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1
Writers' Corner / Re: Non-linear storytelling and audience retention
« on: February 08, 2020, 09:12:49 PM »
>(stand alone novels that cover previous adventures that add a lot to character development)
This is the heart of the issue, for this reader. I don't care about a character's development *except* in the context of the story. If I want to read about previous adventures it's only going to be because the current story has made me care about them. So, interrupting the current story is only going to irritate me.

An example of doing it right: The Expanse. The authors (ignore the very good show; TV ain't novels) give us an exciting epic. We watch the four main characters develop over the course of several novels. Yes there's bits of background here and there, but always in service to the story.

Of course there's more to know, and Team Corey knew what to do. They published standalone novellas that are absolutely not necessary to reading the main story. They're there for folks who want more, and probably because those novellas were already half-written in authors' notes. Doesn't matter if the backstory is hundreds of years ago or two days prior to the story's beginning. They're in the past and they're not the story.

As for what you *should* do, just give it a go, whichever way you choose. Chances are high it won't feel right to you, and you'll rework it all anyway!

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General Discussion / Re: Art vs Artist
« on: February 05, 2020, 04:51:46 PM »
I'm not trying to persuade anyone here, and I don't read others as trying to persuade either; we're just trying to sort out and explain where we stand. So, with that in mind ...

I understand how knowing about the author can color one's enjoyment of a book. I read Glory Road and Starship Trooper as a young man and loved both. I read them again about a decade ago and not only did I see the heavy-handed political preaching there, I knew its context because I'd read some biographical information about Heinlein. I think that lessened my enjoyment still further. So, affected by external knowledge, sure.

I see that as different from knowing--let's keep using Heinlein--the political prejudice and then refusing to read that author because of that knowledge. Here I go back to my original point. If I'm going to make buying decisions based on the life rather than the book, then that's a moral judgment on my part. And if it's that important, it seems to my I am morally obliged to research every author before I read them. Which strikes me as absurd. But failing to do that strikes me as hypocrisy, or at best laziness. What, I'm only going to raise a fuss over things I learn by accident?

To go back to the first point, I do recognize that what I know of the life could cause such a strong reaction in me that I just might not be able to bring myself to keep reading that author. But that doesn't mean I would take to social media to condemn it or urge others not to buy the work. That smacks of puritanism, to me.

But it's all good. Folks can go ahead and take the positions set forward on this thread. I'll still like them. ;-)


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General Discussion / Re: Art vs Artist
« on: February 04, 2020, 05:54:32 PM »
Good grief. We may as well start picking what we read based on what football team the author supports.

I just finished reading another novel by Nevil Shute. Every one of his novels (I've read several) has been memorable and genuinely touching in a way I've not encountered with any other author.

Should I read his biography? What if I find out he was a terrible person? How do I un-read someone? Is it enough to vow never to read another? Should I confess publicly? Go on a campaign to enlighten others to the terrible truth? How deep does my outrage extend?

I repeat: good grief.

4
Writers' Corner / Re: Emotional connection to writing content
« on: February 01, 2020, 05:23:48 PM »
>don't need to empathise with your characters
I didn't see anyone suggesting quite this. Bender was talking about feeling the actual emotions of the character in that situation--feeling sadistic or sexual pleasure were the examples given. Even that I didn't read as a prerequisite but more as a side effect or an unexpected consequence during the actual writing.

My response, perhaps not stated as clearly as it could have been, was that I don't really recall feeling emotions while writing, but sometimes I've shared an emotion with my character during a re-read. Still rare, but more commonly, I've felt the emotion that I was hoping to evoke in my readers with a particular line. That's satisfying.

But I've heard of people weeping or laughing (usually it's weeping) as they write some especially emotional scene, so it does happen.

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Writers' Corner / Re: Emotional connection to writing content
« on: February 01, 2020, 04:23:47 AM »
I don't feel much of a deep connection. Sometimes if I write a funny line, when I come back and read it I might laugh, or at least chuckle. I've only killed off one MC, but I did choke up a bit on a re-read. I feel some fond affection for this or that character--usually a secondary one with a bit of pathos.

