Eddard Stark of which it was about to become his prison, instead we're witnessing it from his wife who, quite frankly, has no purpose being down there. She's immediately picked up by her former admirer, who just so happens to be the one in a billion people who owned the dagger used in an assassination attempt on her comatosed son's life--an attempt that, as a devoted mother, she risked her own life in order to prevent. Yet after learning the dagger was in possession of one who's currently still in her country on some unexplained tourist trip to a border outpost that even the soldiers who work there don't want be, she's content to sit in a whorehouse before pleading her case to stay by her husband's side... What? Where's the mother gone?

Even the whorehouse falls apart for me. The dramatic scene of Eddard carefully treading across a near invisible cliff path because Littlefinger needs to keep it a secret. Isn't this a country where the King was mourning the loss of times when he could ride around drinking and whoring, a country where everyone knows one of it's lords has a bastard child that his wife is raising. Are the people really going to care that a man who is little more than a businessman owns a brothel? Do they not drink in this place? Won't the citizenry wonder why wealthy entrepreneurs are floating up dead on their docks with their pants around their ankles? This is what I analyse as a writer when looking at scenes for believability so that suspension of disbelief isn't broken.

As for Catelyn's journey back, she bumps into would-be assassin Tirion in an inn. She's undercover because she doesn't want to be recognised. He's there because he rejected an offer to stay at Winterfell so he could find a hooker. So which is it? Has Tirion travelled for days to discover a lady of the night, or has Catelyn stopped a mere hour from her keep despite not wanting to be seen by her people? Yet this gaping plot hole could have easily been avoided had Tirion just accepted Robb's offer and been put up in a bed near to Bran's room, only for a travel weary Catelyn to return home and bump into him. The sort of emotional explosion in that scene is surely a literary goldmine to explore.

So yea, this is what I see when reading books now. Trying to write has ruined the experience for sure. But maybe I'm just reading it all wrong. I am the amateur here after all. So if someone could take the time to help show me where that is I'd really, really appreciate it.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 04:42:09 AM by D_Bates »
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Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Offline JMack

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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2015, 05:02:48 AM »
@D_Bates, that's a really interesting analysis. To be honest, I'd just kind of accepted it all. In another post, we talked about plot where this happens then that happens, as opposed to ones where this happens because that happened. Among other objections you raise, I think that's the critical one you're pointing out. Things happen as servants of the plot, not as outcomes based on the circumstances and the characters.

One small point, is about the dragons breast feeding. This is magic after all. She is mother of dragons, and the dragons have a relationship with the Targaryens and with Danaerys. Doesn't bother me.

I do remember at the time thinking that it made no sense about the Dothraki wedding. But I think I and a lot of folks are so captivated by the imagination at work and by the radical shift in content and style from other fantasies, that we allowed much of the weaknesses to slip past unnoticed.


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You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline Rostum

Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2015, 02:33:18 PM »
Quote
@Rostum - I don't doubt Daenerys' age isn't accidental, but you can't compare this to Romeo and Juliet. Their motivations were based on love, not sex or building families, and Daenerys' marriage isn't in any way the same as that of Sansa and Joffrey's--which was done absolutely right. At anyrate, I don't want to derail this thread so I'll add my further thoughts in spoilers. Read if you care and by all means point out where I'm wrong, but I'm not looking to get into a rage war. I'm just looking for advice on where I'm going wrong with my analysis.

Firstly No risk of a rage war with me over anything said here. I am forthright in my views but am on no mission to convince anyone I am right and am more likely to be interested in a well made arguement than enraged by it.

GMMR has been quite forthright about Daenerys age in interviews. I believe he was showing the character as young, alone and surrounded by those who would manipulate her for their own ends. The interesting part of the storyline is how she overcomes this.

I believe I did compare R&J to GOT but only in the sense that they both feature child brides and that the context is correct for the stories being told.
Romeo and Juliet's motivation was childish folly and a desire to rebel against their families wishes and obligations. At the start of the play Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline (J's cousin)who we hear no more about as soon as he claps eyes on Juliet and had he lived I suspect he would have fallen for someone else the following week. if anything Shakespeare is showing us that young fickle and foolish and that his characters are in love with the idea of being in love.

