May 30, 2020, 03:57:44 PM

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Messages - Peat

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1
Welp. That's a fascinating problem, and one I've honestly never encountered in a writer before.

For what it's worth, I think your proposed solution sounds good. I never had to use it for writing, but I did once have to organise a list of websites as a healthcare resource and I did something that sounds similar - every site (in your case idea/discrete piece of setting info) gets its own page, then there's Keyword lists so someone could search under the relevant keyword and see all the good stuff for that particularly keyword.

So keyword lists like

Characters
Worlds
Cultures
Tech

etc.etc.

Then under Characters you have the sub-list of characters

MC Dumbbutstrong
Smuggles Da Larfs
Invincible Kung Fu Princess

So you'd click on MC Dumbbutstrong, and you get the links to the pages for his bio, his favourite blaster, his world of birth, the world he trained on, one to his love interest maybe etc.etc.

Does that sound like what you were thinking?

2
Not entirely sure I grasp what you're looking for, and knowing this mightn't be that helpful as you've probably considered it -

Can't you just press ahead and do it with what you've got? If something's forgotten, it's probably not that important. I know there's probably a good reason but I figure I might as well ask the obvious.

If you do need a way to collate it all together, why not a Series Bible? I do mine on Scrivener with each part different documents but word doc or even an online wiki would work just as well.

3
Hmmm call me cynical, but these news of the lockdown ease and being able to meet people seems to have come at the right time to stop people talking about Cummings ::)

It hasn't as far as my twitter thread/media browsing is concerned. Hell, the main piece on The Spectator website is "Boris Johnson Isn't Fit To Lead". Maybe it'll go away in a couple more days.

Now, if I was being really cynical I'd suggest not many people are talking about how bad the death rate is here.

4
Just finished House of Sundering Flames and really not sure what I thought.

@ScarletBea - what PoVs did you like/not like?
*picks up book to remind self*
*browses*
Liked: Asmodeus and Thuan, and Philippe
Didn't care much: Emmanuelle and Aurore

Hmm it seems there's a pattern, in that I liked the stories with the characters with which I was more involved in previous books, and didn't care much for new or previously minor characters.

I think I said that my favourite of the 3 books was the second, what about you?

@Peat, I also just noticed you're now reading Why We Get the Wrong Politicians, that's a really great book and made me feel really sad and wondering if there's truly a way out of the mess ::) :D

I'll have to answer (probably in a different thread) on whether that's a way out of that mess later!

But as for HoSF, it's kinda a mess itself. Some parts I love, some parts I don't, but it's all crammed together and it just doesn't breathe. Maybe that's deliberate, that it's meant to be an intense book.

I think I also agree with your preferred PoVs, although Emmanuelle's has a stunning ending, and think they're also mostly portrayed as a little too sure of themselves and right.

Still not sure what I think of it tbh. Might be a day or two before it's clear enough to review, but maybe the uncertainty is the thing I need to point out.

5
Just finished House of Sundering Flames and really not sure what I thought.

@ScarletBea - what PoVs did you like/not like?

6
^ ;D

But when you try to review a book, I mean, if you liked it or not, do you tend to focus more on the characters/people or on the things that they do?
For me, if the people are annoying, I don't care if they are the best at whatever, or save the world, or something similar, hehe

When I review I talk mainly about the characters, but that's partly because going into what they do gets a bit spoiler-tastic.


Also, I suspect that for myself, the best way for a book to not have annoying characters is to not spend a bunch of time in their head, and that characters I'd like in plot-driven books are characters I wouldn't like in character-driven books. I think Bender's question about the first Hobb trilogy being character-driven highlights that to me - to me, yes it is, or at least very finely balanced, and I ended up not finishing it because I couldn't get over being stuck in Fitz's head for so much moping and self-hinderance.

I think Rand's madness arc is another such thing that alienated a lot of readers - and I think in that case, one could maybe argue a case for the style of Wheel of Time pushing more character-driven as it progressed. To me, that's a big risk of character-driven.

Looking at Cupiscent's post... I feel I prefer the arcs you get from character-driven, but prefer a plot driven approach to getting there (although those aren't firm preferences). Less internal waffle and more showing character depth through doing.

7
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Character Driven vs Plot Driven
« on: May 27, 2020, 04:55:03 PM »
In my blog thread Bea had this to say


Can't we just talk about plot-driven vs. character-driven?
I keep thinking about this, and I think it was you who mentioned it, and I think I'm moving towards character-driven, meaning I need to care about the characters to care about the plot.
In Priory of the orange tree I loved the characters and was heavily invested - and I still love it, despite having read a few reviews highlighting plot problems. I contrast that with Weeks' Lightbringer series, this gave me the words to explain why I really liked the first 3 books but found the last 2 very meh: I cared about the characters in those initial books, but then he changed their personality, some more than others, and I didn't really like them anymore, and that really brought my enjoyment down...

And I thought it'd be interesting to talk about character and plot, how we see them interlinked, and where our preferences lie (beyond both).


