The Well Written Story v The Good Story - Page 4


Page 4 of 24 FirstFirst 12345678910111214 ... LastLast
Results 31 to 40 of 238

Thread: The Well Written Story v The Good Story

  1. #31
    WF Veteran Squalid Glass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Posts
    1,731
    Blog Entries
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I really kind of hate the distinction because it doesn't feel like it should exist. I want to say 'great writing is writing that tells a great story competently'.

    But then I have a problem of accounting for the difference between the JK Rowlings and Stephen Kings of the world from the Fitzgeralds and the Faulkners.

    I always think putting down the difference to 'literary v genre fiction' as being a bit of a cop out because, as we often find, there's no much overlap between literary and genre fiction anyway, to the point one would wonder WHY Rowling/King could not be described as 'literary fiction' -- are they not good enough?

    And the answer is...they probably aren't good enough, I guess. In stylistic terms, at least. Stephen King is absolutely as good a storyteller as F. Scott Fitzgerald, as possibly a better one (subjective), but stylistically he probably isn't as good. Ergo, there must be a difference between high-end storytelling and high-end writing...

    But King, Rowling, Fitzgerald, etc. are/were all writing for different audiences and for different purposes. Genre isn't a cop-out because it determines style in a lot of ways. But there are some writers who write in the style of literary fiction while telling compelling genre stories. Atwood is a good example. Maybe that makes those writers truly great? I'm not sure.

    But I just don't think it's right to say one genre is great while another isn't or that sacrificing one aspect of great writing for the other aspect of it somehow invalidates something or makes it not great. I like to think of it like sports positions. It's hard to argue who is the greatest athlete in some sports because the positions within the sport are so different. They require different skill sets.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    But King, Rowling, Fitzgerald, etc. are/were all writing for different audiences and for different purposes. Genre isn't a cop-out because it determines style in a lot of ways. But there are some writers who write in the style of literary fiction while telling compelling genre stories. Atwood is a good example. Maybe that makes those writers truly great? I'm not sure.

    But I just don't think it's right to say one genre is great while another isn't or that sacrificing one aspect of great writing for the other aspect of it somehow invalidates something or makes it not great. I like to think of it like sports positions. It's hard to argue who is the greatest athlete in some sports because the positions within the sport are so different. They require different skill sets.
    And yet people do argue it and, to some extent at least, there is some consensus regarding who the truly great athletes are -- certainly there is consensus regarding who definitely isn't. Even the most ardent hater of the New York Yankees recognized Joe DiMaggio. Even English soccer fans respect Maradona's talent. On the other hand, absolutely nobody thinks the placekicker for the Cleveland Browns in 2008 was the greatest.

    I believe what tends to unite all the 'greatest' in any given sport is the athlete in question's ability to bring something profoundly new and significant to the game, to reinvent it according to one's ability -- I think those criteria are fairly analogous to the status, or at least the goal, of literary fiction.

    What I find puzzling is that genre fiction could do that as well. We know it's possible. Atwood would be a prime example of a genre fiction story written in a literary fiction style and arguably excelling on both counts. Stephen King? Maybe, sometimes. I feel like King actually dumbs his writing down, and having read his interviews I understand his reasoning: He doesn't care about writing beyond his level and, as a multi-millionaire in his seventies, doesn't care. That's fine, but what about the rest of them, and genre fiction as a whole?

    Is true that most bum-average, sold-at-the-grocery-store works of commercial genre fiction, even 'great' genre fiction, aren't exactly masterclasses in style. Some really popular novels read like high school term papers. Some are really good, though, and that -- for me -- undermines the argument that 'genre dictates style' and that this is a square that cannot be circled: If the reason for simplistic writing in a lot of science fiction is because the genre of science fiction requires relatively simplistic writing to be science fiction, then I don't know why Handmaids Tale got popular, because it is science fiction and yet reads like a literary novel and is popular across the board.

    The problem (and it isn't necessarily a problem) seems to be that the readers of genre fiction don't generally require really good writing and, because they do not require it, the writers don't have to provide it -- They just need to be okay at writing and have a really attractive concept and some good characters.
    Last edited by luckyscars; December 25th, 2020 at 06:09 AM.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    The literary fiction of Henry James has almost no "storytelling" and yet, due to the quality of the writing and characterizations, I still enjoy it.

    The literary genre as a whole has also always been full of insufferable nonsense, but thankfully, time washes that away.
    I also love Henry James!

    My two bits:
    I want my literature to show me new aspects of the human condition. A rawness and realness that makes me feel a greater understanding of myself and others is what I read for. I consider Middle March by George Elliot as the best novel in the English language. The plot means not too much. Character is everything in these works. It is critical that this type of writing be beautifully written, very deep, and to address moral dilemmas. I need to feel and to think deeply. I personally NEED whatever classics have. I can't even tell what aspect of them is the most important to me. They challenge me. They give me a greater sense of the meaning of life.

    But different people read for different reasons. We are all searching for the piece that brings us what we need. And I really need the well-written deep stuff and feel like I really can't do without it.... but there are also weekends that I want to read something magical or humorous or adventurous or a weekend that I want to make fun of a stupid Scottish romance.