Spoiler for Hiden:
As I understand it, child marriages were to unite wealthy families/countries in a bond of peace. I don't think people in medieval times were marrying their children at early teens and throwing them out the door to raise a family together. Though we may be more technologically advanced we're still the same creatures. This was a ritual, not a way of life. Yep they pretty much were life expectancy was lower and death was often sudden. Girls were often married shortly after their periods started and the dowry given by the brides family is to support their daughter in the event her husband died. The husbands family was supposed to invest this money to ensure it did. It was not unusual for a girl to be a mother several times over and a widow before she was 20

I don't get why Drogo is even getting married. Is there any sign the Dothraki tribe believes in marriage through all their rape and pillaging--not to mention ceremonies where they do blood sports for the right to mate? And if so, why has Drogo--alpha male of alpha males that he is--not got a string of wives already?Possibly because he wants a legitimate heir and the chance to aquire his wifes contested lands. That would be the medieval reasoning. I have no idea on the Dothraki customs

Surely Daenerys is but a piece of white meat tribute to him? As a writer analysing plot, all I see is a sham of a marriage which exists only to make what happens to her tolerable in most peoples eyes. Exactly the same reason she's consenting to sex on their honeymoon night, because the violent rape that should have happened were she and Drogo true to their characters--him the vicious barbarian who's hardly a stranger to unconsented sex--and she the girl who's lived a life of seclusion under her brother's thumb and has no experience with people, let alone boys--would surely have a large portion of the readership putting the book down.I do not believe Genghis Khan would have raped Borte or of his wives, many of whom were the daughters of his allies. And woe betide any who harmed any of his Khanate. Being tribal is making a distinction between what and whom matter to you and everything else. Being a barbarian is a state of mind. According to the Japanese everyone else a Barbarian which leaves a lot of diverse cultures not following the true path.

Funnily enough, the very next scene 200 pages later has him banging her doggy style in the tent every night, despite the fact it's causing her pain due to her snow white buttocks being riddled with bright red saddle sores. Can he not see this? Where's the loving husband who asked for her permission for sex gone? Yet by the end of that chapter she's getting tips from her handmaidens on how to best please him so that he calls her name in his orgasm... because she wants to get pregnant.So he takes his wife without any thought for her comfort or enjoyment or consideration for saddle sores an ailment the Dothraki probably wouldn't comprehend

You know, I've read lots of stories of teenage pregnancies, but have yet to see one where it happened because the girl decided she wanted to give birth and raise a child. I doubt very much that was different in medieval times. Who exactly taught Daenerys how babies were made? Her loving brother? Again, to me this feels like a dumb consent added just to make her pregnancy tolerable, because if she'd ended up so accidentally from all those rapings--sorry, marital relations--most readers would be outraged. As a writer, what I'm learning here is that I should create graphic scenes that will shock my readers so long as I bullshit them off as being something my characters want. The purpose of marriage is to procreate. The heart of all religions is you perform this ritual of marriage to procreate within the rules of the church and in return we support your heir. Daenerys may not have been in a position to refuse sex as are an enormous number of women right now in the real world within marraige. Even now the first duty of a Queen is to ensure the succession, strange word it's where success comes from. It goes with the job it's not a lifestyle choice. You are writing a lot of words from a 21st centuary earth perspective and not immersing yourself in the time and place GRRM is making for you. If it offends your sensibilities read something else

Going further still, she never actually has the baby because she suffers, in every sense of the term, a miscarriage. And all this is done so her breasts are loaded with milk for a pair of dragons to suckle on. Dragons: definition - giant snake. Mythical they may be, but surely they're still reptiles--it's why they lay external eggs--and reptiles don't suckle. Is this why people frown on public breast-feeding? Because the moment a milky mammary's pulled out every creature in the neighbourhood is going to try and latch on for a feast? I get this is done only to give the sense that she's their mother, but surely there's a ton of better ways you could do this.
Correct Mammals produce milk and the really odd ones like the duck billed platypus lays eggs, but aside from that milk has a really good mix of fat and protien and antibodies to make babies grow. Can you nurture a mythical creature on human breastmilk...YUP in GRRm's world you can.

