January 28, 2020, 02:27:45 PM

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
SO, to my final point : What do you do when some people think a book is good and its author has talent, when the "official" world finds it horrible for "objective reasons"?

I say objective because using word counters can physically prove how poor 50 Shades is, if using that example.

Word Count:
"Oh My" - 79
"Crap" - 101
"Jeez" - 82
"Holy (shit/fuck/crap/hell/cow/moses)" - 172
"Whoa" - 13
"Gasp" - 34
"Gasps" - 11
"Sharp Intake of Breath" - 4
"Murmur" - 68
"Murmurs" - 139
"Whisper" - 96
"Whispers" - 103
"Mutter" - 28
"Mutters" - 23
"Fifty" - 16
"Lip" - 71
"Inner goddess" - 58
"Subconscious" - 82

Thank you for proving my point. You've given a list of words you and the official world somehow find unacceptable. While millions of other people didn't mind those words used over and over again. That in itself, shows how subjective talent is.

But enough people loved it and 5 stars rated it to make you pause and wonder.

Are we having an elitist approach to a writer's "talent"? And again talent is vague, as I think managing to please millions while off-putting millions more is a talent in its own right.

It's not that you have an elitist approach to a writer's talent. It is simply personal preference. The "official world"  is a club that has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent. George R R Martin has written a fantastic set of novels, but he'll never win a Pulitzer prize or a Mann Booker award, for the simple reason that those clubs have a set of criteria for judging talent that is at odds with his genre and style of writing. The Hugo award isn't going to be given to The Remains of the Day, for the simple reason that the Hugos have a set of criteria for judging talent that wouldn't include that type of book.

Take a look at the various "official world" awards. They don't pick the same books, even though they're mostly part of the same club. Why? Because it's subjective.

My main point is that you can't impose objective standards on art. If you did, all art would be the same. Subjectivity is what allows art to flourish.

As a writer, you should never be constrained by what other people (and their clubs) dictate as "good" or "right". Create your own art, then find others who enjoy it.

August 05, 2017, 05:25:53 PM
Re: Prologues
I almost quit reading ASOIF many times when the POV changes to a seemingly irrelevent character (well everytime it went to Bran's chapter, for an example).

I agree on Bran. The only thing interesting in his story line is when Jamie dropped him from the tower. It should have ended there.

August 05, 2017, 05:35:00 PM
Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
But it is not true, and I can explain why. First, I want to look at the words we are using.

Quote from: Merriam-Webster
Subjective: characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind

Quote from: Merriam-Webster
Objective: of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind

So by saying that craft is subjective, you're saying that it cannot be defined outside of the mind of the person who experiences it.

Exactly. Now, you're getting it. Since objectivity requires things to be "in the realm of sensible experience" of ALL people, nothing is objective. Everything is subjective because everyone functions based on "reality as perceived". There is no such thing as "reality independent of the mind" when judging talent (or judging anything).

So, if you disagree with me then you prove the point that everything is subjective (because not ALL people agree).

August 10, 2017, 06:04:25 PM
Re: Originality is overrated (but still quite important) I've always believed that there is very little original thought in the world, but there are infinite numbers of original experiences. People have varied reactions to a single idea, challenge, or object. I'm guessing this is what you call "meaning".

Great books have characters that react and think in original ways when faced with a familiar challenge... or as you put it: a new and original interpretation. I think you've nailed it. The hard part is coming up with original experiences.

August 27, 2017, 06:23:32 PM
Re: Seeking enlightenment and why you can't have it It's a great idea, but you've set yourself up with a tough task to accomplish. As others have said, the first thing you need to do is decide what enlightenment is. But, the problem with this is that most interpretations of enlightenment are trite. Things like "at peace with myself", "everyone shares everything", "peace, love, and understanding", etc. So you end up with an internal struggle that has been written about a million times. To fix this you'll have to find enlightenment that isn't popular in today's culture, which runs the risk of the ideas being rejected by readers.

However, this does set up a potential for conflict. Your protagonist could discover things that go against the prevailing social powers (religion, government, trade guilds, or whatever). Then powerful people could put her at risk in an attempt to keep her from the truth... a truth that could change the world as we know it!

Another way to add conflict is an internal struggle where the enlightenment that she finds challenges her long held beliefs. Every step along the way she has to fight her beliefs. So the story could be about personal growth at a big psychological cost.

To add another dimension you could have her finding enlightenment in unlikely places. Instead of a guru or secret societies having the knowledge (although I'm a sucker for secret society stories), it could come from people who aren't immersed/trained in the social doctrine. For example, the insane, young children, barbarians in a far away land.

Anyway, it's a great idea. I hope you can pull it off because it's the type of story I'd love to read.

October 19, 2017, 06:15:46 PM
Re: Setting, plot, or characters - which should come first?
I'd say it depends on you, and more importantly it should depend on the story.

