September 21, 2019, 06:20:46 AM

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Messages - Yora

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Spoiler for Hiden:

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Writers' Corner / Re: Always on the move
« on: September 17, 2019, 09:08:46 AM »
I actually thing the journey format has been quite overdone a good time ago. But what alternatives are there? The one other option I see is court intrigue, and that really isn't my thing.
As with all stereotypes, I don't think the problem is that they have been done so many times that they become boring, but that they have been done in always the same way too much. Everything can be made interesting again if you use it in new ways. What people get bored with is feeling like they read basically the same thing again and again.

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Writers' Corner / Re: Always on the move
« on: September 16, 2019, 07:28:17 PM »
Detective stories are also episodic, but I think that's most of the extend to which these overlap. As you said, a detective usually stays in one place, and he also gets involved in the conflicts of other people without personal investment other than pay and optionally an obligation to duty. It's rare to see detectives working to save their own hides. You also have this with monster hunters for hire or the typcical adventurer drifter.

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Writers' Corner / Re: Always on the move
« on: September 16, 2019, 02:52:31 PM »
I was thinking about episodic. I see it also possibly working for a novel, but that would indeed require a connecting continous narrative arc.

Thinking of the movement as setting instead of plot had not occured to me, but now that you mention it it sounds absolutely right. This is probably quite useful to understand.

In light of that, the motivation to move would probably work much better as a push instead of a pull. With a pull there is a clear expectation of eventually getting there, unless something makes it impossible or pointless to continue. A push can persist forever because the characters move away from it and not toward it.

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I actually still find a lot of really amazing storytelling all the time. It's just not in books.

Which makes me wonder once more whether fantasy books have become considerably bigger over the past decades? It sometimes seems to me that Malazan has become the new benchmark instead of being a gargantuan outlier. If that is really the case, it could be that novels have become somewhat bloated, aiming for huge scopes and page counts when really good stories can actually be very tight and compact. Many movies, TV shows, and videogames make heavy use of visual spectacle, but I don't think that actually makes the stories seem more gripping or compelling.

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Writers' Corner / Re: Always on the move
« on: September 16, 2019, 11:33:54 AM »
I totally have to read at least the first Dark Tower book. I've only heard good things about it, and it should certainly be educational.

Ending is of course a big problem with such an approach. I actually think any series like this can't have an ending. And I also have a personal fascination with the insignificance of everything in an infinite and uncaring universe and finding meaning in things that nobody will remember.
But even such an approach needs to be communicated sufficiently to not create the impression that everything is building towards a resolution that brings clear and amazing answers. You don't want audiences to leave feeling like watching X-Files, Lost, or Game of Thrones. But many of my favorite works have a gradual realization in the second half that the heroes are not going to make it and even in the best case there won't be much of a reward. Determination in the face of futility is a very strong theme when done right.

Spoiler for Dark Tower:
I seem to remember having heard that Dark Tower doesn't really have a resolution and at the end there's exactly the same situation as at the start.

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Writers' Corner / Always on the move
« on: September 16, 2019, 10:42:31 AM »
In the five years that I have been dabbling in writing on and off, I always only created fragments for short stories, but have never been able to put together a complete narrative that I found satisfying enough to develop fully. The typical 3x400 pages quest to confront and defeat the evil tyrant or stop the demon lord just isn't doing it for me, and it's hard to think of fantasy works that don't follow this template. Neither can I get excited for the vagabond who constantly looks for opportunities to refill his purse by killing things for other people. It's just not things I can relate to or that feel meaningful to me.

When I came back to it recently to give it another try and collected my thoughts on which works I know that have structures I find compelling, I found that several of them follow a pattern of protagonists searching for something that is always somewhere beyond the horizon, with very little sense of progress, and encountering various local conflicts they are forced to interact with before they can continue on their way.
Examples are the movies Fury Road, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the Riddick series, and my all time favorite movie The Empire Strikes back. But I really became aware of the pattern when I played the game Metro Exodus last month. It's about a group of soldiers who are forced to flee their ruined city and cross the post-apocalyptic wastelands to search for a place they can live, and perhaps even be a new home for the other survivors they left behind in the burned out ruins. There is no main villain or threat to the world to be stopped, just the fact that they have to keep moving and can't go back. Along the way they run into various groups that block their path, which forces them to get involved with the local conflicts before they can be on their way. But the aspect that I find most interesting here is that they don't win the conflicts for one group or solve their problems, but only help making just enough progress to be able to get moving again. (Most of the movies I mentioned do have the tyrany overthrown at the end, but otherwise are quite similar.)

There are several things I quite like about that narrative approach. Most importantly, it allows for pretty self contained plots that are individually not that big, so it's not such a huge commitment to complete one huge work or be left with nothing to show for. But you also could continue it basically indefinitely if you want to. At the same time you can have continuity and ongoing character development among the group of protagonists.
But it also appeals to me thematically. By having characters stay only relatively briefly and wanting to move on before all loose ends are tied up, you avoid Destined Saviour protagonists, which just always feel a bit wrong to me. It also avoids that notion that everything can be fixed and will be alright with a single dramatic action, which just isn't how the world works. I find it much more meaningful to have stories about how small accomplishments make real believable differences within their limited space, instead of a narrative that things can only be made better by big heroic victories that only exist in fantasy. Or you even can have the protagonists fail and it isn't the end of the story. Instead they continue, having developed further from the experience.