Being a wannabe writer I break this plot down as: 13 year old girl is sold as a sex slave, forced to engage in intercourse against her wishes, gets pregnant, and then has a miscarriage just so dragons can appear to be her children. And she never deals with any of these serious themes she's put through. This being one of the greatest fantasy's of the modern age, is this the sort of stuff I'm to aspire to recreate as a budding fantasty writer? Is this really what the fantasy target audience really wants? Because it feels off to me. So if GOT doesn't work for you thats fine do your own thing

Morals aside, as someone who aims for believable characters in my own writing I find it shocking that Daenerys can even stand by the end of her tale, especially when you plug in a traumatic euthanasia scene as well. I don't get how after all she's been through, her primary motivation is making  bid for a throne she knows nothing about other than how it was her brother's ambition to take--an ambition which was the root cause of all the suffering she's endured--a brother who she's already outright rejected when she turned her back on him to let him die.So GRRM fails at supsension of disbelief for you if half way through all her trauma Daenerys said "I have had enough now" what would change in the story? she has no control of most of what befell her.

And what about Viserys? This is a man who is willing to throw his only remaining family member--let alone future wife were he to follow in his family traditions--to wolves for an army that, even someone with zero military sense can see, doesn't have a chance in hell of accomplishing his goals. He lived in this keep till he was nine, right? He knows it has a fleet of battleships in its port--the battleships we were shown from Catelyn. How does he think an army of cavalry can hope to challenge them? And even if they did, what then? Are they just going to sit on his doorstep protecting him from the very people who rejected his families rule by murdering them? Where are the people who raised these children after their mother died in childbirth? Why are they happy to see this power-blinded boy commit suicide and also doom his sister in the process? As far as I can tell this goes unanswered.Viserys is an arrogent sadistic fool who has no concept of what he is doing. Right up to the point he is stupid enough to get himself killed. I rather like the character. He is desperate enough to trade away his sister for an army. Which is more than he had before living on charity and his name. Write your charactors as you want them but faults maketh the man

Then there's the other side. Right from the get-go we have the scene where Bran catches Cersei and Jaime in their incest. For the record I have no problem with incest, I actually find it an interesting theme, but seeing this scene here is like reading a murder mystery where you're shown the murderer commit the deed in the opening chapter. Knowing Jaime pushed Bran sucks all the suspense out of the first half of the book, because we're not putting the pieces together ourselves but observing Catelyn muddle through to learn what we already know. And why does it even happen?Again GRRM wrote it the way he chose, turning it into a murder mystery was not his intention, but it sets Bran in his story very nicely

This is an official meeting where the King is uniting his family with another wealthy noble's, and Jaime's tagged along for the ride--the heir to the second most powerful family in the country. Here we have three factions with three sets of guards, each of which must know that should something happen to any one of these powerful people then shit will hit the fan. So how does Cersei and Jaime manage to sneak off into a deserted tower for a shag without anyone noticing? I can get them slipping away for a brief discussion, but sex? These are supposedly the smart characters in the story. They must know that if their secret is found out they stand to lose everything. The stupid thing is that this is a plot twist that's only relevant 600 odd pages later, so why not learn it then in a natural fashion as the climax it should be?Never had an illicit quickie then? A deserted tower sound a lot handier than a bathroom  or broom cupboard

And what about Catelyn. When we should have been getting introduced to King's Landing from the eyes of Eddard Stark of which it was about to become his prison, instead we're witnessing it from his wife who, quite frankly, has no purpose being down there. She's immediately picked up by her former admirer, who just so happens to be the one in a billion people who owned the dagger used in an assassination attempt on her comatosed son's life--an attempt that, as a devoted mother, she risked her own life in order to prevent. Yet after learning the dagger was in possession of one who's currently still in her country on some unexplained tourist trip to a border outpost that even the soldiers who work there don't want be, she's content to sit in a whorehouse before pleading her case to stay by her husband's side... What? Where's the mother gone?

Even the whorehouse falls apart for me. The dramatic scene of Eddard carefully treading across a near invisible cliff path because Littlefinger needs to keep it a secret. Isn't this a country where the King was mourning the loss of times when he could ride around drinking and whoring, a country where everyone knows one of it's lords has a bastard child that his wife is raising. Are the people really going to care that a man who is little more than a businessman owns a brothel? Do they not drink in this place? Won't the citizenry wonder why wealthy entrepreneurs are floating up dead on their docks with their pants around their ankles? This is what I analyse as a writer when looking at scenes for believability so that suspension of disbelief isn't broken.

