February 22, 2020, 03:18:19 PM

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Messages - Peat

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« on: February 21, 2020, 01:02:01 PM »
Yes, there is a significant escapist element in SFF, although pinning down the details of that and mapping it vs the number of works are fly head on at major social issues is probably more than falls under the gamut of a single psychological study. The Handmaid's Tale is SFF. There's studies linking being a Harry Potter fan with having notably more liberal political views than the norm. Etc.etc.

The article writer themselves who sought to make this even more contentious deserves nothing more than silent contempt.

2
Writers' Corner / Re: What makes a good story if its not the plot?
« on: February 14, 2020, 09:09:38 PM »
But you agree that it's entirely possible to make an action-filled movie on the same premise, only incredibly dull? I know I've watched films with awesomely coordinated stunts, cool CGI, and well-paced action, but that ultimately didn't engage me at all. Likewise, I've seen films with mediocre action scenes that engaged me.

So what makes the difference? There's certainly something else there, in my opinion. If not engagement with the characters or curiosity in what will happen next, then what?

I'm not advocating some high-brow version of storytelling where only 'sophisticated' stories are good. I think first and foremost that it's a question of whether it's there or not. And if it isn't, the film or book will feel flat and empty, even if you dig the action scenes or the metaphors.

Agreed that there's something else there; of course there is. It can be comedy, sheer proposterousness, tugging on emotional heart strings... it can be the characters too. I'm just saying it's not always a good story that starts with a good question.

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Writers' Corner / Re: What makes a good story if its not the plot?
« on: February 14, 2020, 01:57:07 PM »
Is it really a question though if the answer is completely beyond doubt and only exists to give a loose excuse a bunch of action scenes?

Not really, which is part of what makes it a dull story. And even action scenes are way more engaging if you're emotionally invested in the outcome.

However, the story question and emotional engagement are separate. You can have a good story question but find you don't care about the answer -- because you don't care about the people.

And in the opposite case, if you have no idea what direction you're going (no question to point the way), you can't guess what's going to happen next, which also makes you disengage -- even if you care about the people.

(And yes, there are good stories that show the ending first, which means you might know the answer, but remember, the plot isn't story -- it doesn't matter what happens, it matters how the characters react to it and change, on an emotional level).

That is a very YMMV thing - or at least, the part linking emotional engagement to interest in the story. Death Race 2000 is one of the most entertaining movies ever made. It's awesome. You could not make it better if you tried. The actual story is weak as all hell, and the only real question is "just what cocktail of drugs were they on when making this", but as a piece of entertainment it reigns supreme.

Book wise, I find David Eddings to be like that. The shape of his stories are very predictable after a bit. But I still find them really entertaining. A lot of Conan pastiches fit this mold too.

I'm not saying every story works like this. Or that great stories do. But there is a definite corner case where you don't have to rely on the question and hook.

4
Writers' Corner / Re: What makes a good story if its not the plot?
« on: February 14, 2020, 02:36:55 AM »

I think the most important part is that a story makes its readers look for an answer, which means early on it needs to pose a question of some sort (though not necessarily verbatim). And I think emotional change coupled with the search for that answer (and finding it) is central.


While I mostly agree with this, I don't think its hard to find exceptions to the rule, as there's a fairly lucrative market for stories where the question gets no deeper than what explodes next/who bangs who next. Great stories have a question, but its possible to get a long way with a story that's not great.

I think a question is a prerequisite for a story, but it doesn't guarantee a great story. It just triggers certain neurological functions that make us want to look for the answer, or any clue that points us in its direction (curiosity and pattern recognition).

So the question doesn't need to be deep. Whodunnits is a genre where the genre itself is the question; even before picking a specific book, the reader knows that the whole premise is finding out who did it. Whether the writer delivers the clues skillfully and at a good pace, presents believable characters, or writes pretty prose is a whole other matter -- just wanting to find out who the murderer will be enough for a lot of people.

So it's part of the structure of the story, but it's not the whole package (either of storytelling or writing).

Is it really a question though if the answer is completely beyond doubt and only exists to give a loose excuse a bunch of action scenes?

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Writers' Corner / Re: What makes a good story if its not the plot?
« on: February 13, 2020, 11:06:15 AM »

I think the most important part is that a story makes its readers look for an answer, which means early on it needs to pose a question of some sort (though not necessarily verbatim). And I think emotional change coupled with the search for that answer (and finding it) is central.


While I mostly agree with this, I don't think its hard to find exceptions to the rule, as there's a fairly lucrative market for stories where the question gets no deeper than what explodes next/who bangs who next. Great stories have a question, but its possible to get a long way with a story that's not great.

6
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What is sword and sorcery to you?
« on: February 13, 2020, 10:56:25 AM »
The original Conan stories are what I think of when I read the phrase. I've been meaning to read some Elric books as well, as they're supposed to embody it.

