The Well Written Story v The Good Story - Page 5


Page 5 of 24 FirstFirst 1234567891011121315 ... LastLast
Results 41 to 50 of 238

Thread: The Well Written Story v The Good Story

  1. #41
    I was just reading that one common reason agents don't take on certain manuscripts is because the authors don't understand the genre the books belong to. Many times rejection comes about because the authors have categorized their books incorrectly. Here's a quotation:

    "If you’re a novelist, it doesn’t matter how compelling your story is or how clean your writing is. You won’t get a literary agent to represent you unless you categorize your book correctly. Label your novel with the wrong book genre(s) in your query letter and you run the risk of getting “false positives” that will only lead to rejection. In other words, if you unwittingly submit your query to the wrong agents and they ask you for more material, they’re going to reject it when they realize your book isn’t what you said it is. And, those agents probably won’t tell you why they’re rejecting your book."
    https://literary-agents.com/commerci...-other-genres/


    That surprised me. (At this same site are simple definitions of literary, commercial, and mainstream.)
    Free Download of My Chapbook: Flash Fiction: A Primer
    Hidden Content

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



  2. #42
    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 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.
    I think you’re right. It’s no different than movies. Why are the most profitable films the simple ones? Audiences demand them.
    "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."

  3. #43
    Not sure if this applies but I took a screenwriting class and all the students had to follow a certain movie story structure with certain story beats throughout, because these are the storybeats that almost all movies have. One student who graduated with top marks nailed every beat exactly, where as a lot of other students missed a beat here and there, and couldn't hit them all, myself included.

    But even though he nailed all the beats, I didn't really find the script to be that interesting. It was entertaining in parts. It was a comedy so it had laughs and gags, some that were effective and funny. But as a story, I just didn't think it was that interesting, nor did it stick with me after, since I remember gags, but cannot remember anything else about it really. My work was probably not better either, but I can't judge my own work compared to others.

    But I feel that even if you hit all the beats exactly, you can still come up with a story that is average and forgetable in the end? Well written but not good?

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Pamelyn Casto View Post
    I was just reading that one common reason agents don't take on certain manuscripts is because the authors don't understand the genre the books belong to. Many times rejection comes about because the authors have categorized their books incorrectly. Here's a quotation:

    "If you’re a novelist, it doesn’t matter how compelling your story is or how clean your writing is. You won’t get a literary agent to represent you unless you categorize your book correctly. Label your novel with the wrong book genre(s) in your query letter and you run the risk of getting “false positives” that will only lead to rejection. In other words, if you unwittingly submit your query to the wrong agents and they ask you for more material, they’re going to reject it when they realize your book isn’t what you said it is. And, those agents probably won’t tell you why they’re rejecting your book."
    https://literary-agents.com/commerci...-other-genres/


    That surprised me. (At this same site are simple definitions of literary, commercial, and mainstream.)
    Well yeah, regarding genre, I think an awful lot of the time writers pick their book's genre based on what they would like it to be rather than what it actually is.

    If you're going to label your book as horror, you better damn well make sure it meets the expectations of horror. And 'my book is a historical psychological horror-thriller with elements of science fiction' isn't going to fly.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  5. #45
    It's part of the reason I am considering recording my book and making it a podcast; I have no idea what genre it is, it doesn't fit anything I can think of.
    Hidden Content

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

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Not sure if this applies but I took a screenwriting class and all the students had to follow a certain movie story structure with certain story beats throughout, because these are the storybeats that almost all movies have. One student who graduated with top marks nailed every beat exactly, where as a lot of other students missed a beat here and there, and couldn't hit them all, myself included.

    But even though he nailed all the beats, I didn't really find the script to be that interesting. It was entertaining in parts. It was a comedy so it had laughs and gags, some that were effective and funny. But as a story, I just didn't think it was that interesting, nor did it stick with me after, since I remember gags, but cannot remember anything else about it really. My work was probably not better either, but I can't judge my own work compared to others.

    But I feel that even if you hit all the beats exactly, you can still come up with a story that is average and forgetable in the end? Well written but not good?
    Common story beats are just one way to write a story. Modern screenwriting has fallen into a trap where people have begun to think that it's the only way, which (in my opinion) is a terrible approach to creativity.

    It gets tiring, to me, whenever I watch a Romantic Comedy, for example, and I can tell you exactly at what minute the "race to the airport" sequence will begin.

    Or the "all is lost" plot turn, between the midpoint and the 3/4 mark, followed by the inevitable "dark night of the soul", where our hero meanders around, feeling defeated. Soon this will be followed by a "kick in the pants", where our hero's friend or mentor will show up and give them a pep talk, or a new resource, to help them realize the thematic message, and propel then into the third and final act . . .