As for Catelyn's journey back, she bumps into would-be assassin Tirion in an inn. She's undercover because she doesn't want to be recognised. He's there because he rejected an offer to stay at Winterfell so he could find a hooker. So which is it? Has Tirion travelled for days to discover a lady of the night, or has Catelyn stopped a mere hour from her keep despite not wanting to be seen by her people? Yet this gaping plot hole could have easily been avoided had Tirion just accepted Robb's offer and been put up in a bed near to Bran's room, only for a travel weary Catelyn to return home and bump into him. The sort of emotional explosion in that scene is surely a literary goldmine to explore.

So yea, this is what I see when reading books now. Trying to write has ruined the experience for sure. But maybe I'm just reading it all wrong. I am the amateur here after all. So if someone could take the time to help show me where that is I'd really, really appreciate it.
I really am sorry you take no enjoyment from Game of Thrones which I found a rollercoaster of a book. I look forward to seeing the characters and worlds you create. The joy of Ice and Fire was for me the flawed characters and no good guys approach it is a nasty place to live and die and the books are bleak. Reading the later one is hard going but I eagerly await Winds of Winter.

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2015, 03:57:20 AM »
Quote
@Rostum - I don't doubt Daenerys' age isn't accidental, but you can't compare this to Romeo and Juliet. Their motivations were based on love, not sex or building families, and Daenerys' marriage isn't in any way the same as that of Sansa and Joffrey's--which was done absolutely right. At anyrate, I don't want to derail this thread so I'll add my further thoughts in spoilers. Read if you care and by all means point out where I'm wrong, but I'm not looking to get into a rage war. I'm just looking for advice on where I'm going wrong with my analysis.

Firstly No risk of a rage war with me over anything said here. I am forthright in my views but am on no mission to convince anyone I am right and am more likely to be interested in a well made arguement than enraged by it.

GMMR has been quite forthright about Daenerys age in interviews. I believe he was showing the character as young, alone and surrounded by those who would manipulate her for their own ends. The interesting part of the storyline is how she overcomes this.

I believe I did compare R&J to GOT but only in the sense that they both feature child brides and that the context is correct for the stories being told.
Romeo and Juliet's motivation was childish folly and a desire to rebel against their families wishes and obligations. At the start of the play Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline (J's cousin)who we hear no more about as soon as he claps eyes on Juliet and had he lived I suspect he would have fallen for someone else the following week. if anything Shakespeare is showing us that young fickle and foolish and that his characters are in love with the idea of being in love.

Spoiler for Hiden:
As I understand it, child marriages were to unite wealthy families/countries in a bond of peace. I don't think people in medieval times were marrying their children at early teens and throwing them out the door to raise a family together. Though we may be more technologically advanced we're still the same creatures. This was a ritual, not a way of life. Yep they pretty much were life expectancy was lower and death was often sudden. Girls were often married shortly after their periods started and the dowry given by the brides family is to support their daughter in the event her husband died. The husbands family was supposed to invest this money to ensure it did. It was not unusual for a girl to be a mother several times over and a widow before she was 20

I don't get why Drogo is even getting married. Is there any sign the Dothraki tribe believes in marriage through all their rape and pillaging--not to mention ceremonies where they do blood sports for the right to mate? And if so, why has Drogo--alpha male of alpha males that he is--not got a string of wives already?Possibly because he wants a legitimate heir and the chance to aquire his wifes contested lands. That would be the medieval reasoning. I have no idea on the Dothraki customs

Surely Daenerys is but a piece of white meat tribute to him? As a writer analysing plot, all I see is a sham of a marriage which exists only to make what happens to her tolerable in most peoples eyes. Exactly the same reason she's consenting to sex on their honeymoon night, because the violent rape that should have happened were she and Drogo true to their characters--him the vicious barbarian who's hardly a stranger to unconsented sex--and she the girl who's lived a life of seclusion under her brother's thumb and has no experience with people, let alone boys--would surely have a large portion of the readership putting the book down.I do not believe Genghis Khan would have raped Borte or of his wives, many of whom were the daughters of his allies. And woe betide any who harmed any of his Khanate. Being tribal is making a distinction between what and whom matter to you and everything else. Being a barbarian is a state of mind. According to the Japanese everyone else a Barbarian which leaves a lot of diverse cultures not following the true path.