I'd have said Elric is part embodiment, part deliberate parody and inversion.

7
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What is sword and sorcery to you?
« on: February 13, 2020, 01:16:17 AM »
For me, it means the works of Howard/Ashton Smith/Leiber and what you find in them - high adventure, personal stakes, a high level of amorality, heroes who fight on their own (or maybe with one other), and 'ordinary' men & women pitched up against supernatural forces such as sorcerers, godlings, strange beasts and so on. It's very rare for the hero of an early S&S to be a sorcerer themselves - magic users are mostly the enemy.

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Writers' Corner / Re: What makes a good story if its not the plot?
« on: February 12, 2020, 01:27:35 AM »
Potential answers...

Sometimes its the words - be it a sense of beautiful poetry or a bunch of great one liners. Sometimes its the characters. Sometimes its the ideas.

I would like to add another element that can make it work and that is I've read and enjoyed books where the plot is very thin indeed but each scene on its own is fantastic. Tends to work best for works with a comedic element. If the reader is enjoying every scene, then they're not going to question a lack of plot all that much.

Finally... a plot can be pretty simple but work because step of the journey delivers the right emotional punch for the moment. Good plotting isn't necessarily all about originality and plot twists, like it's the leader guitar. Sometimes its simply about spacing out events and building a logical progression so that we aren't wtf'ing at the characters. Sometimes - maybe more often than not - the plot is the rhythm section, keeping it together unnoticed for the characters and worldbuilding and prose to act as the lead instruments.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Children Fantasy Books
« on: February 12, 2020, 01:17:58 AM »
I came here to say A Wizard of Earthsea and Redwall, so thankee Mr Nighteyes.

The Hobbit would be perfectly suitable for that age too, depending on what time of readers they are.

10
Perhaps we should have our own articles and such in forum which can be linked in FB, rather than wait to get published in main site.

For example, certain posters collaborate on a "women in fantasy" or "asian authors" etc etc and come up with a nice article, it can be linked in FB and possibly drive some traffic in here.

The thing about articles is they take plenty of work to do, then unless you've got a great publicity machine, receive bugger all attention. It's not a solid use of time unless you really like writing articles.

11
I haven't told people about this forum for a while and honestly, the last person I know who did kinda bounced here and I'd mostly push other people elsewhere.

But maybe if we want more traffic, maybe have a weekly topic or poll that is publicised on Twitter/FB? See if we can maybe get more people in that way?

12
Writers' Corner / Re: Non-linear storytelling and audience retention
« on: February 08, 2020, 02:28:35 PM »

Ultimately as a reader, if an author were to jump back to tell several stories that take place in the past, based on a character that we will assume is popular, before finishing the story as a whole, would this cause you to lose interest and give up on the story? I know execution is all that matters, but if someone told you about this series beforehand and that you need to jump back to some prequels before finishing the end of the series, in order to understand it all, would that be a negative in your mind?

TL:DR Is going back to write "prequel" novels (stand alone novels that cover previous adventures that add a lot to character development) regarding the main protagonist before the main story is completed a risk worth taking? Assuming the current story arc was wrapped up without creating too many questions that would leave the audience disappointied that they weren't address in the next installment.

The Deverry Cycle by Katharine Kerr is based on the idea of following a set of characters through reincarnations, with the result that a lot of the books features long sections about what happened to the characters in previous lives hundreds of years ago. Not separate prequel books, but close.

David Gemmell's Drenai series has a different publishing and chronological order. His first book turned out to be the 9th chronologically. It is preceded - chronologically - by the 10th published book. Now, all the books stand alone, and nobody knew that was the plan beforehand, but it is again close to what you suggest.

Mercedes Lackey did a similar thing with Heralds of Valdemar, and there is more of a narrative arc between her trilogies in the overarching series.

There's other examples if I dig deep enough. I think what you are suggesting is doable.

13
Bender, strangely similar, although straighten the corkscrews a bit more. And add beard 8)

And sorry, Peat; and Xiagan. Is it strange that if I don't like a book that people I really like and respect the opinion I feel guilty?
(Eclipse, this doesn't apply to you - don't worry, I still really like you ;))

No, it happens to me sometimes as well. It's like "I know you want me to like it, and I feel bad for letting you down".

14
My Friday was spent with a long bath and then combing all the knots out of my hair.

Now eating Chinese appetisers in bed with my wife and writing up some reviews.


Also, sad that Bea returned A Memory Called Empire, but happy we'll be getting a book I had anyway as well  ;D

How longs you hair , do you have a ponytail?, I wonder if Logen nine fingers had to comb out knots out of his hair after a battle.

Mid-chest area, it goes in a ponytail if I'm going to the gym or rugby. And either Logen had massive jankass knots or he spent half an hour combing it everytime he washed it, one of the two. Probably both.

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