    As for comparing great literature to general best sellers... Do we compare the Godfather to Earnest Goes to Camp? (I'm not sure if Earnest Goes to Camp is a bestseller, but you get what I mean). Of course there is a higher level of writing! if people can't immediately tell the difference well... that's okay for them. Have fun with Earnest. I do sometimes....you just won't hear me talking about how it should win an Oscar.

    It's good that we all need something different. Just like we all have different careers. Variety is the spice of life. But come on....we can TELL quality.... right? No? Right? Bleh... I guess quality has never been obvious to my best friend. But that's okay. I've never figured out why that is, probably just that she never learned to enjoy literature as a type of work is what I thought. Because I can tell and enjoy quality, does that make me a snob? I would think no based on my attitude. I've never learned to enjoy playing baseball or critiquing baseball players or enjoy working on the roof and understand what a good roof is like people I know. I do enjoy pulling weeds. Anyway, we've all got stuff. But I kind of think when you just naturally know you know... then you're interested in the right thing for you. But if you enjoy literature for adventure and relaxation and can tell what really checks those boxes for you and others then that's a talent itself. But for me I'm not going to compare Stephen King to Tolstoy.
    Last edited by Llyralen; December 25th, 2020 at 05:46 AM.

  4. #34
    WF Veteran Squalid Glass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Posts
    1,731
    Blog Entries
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    And yet people do argue it and, to some extent at least, there is some consensus regarding who the truly great athletes are -- certainly there is consensus regarding who definitely isn't. Even the most ardent hater of the New York Yankees recognized Joe DiMaggio. Even English soccer fans respect Maradona's talent. On the other hand, absolutely nobody thinks the placekicker for the Cleveland Browns in 2008 was the greatest.

    I believe what tends to unite all the 'greatest' in any given sport is the athlete in question's ability to bring something profoundly new and significant to the game, to reinvent it according to one's ability -- I think those criteria are fairly analogous to the status, or at least the goal, of literary fiction.

    What I find puzzling is that genre fiction could do that as well. We know it's possible. Atwood would be a prime example of a genre fiction story written in a literary fiction style and arguably excelling on both counts. Stephen King? Maybe, sometimes. I feel like King actually dumbs his writing down, and having read his interviews I understand his reasoning: He doesn't care about writing beyond his level and, as a multi-millionaire in his seventies, doesn't care. That's fine, but what about the rest of them, and genre fiction as a whole?

    Is true that most bum-average, sold-at-the-grocery-store works of commercial genre fiction, even 'great' genre fiction, aren't exactly masterclasses in style. Some really popular novels read like high school term papers. Some are really good, though, and that -- for me -- undermines the argument that 'genre dictates style' and that this is a square that cannot be circled: If the reason for simplistic writing in a lot of science fiction is because the genre of science fiction requires relatively simplistic writing to be science fiction, then I don't know why Handmaids Tale got popular, because it is science fiction and yet reads like a literary novel and is popular across the board.

    The problem (and it isn't necessarily a problem) seems to be that the readers of genre fiction don't generally require really good writing and, because they do not require it, the writers don't have to provide it -- They just need to be okay at writing and have a really attractive concept and some good characters.
    If we’re looking at genre fiction written in a literary style, then sure, I suppose that’s what we could look at as an example of great writing. And yeah, I think being able to do both is difficult, and not all authors can do it. At the same time, though, I don’t think all authors can write children’s books or YA fiction and make it work. These are all different talents, and authors either choose to write according to their own limits, or they find a niche that works for them, and they stick with it. Remember, too, literary fiction is usually more complex than most genre fiction. Not only more complex for the writer, but also for the reader. I suppose it’s easier to write a hit if it avoids some of the more complex aspects of high literary style. I wouldn’t want to judge an author if the question is more about motivation than ability.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  5. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    If we’re looking at genre fiction written in a literary style, then sure, I suppose that’s what we could look at as an example of great writing. And yeah, I think being able to do both is difficult, and not all authors can do it. At the same time, though, I don’t think all authors can write children’s books or YA fiction and make it work. These are all different talents, and authors either choose to write according to their own limits, or they find a niche that works for them, and they stick with it. Remember, too, literary fiction is usually more complex than most genre fiction. Not only more complex for the writer, but also for the reader. I suppose it’s easier to write a hit if it avoids some of the more complex aspects of high literary style. I wouldn’t want to judge an author if the question is more about motivation than ability.
    I suppose my question is: Why isn't genre fiction written in a literary style the norm rather than the exception? Why isn't the 'Atwoodian' approach to science fiction (i.e. it's science fiction, but written to a really high standard) the norm for all good science fiction, rather than some nebulous halfway-house? Why aren't standards higher?

    As horrible as it will sound, the only answer I can conceive of is that a large percentage of readers of genre fiction are generally not mentally capable (or not mentally willing, which is much the same thing) of reading much beyond a fifth grade reading level and many writers not capable of writing beyond it. Yeah, I know, it's horribly pompous shit...but we have to call a spade a spade at some point, right?