Funnily enough, the very next scene 200 pages later has him banging her doggy style in the tent every night, despite the fact it's causing her pain due to her snow white buttocks being riddled with bright red saddle sores. Can he not see this? Where's the loving husband who asked for her permission for sex gone? Yet by the end of that chapter she's getting tips from her handmaidens on how to best please him so that he calls her name in his orgasm... because she wants to get pregnant.So he takes his wife without any thought for her comfort or enjoyment or consideration for saddle sores an ailment the Dothraki probably wouldn't comprehend

You know, I've read lots of stories of teenage pregnancies, but have yet to see one where it happened because the girl decided she wanted to give birth and raise a child. I doubt very much that was different in medieval times. Who exactly taught Daenerys how babies were made? Her loving brother? Again, to me this feels like a dumb consent added just to make her pregnancy tolerable, because if she'd ended up so accidentally from all those rapings--sorry, marital relations--most readers would be outraged. As a writer, what I'm learning here is that I should create graphic scenes that will shock my readers so long as I bullshit them off as being something my characters want. The purpose of marriage is to procreate. The heart of all religions is you perform this ritual of marriage to procreate within the rules of the church and in return we support your heir. Daenerys may not have been in a position to refuse sex as are an enormous number of women right now in the real world within marraige. Even now the first duty of a Queen is to ensure the succession, strange word it's where success comes from. It goes with the job it's not a lifestyle choice. You are writing a lot of words from a 21st centuary earth perspective and not immersing yourself in the time and place GRRM is making for you. If it offends your sensibilities read something else

Going further still, she never actually has the baby because she suffers, in every sense of the term, a miscarriage. And all this is done so her breasts are loaded with milk for a pair of dragons to suckle on. Dragons: definition - giant snake. Mythical they may be, but surely they're still reptiles--it's why they lay external eggs--and reptiles don't suckle. Is this why people frown on public breast-feeding? Because the moment a milky mammary's pulled out every creature in the neighbourhood is going to try and latch on for a feast? I get this is done only to give the sense that she's their mother, but surely there's a ton of better ways you could do this.
Correct Mammals produce milk and the really odd ones like the duck billed platypus lays eggs, but aside from that milk has a really good mix of fat and protien and antibodies to make babies grow. Can you nurture a mythical creature on human breastmilk...YUP in GRRm's world you can.

Being a wannabe writer I break this plot down as: 13 year old girl is sold as a sex slave, forced to engage in intercourse against her wishes, gets pregnant, and then has a miscarriage just so dragons can appear to be her children. And she never deals with any of these serious themes she's put through. This being one of the greatest fantasy's of the modern age, is this the sort of stuff I'm to aspire to recreate as a budding fantasty writer? Is this really what the fantasy target audience really wants? Because it feels off to me. So if GOT doesn't work for you thats fine do your own thing

Morals aside, as someone who aims for believable characters in my own writing I find it shocking that Daenerys can even stand by the end of her tale, especially when you plug in a traumatic euthanasia scene as well. I don't get how after all she's been through, her primary motivation is making  bid for a throne she knows nothing about other than how it was her brother's ambition to take--an ambition which was the root cause of all the suffering she's endured--a brother who she's already outright rejected when she turned her back on him to let him die.So GRRM fails at supsension of disbelief for you if half way through all her trauma Daenerys said "I have had enough now" what would change in the story? she has no control of most of what befell her.

And what about Viserys? This is a man who is willing to throw his only remaining family member--let alone future wife were he to follow in his family traditions--to wolves for an army that, even someone with zero military sense can see, doesn't have a chance in hell of accomplishing his goals. He lived in this keep till he was nine, right? He knows it has a fleet of battleships in its port--the battleships we were shown from Catelyn. How does he think an army of cavalry can hope to challenge them? And even if they did, what then? Are they just going to sit on his doorstep protecting him from the very people who rejected his families rule by murdering them? Where are the people who raised these children after their mother died in childbirth? Why are they happy to see this power-blinded boy commit suicide and also doom his sister in the process? As far as I can tell this goes unanswered.Viserys is an arrogent sadistic fool who has no concept of what he is doing. Right up to the point he is stupid enough to get himself killed. I rather like the character. He is desperate enough to trade away his sister for an army. Which is more than he had before living on charity and his name. Write your charactors as you want them but faults maketh the man

Then there's the other side. Right from the get-go we have the scene where Bran catches Cersei and Jaime in their incest. For the record I have no problem with incest, I actually find it an interesting theme, but seeing this scene here is like reading a murder mystery where you're shown the murderer commit the deed in the opening chapter. Knowing Jaime pushed Bran sucks all the suspense out of the first half of the book, because we're not putting the pieces together ourselves but observing Catelyn muddle through to learn what we already know. And why does it even happen?Again GRRM wrote it the way he chose, turning it into a murder mystery was not his intention, but it sets Bran in his story very nicely

