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Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world Animal cruelty tends to mean a lack of empathy. Dahmer for example had a pretty twisted childhood history of animal abuse. Seems to be a warning sign in children for possible sociopathic or psychopathic behavior in the future.
January 11, 2016, 02:35:10 PM
Wanting better prose in fantasy literature Maybe I'm just becoming a grump at an early age and my preferences are narrowing down, but what I've really found off-putting about a lot of contemporary fantasy I've been trying to get into is the level of mastery of language and the quality of the prose. When I was younger I wouldn't have paid any mind to this and just enjoyed the entertainment factor, but now it's getting harder to overlook.

Perhaps I'm becoming a literary snob.

January 13, 2016, 08:16:09 AM
Re: Avoiding writing, or: How many words didn't you write today?
Plenty of time to write but haven't written anything in the past couple weeks.

I know the feeling. I'm trying to get started on something beyond the monthly story contest here and finding it hard.

I have all the material between the ears, so I'm not at a loss for what to write, it's just the matter of sitting down and committing time to just bang it out.

My sister-in-law (and fellow aspiring writer) had this advice from an agent who read her full novel draft before sending her back to the drawing board: "Write something for your novel every single day, even if it's a single word."

I just need some way to hook up a micro-usb port to my brain and do an info. dump onto my laptop.  :D
I think that's called "dragon dictation".  ;D

At this point I'm more likely to meet a real dragon than get any writing done.  :(

January 13, 2016, 08:38:56 AM
Re: Wanting better prose in fantasy literature
I don't think you're becoming a snob :)
I'm the same, and I think it's exactly because we've read so much: we have a much larger field that allows us to make comparisons.

Then again, if the writing is not *really bad* (like Paul Hoffman), I think I still manage to enjoy the story.

I guess when I go back and read one of the non-genre classics I'm as equally enthralled by the mastery of the language and its use to the greatest effect to describe the mundane as I am with less skilled descriptions of fantasy worlds and more interesting subject matter, if not more so.

Stories that wouldn't interest me based on the subject matter become enjoyable reads because the author is truly gifted at their craft.

I just started listening to the first WOT book and though it has the entertaining value found in good fantasy literature, the writing itself is really mediocre so far. GRRM's prose is better IMO and serves the story well, but I certainly wouldn't consider him a master by any stretch.

Great prose isn't a pre-requisite for writing good fantasy, but I think it would add so much more, especially where world-building descriptions are concerned. A lot of descriptions can fall flat when ordinary or recycled similes are used in abundance. I love it when a location, building, object, etc., is compared to what would seem like a completely unrelated subject or thing and the author manages to draw parallels that you wouldn't have ever thought of before.

January 13, 2016, 09:17:43 AM
Moral ambiguity becoming an overstated trope? I have no problem with these types of characters, they usually prove far more interesting; however I seem to read endless blog articles and forum posts creating the impression that if your characters aren't multi-faceted and complex to the extreme that they are pretty much taking up space and little else.

It would be naive to the extreme to credit GRRM with introducing this trope, but with the influence of his books this topic has become commonplace, as well as the continued reference to "gray" characters. Everyone and their mothers seems to be shouting "Gray characters or no characters at all!". It's like a character whose prime motivation, or their end game, can't be understood if they are to be worth reading about.

Outside of children's stories, it seems pretty difficult to create truly one-dimensional characters. The lack of any back story seems to be the main culprit in keeping them seemingly devoid of complexity. It doesn't take much information to being to hypothesize what a character's motivations truly are.

I've had discussions with other writers who have gone to the point of becoming neurotic about how complex their character is, sometimes to extremes. They seem to think villains have to be absolutely deplorable to be interesting. What they end up with is a villain that is pretty much beyond redemption in the eyes of 99% of the readers. The same obsession with the anti-hero (I'd argue that the overwhelming majority of "heroes" in literature fit the bill of anti-hero) trope is present as well.

Making a character too "gray" can cause them to lose any defining qualities. They become ambiguous to the point where we are constantly asking ourselves "What exactly is this person working towards accomplishing?"

Just an observation of what I've come across frequently.

January 13, 2016, 01:34:19 PM
Re: Relating to characters I would say use the opportunity to explore the aspects of their personality and the values that conflict with your own. Put yourself in their shoes and see what it would be like if you compromised your beliefs to take part in something that you would normally find abhorrent in your personal life.

If you are a pacifist then explore the mindset of someone who kills indiscriminately with no emotional attachment or because they liked it, even got off on it. If you have more traditional views on sex then explore the mindset of someone that has no qualms about being aggressive towards women and fulfilling the character's base urges regardless of how it effects those he has slept with.

My MC is pretty much at a moral and ethical state of neutrality. He has done things that many would find despicable, and other things that many would consider selfless or heroic. His story arc shows how his morals and ethics have transformed from the more idealistic to more cold and calculating because of different life experiences.

February 03, 2016, 12:58:29 PM
Re: Relating to characters
I have great doubts that this "identifying with characters" thing is even real. People talk about it a lot, but I don't find it very convincing.

I agree. I think the character I vividly identified with was the kidnapped girl of The Collector, which made the horrible book 10 times more destructive on my psyche, but it was because she had an extremely similar relationship with a man as I had just gotten out of, and similar thoughts and centers of interests in art, ect. So it struck me that I could empathize completely, since I had similar opinions and could sort of predict her thoughts.
That was a big one off.

Most of the time I see characters like I see my friends around myself : either the third person voice shows them to me, or the first person make it as if they were telling me a story.
Regardless, they're a stranger to me, and I need them believable and consistent, not similar to me.

You agree yet you just showed you really identified with a character. Which one is it?  ;D

February 03, 2016, 02:04:48 PM
Re: Relating to characters
Reading through these posts I've suddenly had the suspicion that I should outline more of my story.
It might just be that my characters fall flat simply because I have very little idea where I'm going with the overall story arc. I have a beginning, an end, and some other scenes, with no idea how the characters move from one to another. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from a simple character idea.

Outlines are always helpful. I like to list the major players and the decisions they make that have a big impact on the story and then work on motivation and how they came to the point where they would adopt that mindset. Once you start working on that it isn't too hard to give a character depth. The flimsiest characters are the ones that do things "just because" and the author expects the audience to just accept that and move on.

For example a villain, usually the Big Bad, wakes up one day and decides they want to conquer the world and enslave everyone. Where in reality dictators usually develop their mindset over time based on how they interpret their own life experiences, the ideas they've been exposed to as they are developing their own identity, and so on. Even serial killers can develop some warped reason why they have to do the things they do.

February 04, 2016, 10:19:57 AM
Re: Calling All Maps! http://i57.tinypic.com/2nk8dur.jpg

Not sure how to scale it down so that it doesn't take up half the screen.

February 05, 2016, 11:42:03 AM
Re: Writing a TV Pilot Treatment for a Fantasy Series I would go look for some scripts from TV shows that are similar in nature to what you are trying to create and see how they were written. Even some movie scripts might be helpful.

Given the amount of money that has to be invested into developing a TV program, seeing the formats that have been most successful couldn't hurt. Spending millions on an episode is no laughing matter, especially if you have to shoot at specific locations or build elaborate sets. The budget will dictate quite a bit in regards to what you can and cannot film, and thus what you can and cannot have in your script.

February 14, 2016, 01:40:44 PM