For me, when I talk about Character Driven/Plot Driven, I'm thinking mainly of the sort of writerly definition - https://nybookeditors.com/2017/02/character-driven-vs-plot-driven-best/ gives a good description. The TL:DR version of that article is:

Most good works have a lot of both because one feeds into the other, but there's usually a primary focus. Plot is about What the character does and How they do it - Character is about What the character becomes and How they come to the decision.

It's a kinda woolly definition but I do find it useful (if nothing else than for starting arguments) and think when you try looking at a lot of books, you start to see it.

Using this definition, I'm not sure what I prefer other than, well, both. A common sign of good fiction is when impressive feats of prowess have unintended results that cause a lot of soul-searching. However, I do find that when I'm talking to other people about books, I'm most likely to talk about the characters, so it's probably the character-led part that's slightly most important to me.

I guess the other part is that if we're looking at things that kill my interest in a book then after prose, bad characterisation or characters I don't care for is the biggest killer.

So maybe I am sure and it is character. I need a good plot for the book to feel right, but character does seem to be more important to me.

8
Links, Competitions and 'Stuff' / Re: The Peat's Blog thread
« on: May 27, 2020, 10:52:30 AM »
Your epic vs high made my head hurt ???
I'm still not clear on the distinction, or even sure if it makes sense.

Can't we just talk about plot-driven vs. character-driven?
I keep thinking about this, and I think it was you who mentioned it, and I think I'm moving towards character-driven, meaning I need to care about the characters to care about the plot.
In Priory of the orange tree I loved the characters and was heavily invested - and I still love it, despite having read a few reviews highlighting plot problems. I contrast that with Weeks' Lightbringer series, this gave me the words to explain why I really liked the first 3 books but found the last 2 very meh: I cared about the characters in those initial books, but then he changed their personality, some more than others, and I didn't really like them anymore, and that really brought my enjoyment down...

I'm going to start a Character vs Plot driven thread up in Main forum as I think it's too interesting a discussion to keep here.

As for Epic and High... well I'm never sure if anything about fantasy genres make sense! But I'd boil it down to one being about this Epic life-altering event like a war, or a great natural disaster, and the other being about somebody's collision with the supernatural. The rest is just extrapolation.

9
I grabbed it in a charity shop and it was okay enough but didn't really compel me. Might return to it at some point.

10
Links, Competitions and 'Stuff' / Re: The Peat's Blog thread
« on: May 26, 2020, 10:56:16 AM »
I did INDEED enjoy your alcoholic selections, though now I want a beer and it's only just gone ten in the morning here...

Though I feel like Discworld really needs to be some sort of ridiculous tiki cocktail with a sparkler and an umbrella and a plastic monke--sorry, orangutan in it.

There's no reason an apple brandy cocktail couldn't also be a ridiculous tiki cocktail!


Anyway, I haven't been keeping this fully updated due to volume of articles, but here's a few I think people might enjoy/I'm very proud of

https://peatlong.blogspot.com/2020/05/daughter-of-empire-by-re-feist-and.html

https://peatlong.blogspot.com/2020/05/servant-of-empire-by-re-feist-janny.html

https://peatlong.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-summer-tree-by-guy-gavriel-kay.html

https://peatlong.blogspot.com/2020/05/art-artists-and-separation.html

https://peatlong.blogspot.com/2020/05/cold-forged-flame-by-marie-brennan.html

https://peatlong.blogspot.com/2020/05/epic-vs-high.html

11
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Multiple plots in a book
« on: May 25, 2020, 06:49:10 PM »
Is it sort of like -

Plot A: Set out to beat the Dark Lord. Escape Minions of Dark Lord. Beat Dark Lord's Lieutenant. Be Captured by Dark Lord. Escape and Beat the Dark Lord.

Plan B: Set out to become a Dragon Rider. Find Becoming a Dragon Rider makes you marked for death. Uncover spy against your Dragon Rider-ness but cause war. Fight war as a Dragon Rider. Win daring victory against odds as Dragon Rider.

Plot A is pretty familiar feeling and I think is what you're talking about the single one. The protagonist has the same overriding aim from beginning to end.

Plan B I think is what you're talking about as the new thing. The protagonist's aim shifts with every story section; each section feels like a new plot/arc in a way because the aim has shifted.

Am I close here?
Argh, why can't we be sitting together at a table chatting about this? It would be so much easier to explain with gestures and half sentences, and immediate questions/answers ;D

It's more, all within one book:
Plot 1.1: Dark Lord rules the world, young hero dreams of defeating him. She trains hard, grows up, moves to the city and after a few more things there's a big battle and defeats the Dark Lord. But as he lay dying, he mentioned this special stone that would allow his work to continue. Plot 1.2: Now the hero must learn about that and find out where the stone is. Eventually that happens and she learns the story that the Dark Lord was actually the second in command to a more evil entity, that lives far away and reappears every 500 years. Plot 1.3: Hero must defeat this new entity with new weapons.
--> so there are actually 3 conclusions, almost each a "normal book" in its own right, but in this case not.

You know this happens when you're preparing for a big climax and can't put the story down but you're still halfway (or somewhere far from the end) of the book - more will come.