This is an official meeting where the King is uniting his family with another wealthy noble's, and Jaime's tagged along for the ride--the heir to the second most powerful family in the country. Here we have three factions with three sets of guards, each of which must know that should something happen to any one of these powerful people then shit will hit the fan. So how does Cersei and Jaime manage to sneak off into a deserted tower for a shag without anyone noticing? I can get them slipping away for a brief discussion, but sex? These are supposedly the smart characters in the story. They must know that if their secret is found out they stand to lose everything. The stupid thing is that this is a plot twist that's only relevant 600 odd pages later, so why not learn it then in a natural fashion as the climax it should be?Never had an illicit quickie then? A deserted tower sound a lot handier than a bathroom  or broom cupboard

And what about Catelyn. When we should have been getting introduced to King's Landing from the eyes of Eddard Stark of which it was about to become his prison, instead we're witnessing it from his wife who, quite frankly, has no purpose being down there. She's immediately picked up by her former admirer, who just so happens to be the one in a billion people who owned the dagger used in an assassination attempt on her comatosed son's life--an attempt that, as a devoted mother, she risked her own life in order to prevent. Yet after learning the dagger was in possession of one who's currently still in her country on some unexplained tourist trip to a border outpost that even the soldiers who work there don't want be, she's content to sit in a whorehouse before pleading her case to stay by her husband's side... What? Where's the mother gone?

Even the whorehouse falls apart for me. The dramatic scene of Eddard carefully treading across a near invisible cliff path because Littlefinger needs to keep it a secret. Isn't this a country where the King was mourning the loss of times when he could ride around drinking and whoring, a country where everyone knows one of it's lords has a bastard child that his wife is raising. Are the people really going to care that a man who is little more than a businessman owns a brothel? Do they not drink in this place? Won't the citizenry wonder why wealthy entrepreneurs are floating up dead on their docks with their pants around their ankles? This is what I analyse as a writer when looking at scenes for believability so that suspension of disbelief isn't broken.

As for Catelyn's journey back, she bumps into would-be assassin Tirion in an inn. She's undercover because she doesn't want to be recognised. He's there because he rejected an offer to stay at Winterfell so he could find a hooker. So which is it? Has Tirion travelled for days to discover a lady of the night, or has Catelyn stopped a mere hour from her keep despite not wanting to be seen by her people? Yet this gaping plot hole could have easily been avoided had Tirion just accepted Robb's offer and been put up in a bed near to Bran's room, only for a travel weary Catelyn to return home and bump into him. The sort of emotional explosion in that scene is surely a literary goldmine to explore.

So yea, this is what I see when reading books now. Trying to write has ruined the experience for sure. But maybe I'm just reading it all wrong. I am the amateur here after all. So if someone could take the time to help show me where that is I'd really, really appreciate it.
I really am sorry you take no enjoyment from Game of Thrones which I found a rollercoaster of a book. I look forward to seeing the characters and worlds you create. The joy of Ice and Fire was for me the flawed characters and no good guys approach it is a nasty place to live and die and the books are bleak. Reading the later one is hard going but I eagerly await Winds of Winter.
I agree with what @Rostum said, so I'll just add on to it.
Spoiler for Hiden:
As far as Jaime and Cersei slipping away to have sex, keep in mind that although it's not the smart thing to do, we as humans often do stupid things to satisfy our passions.
Also, some of Catelyn's children are in King's Landing as well. In fact, two daughters and her husband are there, verses the one son at Winterfell. While wanting to stay by her husband's side, she's also wanting to be with her children. I think she's aware of the challenges Ned is facing as well. She knows things could change.
As far as Tyrion goes, yes. He quite often gets himself in trouble over a whore. That's just how he is. Catelyn let her guard down. It's easy to think the character made a stupid choice that never would've happened in reality, but as a reader, you're looking into her life from an outside perspective. With all the other stuff on her mind, she made a mistake. In the end, it shows that she's human.

Offline Timothy L. Cerepaka

Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2015, 05:41:50 PM »
For me it's not about looking at what writers do so that I can copy the bits that make them successful, it's about looking at which bits do and don't work for me. It's more a way of defining what I enjoy than working out what causes success. Those will often be the same thing, but that's not always going to be the case. Then the knowledge of what types of writing appeal to me (or don't appeal) can inform the way I write. Because it's about what I think of the book, I'd never end up writing something like Twilight just because it'd sell - I'd always be writing something that I would love to read.