Sometimes you come up with a character, a key element of a character, or a visual image of them, and their life story grows around them, spinning the setting and the plot in your head. Sometimes one requires more work than the rest.
Sometimes you have a great idea (like when I thought up the concept of a man waking with a his phobia shifted to a new object every day as he wakes from deep sleep, never knowing what the new one'll be...) and you have to decide where you'll place it, and what kind of person this'll be about.
This I struggle the most with, because it forces me to decide on everything upfront, and I loose interest in my own story.
The best is when I have a good character, a nice immediate setting, and the very basics of a situation, not a real plot. As I flesh up the character and make it walk forward, it helps me stir the story and decide on what happens.

This. It depends on you as a writer and your own writing process. Which part of the process excites you most? What do you want to write about the most? Is it the character, a fantastic world, or the story (aka plot)? Pick one and start from there, then let the other pieces of the puzzle fill in as you move forward.

As others have said, the character is the most important piece to keep the reader interested, but that doesn't mean you can't write a great character by starting with the setting or plot first.

November 09, 2017, 06:03:08 PM
Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
See, I just approach this one from the side of the reader, and I hit two significant points:
1) Because there is no guarantee that a SP book will have editing/proofing/design time/money put into it, I'm reluctant to try any of them, and I've yet to find a gatekeeper service that will sort the wheat from the chaff for me. (I admit, I haven't looked very hard, because my to-read list is out of control just with trad pub books.)

...which could probably be point zero here: I have so many trad pubbed books I'm excited about, I don't need to look further afield.

2) I only buy books unread when I know and love the author's work, or when I've heard so much and am so excited about a book that I just have to. (This happens approximately once a year.) Otherwise, I borrow books from the library and read them. If I love the book, I'll buy it after that. But I don't know about libraries elsewhere in the world, but my libraries here in Australia generally don't have SP books in their catalogues, not even e-catalogues. I'm not sure how conceivable it is for SP authors to get their books into libraries.

Given all that, as a writer, I'm not interested in self-pubbing because I don't read self-pub. I'm also more interested in the professional relationships around my writing that come with trad pub, but that's sort of a secondary concern.

Most readers I know don't care -- or even know who the publisher is. They discover books from friend recommendations, review sites, browsing amazon, or seeing an ad on Facebook or Twitter. As a result, they get a good mix of both indie and trade pubbed books and don't see a difference between them except for the mega authors like Brandon Sanderson, GRRM, etc. Those authors are talked about by name, but for the most part, I hear my friends talking about the story/plot without regard to the author (and never about the publisher) when recommending a book.

Trade publishers make it easy for an author to focus on the craft and leave the business to the publisher. But, the downside is that the publisher doesn't care as much about your success as you do. If your book sells, great. If not, then the publisher moves on to the next lottery ticket. That's why 90% of trade pubbed authors make less than 30k a year.

If you really believe in your work, indie publishing is probably the best path to success because you can dedicate the resources necessary over several years to get to the point where you make a living from writing (a publisher won't invest the time and money if your first attempt doesn't hit the mark). My advice would be, focus on your craft first. Then learn marketing and business management or hire someone to do it for you. And most important, remember you're playing a long game.

November 24, 2017, 08:22:36 PM
Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
And while we sit here talking SP vs Trad, I'd point out the happiest looking column on that graph is Hybrid.

The reason for this is a lot of hybrid authors get there with a big hit self published book then sell their print rights, foreign rights, etc. Some of them go on to sign a contract for full rights on the next book or series, but it's not super common for the big hitters in self publishing. They don't see the value of the publisher for their ebook rights.

The other authors that end up hybrid get a book deal with a publisher and build an audience, but then the publisher doesn't want their next work. They leverage their existing audience to sell it and subsequent books as self published.

The common thread is that hybrid authors were successful to some extent before going hybrid. So, it makes sense that they're more successful as a group. Add to that the indie and trade published stats lose authors who crosses over and that group has a big advantage statistically speaking.

November 26, 2017, 06:15:26 PM
Re: Hello Again, More or Less. Hey Joe, I've read Dragon's Trail and enjoyed it. Good luck with your writing career.
December 16, 2017, 05:36:23 PM
Re: How to know which crits to listen to
Take *every* comment with a pinch of salt. Everybody will have a different opinion, yourself included. That said, if a consensus of opinion builds (this character is weak, this plot is too contrived) then they are onto something you probably should not ignore.
Try and re-read it with their eyes and try and see where they are coming from. Think if others might feel the same on coming to the story for the first time or if they are just being them. Adjust the piece accordingly if you think it would make it stronger.

This. Listen to people with an open mind (no matter how much it hurts -- because it will). If several people are telling you the same thing, then you have a serious problem. If one or two people mention the same thing you have a problem. If it's just one person, then it might just be personal preference, but you should consider the advice anyway to see if it makes the book better or worse.

As to the "formulaic" advice, be careful with it. Every time you follow formulaic rules you make your work more bland (the same as everyone else who is following the rule).

January 09, 2018, 04:35:27 PM