    Since it's possible to combine the best of literary fiction (strong voice, deep characterization, powerful imagery) with the best of genre fiction (rich ideas; imaginative; a story that actually feels like a story as opposed to meandering navel-gazing) then why doesn't this happen more? Not to say that every book needs to be 'high art', but...should this not be the expectation, certainly for those authors we are wanting to celebrate as the best?

    This question is slightly rhetorical, I guess, because we all know we don't live in that world.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I suppose my question is: Why isn't genre fiction written in a literary style the norm rather than the exception? Why isn't the 'Atwoodian' approach to science fiction (i.e. it's science fiction, but written to a really high standard) the norm for all good science fiction, rather than some nebulous halfway-house? Why aren't standards higher?

    As horrible as it will sound, the only answer I can conceive of is that a large percentage of readers of genre fiction are generally not mentally capable (or not mentally willing, which is much the same thing) of reading much beyond a fifth grade reading level and many writers not capable of writing beyond it. Yeah, I know, it's horribly pompous shit...but we have to call a spade a spade at some point, right?

    Since it's possible to combine the best of literary fiction (strong voice, deep characterization, powerful imagery) with the best of genre fiction (rich ideas; imaginative; a story that actually feels like a story as opposed to meandering navel-gazing) then why doesn't this happen more? Not to say that every book needs to be 'high art', but...should this not be the expectation, certainly for those authors we are wanting to celebrate as the best?

    This question is slightly rhetorical, I guess, because we all know we don't live in that world.
    Ages ago - I've forgotten where and when - one of my teachers said that most popular books are written at the eighth grade level (~ thirteen years old). I don't recall the context of that statement, but it stuck with me.

    It's surprising (and depressing) how many people I know that tell me that they don't read. I suppose they just stare at the television and play video games - which is a pretty sad life. Reading is too much effort for some - it's easier to wait for the movie or television show to come out. For me, and I'm sure everyone else here, reading is effortless, and the and the mental images that form in my mind as I read are far more detailed and interesting than anything in the theaters or television.

    Is humanity becoming less intelligent? What is our society becoming?

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I suppose my question is: Why isn't genre fiction written in a literary style the norm rather than the exception? Why isn't the 'Atwoodian' approach to science fiction (i.e. it's science fiction, but written to a really high standard) the norm for all good science fiction, rather than some nebulous halfway-house? Why aren't standards higher?
    I would guess it's because sometimes people/ readers want to read just for the pure entertainment of reading something. Those readers will more likely choose genre fiction. Not everyone wants to have their ideas challenged (as some literary fiction does) but would more likely prefer to read a good and interesting and entertaining story and be done with it. There's nothing wrong with that.

    The more literary styles, I would guess, are more for those who like to learn something new, who like to examine their ways of thinking and perhaps discover other ways to think. I understand that some genre fiction has pretty strict guidelines. I've also read that some genre writers use aliases so their genre work doesn't mix with their more literary work (I think I read that the great Kurt Vonnegut once used a pen name for his less literary work). I understand that genre work also pays the best. Writers, I think, try to supply what readers want and it seems to me readers, in their differences, often want different things.
    Free Download of My Chapbook: Flash Fiction: A Primer
    Hidden Content

    List Stories: Lists of the Literary Kind. See my essay at Hidden Content



  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Pamelyn Casto View Post
    I would guess it's because sometimes people/ readers want to read just for the pure entertainment of reading something. Those readers will more likely choose genre fiction. Not everyone wants to have their ideas challenged (as some literary fiction does) but would more likely prefer to read a good and interesting and entertaining story and be done with it. There's nothing wrong with that.

    The more literary styles, I would guess, are more for those who like to learn something new, who like to examine their ways of thinking and perhaps discover other ways to think. I understand that some genre fiction has pretty strict guidelines. I've also read that some genre writers use aliases so their genre work doesn't mix with their more literary work (I think I read that the great Kurt Vonnegut once used a pen name for his less literary work). I understand that genre work also pays the best. Writers, I think, try to supply what readers want and it seems to me readers, in their differences, often want different things.
    I'll counter this argument by saying that genre fiction often explores controversial subjects - racism, intolerance, totalitarianism, ... the list goes on. Science fiction especially does this - reminder that the first interracial kiss on television was on Star Trek, not Masterpiece Theater.

  9. #39
    best of both worlds. Give them what they want, fulfill expectations, and slide in an extra message
    Hidden Content

    A whole swathe of entertainment, all sorts of lengths, all sorts of stories, all with that 'Olly' twist.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I suppose my question is: Why isn't genre fiction written in a literary style the norm rather than the exception? Why isn't the 'Atwoodian' approach to science fiction (i.e. it's science fiction, but written to a really high standard) the norm for all good science fiction, rather than some nebulous halfway-house? Why aren't standards higher?
    Don't put it all on the readers, I do the best I can, but I know I am not going to be remembered for generations as one of the world's great writers. There are some who can write stories people want to read, rather than should read or will learn from, good luck to them, there is a place for that too.
    Hidden Content

    A whole swathe of entertainment, all sorts of lengths, all sorts of stories, all with that 'Olly' twist.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.