For example I'm currently reading The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron, and while I'm enjoying it I've noticed that the beginnings of some chapters are sticking points for me. The problem chapters are the ones that begin in omniscient before shifting to limited third person. That technique isn't an issue in most cases, but the way Aaron writes omniscient doesn't work for me. She uses way too many commas, to the point where the sentences are almost illegible for me. A couple of examples from book 2 chapters 1 and 7:

Quote
But highest of all, towering over even the famous seven battlements of Whitefall Citadel, home of the Merchant Princes of Zarin and the revolutionary body they had founded, the Council of Thrones, stood the soaring white spire of the Spirit Court.

Quote
There, perched like a coral on a jut of bare rock, stood the Whitefall Citadel, fortress of the Whitefall family, the Merchant Princes of Zarin, and official home of the unprecedented organization they had founded, the Council of Thrones.

What I've gained from this is that while I like the cinematic swoop from omniscient to third limited, it's not a good place to try to work in some worldbuilding - and that too many commas can make for a painful reading experience. While I was aware of those things before, reading something that breaks those rules unsuccessfully makes it much clearer to me somehow.

I don't see anything wrong with those two sentences. Perhaps we just have different tastes in that area.

Anyway, I read for pleasure first and then go back and reread the book with a more critical eye if there is something in it that I enjoy. Though lately I haven't reread any of my favorite books, so I think I will do that once I finish the book I am currently reading.
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Re: Do you read like a writer?
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2015, 10:07:34 PM »
For me it's not about looking at what writers do so that I can copy the bits that make them successful, it's about looking at which bits do and don't work for me. It's more a way of defining what I enjoy than working out what causes success. Those will often be the same thing, but that's not always going to be the case. Then the knowledge of what types of writing appeal to me (or don't appeal) can inform the way I write. Because it's about what I think of the book, I'd never end up writing something like Twilight just because it'd sell - I'd always be writing something that I would love to read.

For example I'm currently reading The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron, and while I'm enjoying it I've noticed that the beginnings of some chapters are sticking points for me. The problem chapters are the ones that begin in omniscient before shifting to limited third person. That technique isn't an issue in most cases, but the way Aaron writes omniscient doesn't work for me. She uses way too many commas, to the point where the sentences are almost illegible for me. A couple of examples from book 2 chapters 1 and 7:

Quote
But highest of all, towering over even the famous seven battlements of Whitefall Citadel, home of the Merchant Princes of Zarin and the revolutionary body they had founded, the Council of Thrones, stood the soaring white spire of the Spirit Court.

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There, perched like a coral on a jut of bare rock, stood the Whitefall Citadel, fortress of the Whitefall family, the Merchant Princes of Zarin, and official home of the unprecedented organization they had founded, the Council of Thrones.

What I've gained from this is that while I like the cinematic swoop from omniscient to third limited, it's not a good place to try to work in some worldbuilding - and that too many commas can make for a painful reading experience. While I was aware of those things before, reading something that breaks those rules unsuccessfully makes it much clearer to me somehow.

I don't see anything wrong with those two sentences. Perhaps we just have different tastes in that area.

Anyway, I read for pleasure first and then go back and reread the book with a more critical eye if there is something in it that I enjoy. Though lately I haven't reread any of my favorite books, so I think I will do that once I finish the book I am currently reading.
Yeah it's probably a taste thing, but to me they're incredibly choppy. They're being used as parenthetical elements, which is fine, but then within the aside there are even more which makes for uncomfortable reading. This is what the sentences feel like to me:

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But highest of all, towering over even the famous seven battlements of Whitefall Citadel (home of the Merchant Princes of Zarin and the revolutionary body they had founded (the Council of Thrones)) stood the soaring white spire of the Spirit Court.
In this case, that double )) is the point that snags me - a single comma used to break out of two asides to return to the original point.

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There, perched like a coral on a jut of bare rock, stood the Whitefall Citadel (fortress of the Whitefall family (the Merchant Princes of Zarin) and official home of the unprecedented organization they had founded (the Council of Thrones)).
This would read a lot better to me if it had been separated into two sentences, split at the first bracket. With commas it's not clear whether you've returned to the original thread of the sentence or not, and in this case it just really didn't work for me.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.