    And so on, and so forth.

    I spent years learning and memorizing it, but now I kind of hate it. Because it's not creative thinking; it's formulaic regurgitation.

    There are literally endless ways to tell a story. But modern screenwriters seem to think that there's only one way.
    Last edited by Kyle R; December 26th, 2020 at 04:39 PM.

  7. #47
    Yeah I concur, and trying to hit all those plot points is difficult in my opinion cause I find my characters making decisions that prevent all the beats from being hit at the right spots.

  8. #48
    Genre writing can also be "great writing", imo. Tolkien, Mary Shelley. Bradbury, Orwell. Genre doesn't exclude greatness, imo. I'm speaking as a reader here, but I think the difference is.... I made this point before, I guess I just felt unheard.... but great literature makes you WORK. It challenges you. It holds up a mirror forcing you to look inward or at your society. It should make you examine yourself and if you need to change, that's the aim. How well it does that is how you measure the efficacy of that work (i.e. greatness, imo). It doesn't even have to sacrifice plot (speaking of Mary Shelley), although most adventure stories are not going to challenge your mind effectively in this way but it CAN.

    Isn't it probably correct to say that not everyone has learned to like being challenged? Not everyone wants to contemplate the need for change or growth? Not everyone reads for that or has learned to look for that either, most people want to relax at the end of the day. I do too sometimes although for some reason what I really want often is to be challenged. Different reasons to read different things. But isn't the difference clear to everyone? (Ugg, no?)

    It doesn't even have to be serious. Making fun of society and of how people think can be the challenge. I think the new Borat movie was very quality because of how it really holds up that mirror. To me that was as well done as anything Mark Twain was doing in his day. I think Mark Twain would have loved it. Good job, Sascha! I also had my longest laugh ever at the dancing scene. We've got to just meet the social dilemmas, stigmas, and biases of our times and challenge them to do important writing. Does that sell? The great stuff doesn't always sell...and sometimes the morality of something misses it's mark. At least The Jungle got some sausage regulations in the USA. Sorry to bring in more shows, but even "Arrested Development" only got 3 seasons (until the Netflix re-do) because it was "too thinky". But great stuff seems to always be a slow burn. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is as pertinent today about science ethics versus scientific capability and questions about the human condition as ever. Being challenged usually sticks in your brain the way a good campfire story won't.

    There is also a lot of really great YA fiction that challenges us and who doesn't remember the Newberys (or whatever) that they read in their growing years and feel that those make up who they are? It stretches us. I do kind of think that if I'm not striving for that then I would be whiling away my finite time here on earth... but I don't know... it's hard for me to imagine that the improvement of the human individual (or society in general, however you want to think) isn't important. I guess there are people who don't feel like books change them? So why would they think it was important to be challenged? But books that challenge have brought strong change in increments, imo. Dickens challenged the way people thought about poverty and children. Charlotte Bronte was probably the first novelist to unabashedly say she was a man's equal. I can be grateful for the way the world works now, imo due to writers. Do we even think we would understand anything about the Holocaust if writers had not made it special and relatable in film? They made it so that we were able to put ourselves into the victim's shoes. We haven't known about other genocides much because those weren't chosen to write more about in the USA (compare Armenia and the USA's own American Indian population which I don't think there has been NEARLY enough about) Am I repeating things everybody knows and feels? Or no? Great writing is essential to the progress of the human race. The narratives we tell ourselves shapes what we will do next. Who we decide to have sympathy for is very much at the mercy of our whims as writers. And film right now is really how the masses hear a story. It can make or break things for minorities, etc.

    Okay, I'll stop. This has a lot of gravity to it for me, but it's why I care about finishing that novel before I die. It's not for a "good story", It's to make a difference.

  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Llyralen View Post
    Genre writing can also be "great writing", imo. Tolkien, Mary Shelley. Bradbury, Orwell. Genre doesn't exclude greatness, imo. I'm speaking as a reader here, but I think the difference is.... I made this point before, I guess I just felt unheard.... but great literature makes you WORK. It challenges you. It holds up a mirror forcing you to look inward or at your society. It should make you examine yourself and if you need to change, that's the aim. How well it does that is how you measure the efficacy of that work (i.e. greatness, imo). It doesn't even have to sacrifice plot (speaking of Mary Shelley), although most adventure stories are not going to challenge your mind effectively in this way but it CAN.
    Nobody said it couldn't. In fact, it's the fact that it CAN that fuels this conversation. Because if it CAN then why DOESN'T it more often?

