May 29, 2020, 02:47:12 PM

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Hi! Hello, I'm Toby and I read and write books. I've read the articles here for years, and I thought it was time I joined the forum.

My favourite authors are Raymond Chandler, George Orwell and Mervyn Peake. I used to just read science fiction and fantasy, but currently it's whatever seems interesting. At the moment, I'm reading Black Man by Richard Morgan and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. They're both really good.

Writing-wise, I've written seven novels. Six are a series of SF comedies. The seventh was a Warhammer 40,000 novel about the Imperial Guard. At the moment, I'm trying to write an epic fantasy and getting distracted by podcasting and writing about spaceships.

And for added geekiness I also make model kits!

July 05, 2018, 11:10:27 PM
Re: Plots without twists and payoffs other than surprise Yes, I don’t think you really need twists, especially big ones, for a book to be very entertaining. I also think that the bigger the twist, the greater the chance that the writer will lose me as a reader. If it’s just a character revealing that he’s working for the enemy, fine, but if it turns out that all the characters are actually a hallucination in the mind of someone else, I’m likely to be put off unless it's very well done. I suppose it’s when the twist doesn’t enhance the story as much as fundamentally changing or damaging it.

Personally, I find it quite difficult to write plots that aren’t the A, B, C, D structure you mentioned. It can get a bit samey, and each episode of the story can seem like collecting coupons to be allowed into the finale. That said, some books are so complex or their worlds so intense that twists aren’t really needed. I don’t remember Neuromancer really having plot twists, but the setting and style meant that it was both immersive and quite hard going without them.

July 06, 2018, 09:17:03 AM
Re: The Enemy's POV? I think it depends a lot on the story. Generally speaking, the more human and rounded the villain is, the more interesting his point of view would be. I can't imagine Sauron's point of view to be that rewarding: I'd expect that some of the "dark lord" type super-villains would just be obsessed with vengeance and conquest to the point of being a bit dull. Of course, there are human villains who are just greedy, or stupid, or just do what they're told and probably wouldn't be very interesting as a result, so it probably depends on the circumstances an awful lot. 
July 06, 2018, 01:50:12 PM
Re: Archetypes - a more well-rounded discussion I agree. I think a lot of this comparing of stories might be interesting to an anthropologist, but isn’t very useful to a writer or reader. Knowing that a story uses the third of the seven basic plots doesn’t answer the questions “Does it work, and is it enjoyable?”, which I think are much more important to a reader. I think the similarities idea isn’t just academic: the website TV Tropes is very popular, and does much the same thing.

Also, many patterns exist because they work: the detective story, where the detective slowly gets closer and closer to the truth, is dramatically effective and satisfying to read, which I suppose is why it’s used outside crime novels and in SFF such as Fatherland or Altered Carbon.

July 20, 2018, 02:16:54 PM