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General Discussion / Re: Art vs Artist
« on: January 30, 2020, 05:12:41 PM »
If the author is deceased, we surely are no longer supporting them in their behavior, right? I can see the logic for living authors, but for ones who are dead?

It does seem like a lot of work. Art comes in many forms and has many creators. I'd spend half my life researching the morals of others.

But everyone gets to make their own choices.

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General Discussion / Re: Art vs Artist
« on: January 30, 2020, 02:46:01 AM »
Every assigned reading to students they were unhappy with? Ever made an exception?

I'm not sure to whom this is addressed, nor how it connects with ethical objections to an author's personal life or views causing someone to decide never to read them. Help me out; I'm slow sometimes.

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Small Press & Self-Published / Re: Medieval History
« on: January 29, 2020, 06:58:26 PM »
I bet you thought after seven crusades that was all. Hah! Here's one that is often overlooked. It doesn't even get a good name. It's the crusade for everyone who blew off the First Crusade then thought oh crap we really should have done that and got the t-shirt.

http://europeanmiddleages.info/crusades/1101/

As ever, the full list can be found here
http://europeanmiddleages.info/toc.shtml

Also as ever, comments and questions are welcome!

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General Discussion / Re: Art vs Artist
« on: January 29, 2020, 04:54:18 PM »
>A big difference in reading academic works often from a less tolerant past for work or knowledge and perspective than reading fantasy for fun.

And what is that difference? If we are judging an author on their personal life, and making buying and reading decisions based on that, whether the book is fact or fiction seems irrelevant.

I hold, also, to my previous point. If we are going to judge authors on their personal life, if it's really that important, then we are surely obliged to research each and ever author we read before even buying the book. If it's important, it shouldn't be a matter of what we happen to learn about them accidentally.

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General Discussion / Re: Art vs Artist
« on: January 29, 2020, 04:23:31 AM »
Not an issue for me. I've read some history books written by some very unpleasant people. I've read primary sources written by some even more unpleasant people. I'm quite certain I've read and enjoyed books written by people who took their secrets to the grave.

I'm not going to refuse to read something just because I happen to know something about that person, whereas I'm willing to read another even though I know nothing about them.

The only way to hold a consistent position is to research every author thoroughly before reading anything they wrote. I should point out that you are reading me, right now.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What did you read in January 2020
« on: January 29, 2020, 04:20:22 AM »
Bue Prometheus, by Ned Marcus. SF/Fantasy with plenty of magic

The Dragon's Path, by Daniel Abraham. An ok fantasy, heavy on political intrigue with a good subplot involving a banker (yes, you read that right). Was shocked to find the story was actually only half the book, with the other half being filler (interview, plus a draft of the first volume of The Expanse). Ticked me off that I paid $10 for that.

Mastering Amazon Ads, by Brian Meeks. Best book on nuts and bolts and data.

Faerie Rising, by A.E. Lowan. Not quite done but neither is January. This book pleasantly surprised me. If you like urban fantasy with lots of magic, you'll enjoy this one. Well written.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Fantasy-Faction Facebook Group
« on: January 17, 2020, 03:24:16 AM »
Cat fights, pfft. Dog fights, any day! <g>

I don't think it's age, I think it's the format. Conversations on FB are nearly impossible because of the format. Same goes for Twitter, and Instagram isn't even in the running. Anyone who thinks a picture is worth a thousand words should try having a debate on Instagram. *chortle*

When I taught online, I used forum software. Started out with PCBoard (talk about old!), then WebBoard. Only went to Blackboard when the university forced me to do so. IT people should not be allowed anywhere near education, says the teacher who worked in IT for 30 years.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Religion in Fantasy
« on: January 16, 2020, 06:22:22 PM »
>Red/Grey/Holy sister books are weird. Despite set in a monastery and all characters are sister/nuns, it has almost zero religion.