I think this sounds pretty good. Maybe this could work for me?  I am still early in investigating this approach, looking for more examples and what exactly they do. Do you have any thoughts what aspects are central to making such a structure work and what possible points of failure to look out for?

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Mysteries and twists are severely overrated.

A good story does not actually have to conclude in a huge twist. Though I feel like in this day, the whole idea that you could have a story without it would seem baffling and bizarre.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread.
Star Wars episode 7 has 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. There are actually people who love this rambling dumpster fire of an incoherent train wreck. And I am only in my mid 30s.

Though it is true. My entire music collection is from when I was 16 to 20, or deliberately retro-style.

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What I really want is Star Wars without lasers and space ships.  8)

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Thank you for reminding me. I had my own personal assassin crisis a few years back, where I was desperately looking for contemporary fantasy books that don't have teenage assassin protagonists.

80s and early 90s fantasy really is where the good stuff is. Yes, a lot, and perhaps most of it was cheesy or even campy. But one think that camp has is earnest enthusiasm that makes the whole work more than the sum of its silly parts. In my heavily distorted perception of someone who doesn't really need it, contemporary fantasy always looks stiff and trying to be grounded and down to earth.
I am always looking for magical adventures, but I just can't find any.

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I’ve gotten bored of mines , I don’t think any have been that exciting. In most fantasy books we have to have a mine scene now?

Also bored of the Hero teaching schools Magic or weapons.

Anyone else had enough of brothels in their fantasy too. The tart with the heart of gold.

What are you bored of seeing in fantasy books?

I've got past that point long ago. I think what this really is the "Ref Fair Fantasy" style. It has the looks of 19th century Romantic images of the middle ages, but actually follows 20th century social structures. It can have a charm, but actually evokes nothing about the way people in the premodern past lived and saw the world around them.

Magic schools and thieves guilds are certainly very high in the list for me. Industrial magic also belongs into this category. Worlds in which magic is mass manufactured and found on shelves in stores.

Also fireballs and lighting. If your magic could be imagined to be shot from a sci-fi gun, I'm not interested.

I think I got interested in ancient and medieval warfare shortly after the Lord of the Rings movie, because it really started to bother me how medieval people would have run straight into walls of spears and swords at the head of an army with dozens of rows of enemies before them and dozens of rows of other soldiers behind them. How would anyone think that this isn't guaranteed suicide?
A few months later I knew that nobody ever did. There are no movies or videogames that have even the slightest resemblance of realism when it comes to how premodern battles were fought. Books have the benefit of not having to be very specific in what the masses of soldiers are actually doing, but still most writers seem to be writing battle scenes that are simply impossible.
I'm not even a hardcore military nerd. I just watch a few videos on youtube and occasionally asked some questions on forums. And even I can see that all fantasy battles are completely ridiculous. In fantasy, the only level of warfare realism is the "80s Schwarzenegger movie" level of realism.

Annother thing I can't stand anymore are undead and demonic hordes determined to kill all of humanity for reasons. It worked in The Lord of the Rings, because The Lord of the Rings is about a megalomaniac who thinks he can rebuild Creation better than the gods did. Sauron does not want to kill all humans and elves, he wants to reshape them into the ideal citizens for his ideal world, with no concern for the destruction caused by the process or the wishes of the people. That story made sense and it had a deeper meaning.
But most of fantasy is just copying the things that Tolkien did, without understanding that Tolkien had narrative reasons to include them in the story. This is one of the many examples.
Taverns and brothels, though, have never felt very convincing. Like everyone's copying an original that wasn't very authentic in the first place.
That's exactly what I mean! To me, that's about the definition of what makes something a cliche.

Purely as a personal aesthetic preference, without any judgements of specific quality or executions, that whole Celtic-Germanic thing is leaving me rather cold.

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There are plenty of books that have a first chapter in which nothing happens and you're not getting told what it is about. I think it's the second chapter that tells you if there is a second storyline where stuff is happening and some kind of conflict hinted at, or if the first chapter is representative of large parts of the book. That's where alarm bells tend to go off for me. When you can make it to the third chapter and you still have no clue what any of this is about, that's clearly a point to jump ship for me.

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I think patience has nothing to do with it. If anything, it's a question of whether you are enjoying yourself with an activity or not. If the activity of reading a book bores you, then why keep doing it?
There's nothing wrong with slow pacing, but it still needs to be entertaining. "Trust me, it get's good later" just isn't a good argument to do something you don't enjoy as entertainment, when there are plenty of other things you can do instead.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: need some Grimdark recommendations
« on: September 05, 2019, 08:26:12 AM »
The first two story collections I can fully recommend. Though it's really not grimdark.

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General Discussion / Re: If your were a D&D character what would you be ?
« on: September 03, 2019, 03:19:49 PM »
I would be a wizard. Curious about the inner workings of the world and dabling around with weird stuff, but no toughness or fighting skills.
And only level 2, because I am lazy.

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