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Author Topic: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?  (Read 4222 times)

Offline DrNefario

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2016, 01:48:19 PM »
What's with all the thread necromancy?

Offline Eclipse

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Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2016, 01:54:31 PM »
If its still good then there's no problem with it don't be scared to post in old threads. We had four K J Parker threads at one time that was confusing because people didn't want to reply to old threads.
I'm Saloninus, by the way. And I tell lies, from time to time. Which goes to prove the old rule; never entirely trust a man who talks about himself in the third person.

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Offline night_wrtr

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2016, 02:06:53 PM »
Favorite things from my favorite book:
A wide range of well defined characters with different personalities that are all overlapping in their scenes, so the story rarely goes far from the main action.
Magic
Interacting Gods
Plenty of fight scenes between heroes
High stakes

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2016, 05:30:52 PM »
Let's see.

The plot twists take the cake. The bigger and more shocking the plot twist, the better the book.

Action. There doesn't have to be a lot, but at least some.

When the reader knows something the current pov character doesn't. When done right, like in The Light Bringer Series, this plays out beautifully.

Secrets and mystery. If a book can keep me intrigued, I'm in. Secrets about a character's past will work the best. Or if I'm so invested that I have to see how something will turn out because it's a puzzle.

High personal stakes for each character. It's not enough for the world to be in danger. It's not enough that the character could die, although that's certainly important. How will each decision affect them as a person? What harm or glory will it bring to them? What's their motivation to help, besides the fact that the world will end?

Complex magic systems. I just love these so much. They intrigue me because there's always something new to learn, and I can put myself in the character's head and try to figure out how he can win a fight. I just love it!

Gray. I love when both options aren't good or evil, but somewhere in between. And when two characters fight on opposite sides, that's always nice.

Big Monsters. Whether it be a dragon, demons, something even more ferocious, monsters make for extremely fun scenes, no matter which side they're fighting for.

I think that about covers it. I just realized this would also make for a really good recommendation guide for people to use. I'll have to copy and paste this.

Online The Gem Cutter

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Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2016, 05:25:57 AM »
The mix varies by book, but three things bring me back, time and again, to my favorite books.

Yes, characters are on my list, but by themselves, they're static to me - I like the idea of Aragorn, but it's his actions and statements, his CONTEXT that was most important to me (and most tragic in the movies that not only skipped this, but contradicted it!): he traveled and labored for years to understand the peoples he would one day rule; he studied the enemy and his enemy's allies; he learned the lands and the places where the war would play out; and he developed wisdom, character, and his will along the way.

The next most delicious thing is what Sophia Loren described as "moments" when asked what made great films great. This is where my heart lies, and although characters are a critical element, it is the confrontations, the epiphanies, the unexpected revelations and reversals that catch my heart as I go to sleep. My short list of "moments" includes: Paul Atreides confronting the Emperor in Dune; Cnaiur's battle scenes throughout the Prince of Nothing series; Faramir talking to Frodo about his brother and the temptations "from which a man must flee"; Gandalf facing the Balrog; Pippin looking up at Gandalf and wondering when he came into the world, and when he would leave it; and the necessary but costly duel in the film The 13th Warrior.

A small, rare sub-category of "moments" includes authorial comments and asides that ring true (sometimes, but not always in the guise of dialogue) and that make a text memorable and worthy of a second reading: Card's comments on the way command structures restrict and limit the organization from embracing the best commanders in Ender's Game; Dune's Duke Leto's comments about how societies become corrupt, and his sons many insights into the needs of humanity at large; and in the Wizard's First Rule - "People are stupid and will believe what you tell them, especially if they're afraid that it's true, or want it to be true." (I have found that when these two factors overlap, the lie is even more powerful)

The last thing is the most diaphanous - at best drifting through the text like the perfume of a book's previous owner, at worst, absent altogether. It is language that moves me in ways I cannot fully describe. Metaphors, analogies, and all the other devices, and the power of simple words, whether they are describing Bakker's glittering geometries of light, or Merry's quiet resolve that Eowyn should not die so fair, so desperate, or at least, not die alone.

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Offline Jmack

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Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2016, 10:57:30 AM »
Just reading what @ultamentkiller and @The_Gem_Cutter say above, I hesitate to even try to answer this... For someone who does analysis as a career, I'm not that good at some kinds of things. Or at least, I haven't thought that deeply about them. (Which is pretty lame, in this case, for someone who wants to become a better writer.)

But here are a few things I love. Since the OP is about my "favorite story", I have to go to JRRT for much of it.

> Suspense. I love a book where I have to cover the right-hand facing page with my hand because my eyes will stray over there. The anticipation is just that great. I have to say, I get this more frm spy novels and the like than from Fantasy. But there was some of this in early books of ASOIAF, I think. And from LOTR, you get the scene where the hobbits are hiding from the Nazgul.

> Wonder. LOTR has this more than almost any book I can think of. JRRT imbues everything with this, from the smallest twig to the greatest monument, and from the tinest moment to to the grandest battle. But for non-LOTR fans, read The City of Blades.

> Real heroes. By which I mean heroes who are really heroes and real in their heroism. They struggle, they fail, they screw up, they succeed at terrible cost. Logan Ninefingers, Paksennarion, Taran Wanderer, Miles Vorkosigan, Jon Snow (of the book), Frodo, Sam.