So your 'plot B' is closer to my idea, yes, but it lacked that sense of urgency that the middle climaxes/conclusions also have.

Right?

Aha! I'm with you now I think.

I'm actually doing re-reads now on two fairly old series where the books (and overall arc) do at times approach that - The Empire Trilogy where each political challenge beaten leads to another; and the Deverry Cycle, which is hard to explain due to a bunch of reincarnation plots. But yes, I do think it seems to happen more often now.

And I think it's part of a move in the genre being more character-based than plot-based. If you're following the character's arc, then it's easier to have this sort of thing I think.

And I am in favour of it :)

12
Turning Darkness Into Light is a wonderful read and something I heartily recommend to all but, maybe this is going to be a series and you'll be happier waiting?

The Wounded Kingdoms is my favourite trilogy of recent times by a long chalk. The second book is comfortably the worse in the series so Alex, if you enjoyed the first I'd do the third, but the second is still decent enough and the first is cracking and the third is awesome. The Hobbian comparison... I kinda buy it, as Girton the MC does make life more difficult for himself al Fitz style in book 2, but he's a fair amount angrier and in need of a slap from what memory recalls.

13
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Multiple plots in a book
« on: May 24, 2020, 11:07:29 PM »
I'm thinking specifically within one book, yes.
One example is what I'm reading now, hehe, The Priory of the Orange tree (you'll see exactly what I mean as you read), but I've seen this in the past.
The starless sea was another - I'll check my list to refresh my memory and come back to you with more.

Edit: maybe what I call 'multiple plots', others call simply sub-plots. Maybe I'm seeing things in a weird way...

Hmm. I'll have to read Priory of the Orange Tree quicker then, as I've not read the other.  I think I'm grasping what you mean, but am not sure.

Is it sort of like -

Plot A: Set out to beat the Dark Lord. Escape Minions of Dark Lord. Beat Dark Lord's Lieutenant. Be Captured by Dark Lord. Escape and Beat the Dark Lord.

Plan B: Set out to become a Dragon Rider. Find Becoming a Dragon Rider makes you marked for death. Uncover spy against your Dragon Rider-ness but cause war. Fight war as a Dragon Rider. Win daring victory against odds as Dragon Rider.

Plot A is pretty familiar feeling and I think is what you're talking about the single one. The protagonist has the same overriding aim from beginning to end.

Plan B I think is what you're talking about as the new thing. The protagonist's aim shifts with every story section; each section feels like a new plot/arc in a way because the aim has shifted.

Am I close here?

14
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Multiple plots in a book
« on: May 24, 2020, 06:12:43 PM »
Your post is quite interesting, because I think we ended up referring to different things, and I see now how it could have been read that way.

Rather than the multiple POV with different stories happening at the same time and coming together at the end (which I also like, hehe, but it needs to be written properly), in this thread I was rather talking about a 'wavy line' of plot instead of the line just going up from beginning to end.

So basically we have a problem, we work towards resolution, there's a climax, and that battle/event/conclusion raises another problem, which gets worked on in a different way, leading to another battle/event/conclusion, and so on. Up and down, up and down, instead of up, up, up, the end!
So what do you think about this one?


Ohhhhhh  :D

Like how Dominions of the Fallen is three related books, rather than one quest split up into three books?

Or just within particular books? Can you think of examples?

(I've just got back from the shops and am rather sleepy)

15
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Multiple plots in a book
« on: May 24, 2020, 12:43:35 PM »
When I started reading fantasy it seemed that all books had a single plot: a problem to be solved at the end, with an arc that spanned the book.
I don't know if it's the choice of books I'm reading now or things have changed, but now I'm finding more and more books with multiple plots, multiple battles/climaxes, multiple arcs, and they are so much better for it!

Have you noticed this too?

I was with you until the bolded; I'm finding too many books that either drag at the beginning as everything gets set up, or where there's a plot arc I simply don't care for at all, or where the plots never really sparkle and come to life because they just don't have enough space dedicated to them. And as I've thought about this, I think by too many, I mean pretty much all of them. If I'm thinking about the 'new' authors that I really enjoy and wholeheartedly recommend - and there's really not as many as I'd like - virtually all of them still cling to a simpler story; Barker, Gladstone, Novik in Teremaire, Brennan in Turning Darkness into Line, Wecker...

The only author I really feel excited for who goes for this big complexity from the off is De Bodard. That's it. Maybe Butcher with Codex Alera? There's a lot of authors where I've either explicitly or implicitly thought the criticism in my head - Miles Cameron in particular, but Jemisin, Abraham, Stephens - it didn't work for me. Schwaab lost me after one early PoV change, I think Gwynne did too.

Wow. I have to say, I didn't realise I feel so strongly about this, but apparently I do. And the thing is, I love multi-stranded books! But I think the branches have to come from a single trunk and that it's really hard to weave them all together well when they don't. And honestly, I don't think this current generation of writers is so much better than the preceding that they can do it when they can, and I wish agents & editors would tell them no (although clearly it is popular).

So thanks for posting this Bea as I wouldn't have connected the dots without you - but our tastes definitely disagree here!

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