There you go, that's an example of what I mean. The author chooses the setting because he has certain assumptions about what it is to be a monk. So he gets ready-made a whole structure of oppression and regulation and rules. And that's fine. You can tell a good story within that. It's not that author who bothers me, it's that almost no one seems able to see further.

>Even Atheism is ultimately a faith, a religion, because there is no scientific basis for belief or rejection of the idea of a God, gods and there is the problem of morals.

Just a small note here. I wish there was the word Antitheism because that's what I see in most people who identify as atheists. There's nothing intrinsic to being atheist that leads to being critical of religion. In a specifically Christian context, it means someone who has not heard the Word, who hasn't experienced a conversion. That's a peculiarly Christian thing. To be a Muslim, you need only declare yourself to be one and to observe the rules of the faith. Similarly with Buddhism. Judaism is odd because there's an identification as a people--inheritance--but there's still a door open to converts. I'm not at all sure about Hinduism, but for the most part I think it's a birthright. Anyway, Christianity is unusual (unique?) in that it insists on a spiritual conversion.

I mean, right there, without even going into sects and heresies, is a rich panoply of religion and individual and society.  IMO, the reason why it doesn't get done much is because we're fundamentally secular as a society. Religion doesn't resonate, save for the one area of religion as oppression and exploitation. To go further would require the book to do a bunch of hard work bringing the reader into it.

How many modern readers are going to be moved by Pierre's spiritual crisis in War and Peace? How many will think the issues raised in Narcissus and Goldmund are interesting? Or can feel the epic scale of A Prayer for Owen Meany?

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Religion in Fantasy
« on: January 16, 2020, 01:40:31 AM »
>Would you write real life religion into your fantasy books ?
I do. It hasn't been central to any story I've told so far, but I can see a couple of places where it might be. So, not in the next book, but down the road, maybe. I write historical fantasy, so the raw materials are there.

Fantasy writers by and large do poorly with religion. Many think "religion" is the same thing as church, theology, doctrine, and practice. They tend to think there's a clear line between religion and superstition, and overlook the wide range between formal doctrine and popular belief. They also tend to present a religion as if everyone believed the same things in the same ways. In short, they have a shallow view of religion.

Secondly, fantasy writers use organized religion as a scapegoat. They take all the worst elements and manifestations of historical religions and make these normative. They also vastly overestimate the power of a church to dictate belief and practice. In short, they have not only a shallow view, but an overblown one.

I'm an atheist. But I'm also a medieval historian, and you don't get far in that field without taking people's beliefs seriously. Religion is filled with wonderfully rich fields to explore. Alas, too many writers only want to go into the one field, stand in the middle of it, and shout.

The above (and more) explains, at least to my own satisfaction, why so many fantasy works do such a poor job of representing religious practices of non-humans. We and SF writers have this extraordinary opportunity to explore religious themes *without* explicitly referencing known religions. SF writers do a much better job than we do.

Anyway, what was the question? Oh. I would answer: yes.

15
I can think of two current examples. One is Josiah Bancroft's Books of Babel series. It's about a man whose wife disappears in a crowd. He is absolutely dedicated to finding her again. Along the way he undergoes many changes, and he's certainly not trying to save the world. And it's a world filled with fantastic fantasy.

The other is SF, but it's so fantastical I think it earns a place here: James S.A. Corey's The Expanse. The main character has a set of ethics that he adheres to. They're wonderfully ... not quite naive, but plain. Everyman ethics. Jimmy Stewart sort of ethics. He does not waver, though he is fiercely challenged in his beliefs and he can doubt himself without wavering. Adherence to those ethics cause *huge* consequences. With a different set of ethics, he'd make a good villain.

Anyway, these books get written. I don't think they are any fewer than in earlier times. When we recall the reading of our youth, we tend to recall what is good, forget what was forgettable, and overlook the fact that *most* books back in the day we never read in the first place. And alot of it was garbage.

And, of course, this being a writers and readers forum, the conventional advice applies: go write what you want to read.

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