> Surprises/Twists. The litany of dead POV characters in ASOIAF, Gandalf at the Bridge. In some cases, this comes like lightning. In other cases, as slow development: A Crown for Cold Silver just keeps making you say "What?!" (It's not a favorite story, but it has great moments.)

> Delight. The entirety of The Copper Promise :), Merry and Pippin, Tom Bombadil (yes, I'm a fan), Hogwarts

> Rich side stories. In Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series, half the books are a sort of side story to the main epic thread. LOTR is a tapestry of side stories and lovely details.

> Language. I'm with TGC on this one. Lovely, lovely language - by which I don't just mean beautiful. LOTR has it, and Abercrombie has it. Lawrence has it, and Susanna Clark has it.

I'm sure there's more. Every book is different with different delights. It certainly comes down to characters, but I could read The Woman on the Train for characters. In Fantasy, it's the wonder, dread, fascination, and sheer stakes into which we drop these characters that set our stories alight.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 10:59:32 AM by Jmack »
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)

Offline MammaMamae

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2016, 10:45:25 AM »
I have four books I re-read regularly:

Lord of the Rings
The Once and Future King
The Brothers Karamazov
War and Peace


Here is what they have in common that I love:

* Omniscient narration with personality.

* Great characters and complex relationships between the characters.

* A strong sense of place and setting with rich descriptions.

* Moral complexity and emotional realism.  Yes, that includes Tolkien.  Too many authors today think that being dark and "edgy" = moral complexity.  Nope.

* Joy and beauty: the flight of the wild geese in Once and Future King, Sam dancing under his new tree at the end of Lord of the Rings, Natasha's shawl dance in War and Peace, the last page in Brothers Karamazov... some of my favorite moments in fiction ever.  Modern fiction is often lacking *joy*.  More joy please. 

I also find myself going back frequently to books by Ursula K Le Guin and Michael Chabon.

Offline Jmack

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Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2016, 03:52:20 PM »
Ooh, @MammaMamae, have you read Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road?
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)

Online Peat

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2016, 05:40:15 PM »
In order of precedence...

Authorial Voice & Prose - Some people I'd read about them mowing their lawn. Some people I wouldn't read if you paid me. If there is not an engaging voice and prose, its never going to be one of my favourite stories. I love the wry, slightly bitter observation of Pratchett's pomp. I love the very thorough, somewhat mannered, often weary inquisitiveness of classic Le Carre. I love Eddings' irreverent japery, even as I laugh and shake my head at the rest of what he does. And so on.

Character - Books live and die by their characters for me. If I don't find them and their world view interesting, I'm going to struggle with the book, nevermind find it interesting.

Moments - Often I'll re-read a book simply because I wanted to read a particular scene and end up reading the rest of the book because why the hell not.

And that's it really. I love books with depth and meaning, but that doesn't mean you're making my favourites list. Ditto books that ask questions, books with complex and decent morality, books with suspense, books with great character deaths, books with real feeling worlds...

But they won't get a book onto my favourites list if the big 3 aren't there and if the big 3 is there, the rest can go hang.

Offline MammaMamae

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2016, 09:55:14 PM »
Ooh, @MammaMamae, have you read Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road?

Yes! Yes!  I love that book.  That and Kavelier and Clay are my 2 faves of his (although I have a special place for the Mysteries of Pittsburgh since I spent my post college years living in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood and I think a piece of my heart is still there…)

He has such a great voice and sense of character and place in his books.

Offline MammaMamae

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2016, 10:00:18 PM »
I love Eddings' irreverent japery, even as I laugh and shake my head at the rest of what he does. And so on.

Eddings used to be one of my regular re-reads, too.  There is a lot that is imperfect about his books, but his books were *fun*.  He the first writer that literally kept me up all night when I was a kid.

Offline Jmack

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Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2016, 10:40:33 PM »
Ooh, @MammaMamae, have you read Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road?

Yes! Yes!  I love that book.  That and Kavelier and Clay are my 2 faves of his (although I have a special place for the Mysteries of Pittsburgh since I spent my post college years living in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood and I think a piece of my heart is still there…)

He has such a great voice and sense of character and place in his books.

I remember an NPR interview with him where he said his working title was "Jews with Swords" but thought it wouldn't sell.  ;D ;D

My other favorite Chabon is "The Yiddish Policeman's Union". So funny and surprising.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)

Online Peat

Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2016, 10:53:19 PM »
I'm surprised I haven't heard of Mysteries of Pittsburgh, my fiancee is normally all over everything with Pittsburgh in the title. Might have to check this guy out.

As for Eddings - I still re-read him (I did a review of Pawn of Prophecy not that long ago) and still enjoy him. Probably always will.
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: What is your favorite thing about your favorite story?
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2016, 11:05:00 AM »
Frank Herbert's Dune Series:

His worldbuilding was incredible-- the development of different capacities of the human mind over time, the social devolution into a corporate empire-- it seemed so incredibly well thought out and deeply rooted in our own experience.  I love how the whole first book is a hero story only for him to take apart the whole deification of heroes and turn the story on it's head.  There was so much depth and insight in those books, and they were still incredibly exciting.  The Jessica sections were my favorite b/c it was so exciting to see what new crazy thing she was capable of.

If a video game counts as a story, I'd say that moment in Final Fantasy III(VI if you're young or in Japan) when the world ends and you're like-- wait-- what-- can they do that????!!!!

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