    The writers you quoted, none of them are typical of their genres in terms of literary acumen. Mary Shelley is not typical horror writing (assuming we are classifying it as horror -- not sure it is). Bradbury is basically known for being 'weirdly good' for a science fiction writer (assuming we are classifying him as that). These are exceptions. Most horror writing isn't very good at all. Most of it is okay in the sense it's not bad, but it's primitive and stylistically unchallenging. Ditto fantasy, romance, all of them.

    Why is that?

    Isn't it probably correct to say that not everyone has learned to like being challenged? Not everyone wants to contemplate the need for change or growth? Not everyone reads for that or has learned to look for that either, most people want to relax at the end of the day. I do too sometimes although for some reason what I really want often is to be challenged. Different reasons to read different things. But isn't the difference clear to everyone? (Ugg, no?)
    I'm not willing to personally coat the hard truth of 'people are lazy and kind of dumb' with the sweet sugary coat of 'people have not learned to like being challenged'. I understand the empathetic angle, but we have to be honest I think and accept that modern genre readers are generally quite lazy, stupid or both when it comes to the actual quality of what they read.

    You could argue that some of it is more about ideas and...maybe? I don't think that's really relevant, though. Why not have both? Everything? Again, I agree in general that the best stories are usually genre-fiction, so this isn't about bashing everything that isn't literary. I find most literary fiction awfully humdrum. But the writing quality in genre fiction still usually sucks. It just does. And it doesn't need to suck (because not all of it does suck...) which means this is a choice somebody is making somewhere, which means it is irksome.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Nobody said it couldn't. In fact, it's the fact that it CAN that fuels this conversation. Because if it CAN then why DOESN'T it more often?

    The writers you quoted, none of them are typical of their genres in terms of literary acumen. Mary Shelley is not typical horror writing (assuming we are classifying it as horror -- not sure it is). Bradbury is basically known for being 'weirdly good' for a science fiction writer (assuming we are classifying him as that). These are exceptions. Most horror writing isn't very good at all. Most of it is okay in the sense it's not bad, but it's primitive and stylistically unchallenging. Ditto fantasy, romance, all of them.

    Why is that?



    I'm not willing to personally coat the hard truth of 'people are lazy and kind of dumb' with the sweet sugary coat of 'people have not learned to like being challenged'. I understand the empathetic angle, but we have to be honest I think and accept that modern genre readers are generally quite lazy, stupid or both when it comes to the actual quality of what they read.

    You could argue that some of it is more about ideas and...maybe? I don't think that's really relevant, though. Why not have both? Everything? Again, I agree in general that the best stories are usually genre-fiction, so this isn't about bashing everything that isn't literary. I find most literary fiction awfully humdrum. But the writing quality in genre fiction still usually sucks. It just does. And it doesn't need to suck (because not all of it does suck...) which means this is a choice somebody is making somewhere, which means it is irksome.
    Mary Shelley is the mother of Science Fiction, I thought. Did anyone predate her? Jules Verne was born a bit after her, I thought (just confirmed yes with wikipedia) And she wrote Frankenstein at a very young age. So yes, she's the mother and her book is still the metaphor for the questions we still have. Very innovative.

    Why not more interesting combos more often? Hmm. Could it be that most people are imitators and fail to ask the big questions? There's a lot of milk with only a bit of cream? There is a reason these authors are the "greats".

    Yes, I'm trying to allow space for different reasons for reading. Flat out, I don't understand why people don't seek to be constantly growing due to literature and don't seek to see the world from as many voices and perspectives as possible. Oh dear.. actually I do... but everything goes back to Jung's cognitive theories (personality theory) for me. There are a lot of people who don't like change, I guess, who are protective of what they have and who might not even think much about personal growth or societal growth.

    There are also films that can change people's awareness without people even realizing it. I've heard that with atrocities we can't think empathetically in large numbers. We aren't made for it, supposedly. Genocide of 6 million is too big, it means nothing to us cognitively until we tell the story of one little girl in a red coat and what happens to her. We learn about people's situations and about our world best through stories about people. Stories in film are going to be very important to unify us all, I would think. We have to be careful that it isn't heroic nationalism like what fueled WW2.

    Some stories that I think have great adventure and also some moral challenge might be The Count of Monte Cristo (adventure but some of that story is about forgiveness... that could be done better). Hunchback of Notre Dam . Handmaid Tale is getting quite the revival and Atwood's stuff is boring and doesn't move imo.. it became repetitive imo and started to not challenge me. The show is more exciting and actually asks more societal questions (better challenge) ... although she does so well at building that dark gloomy landscape. And then there are all these awesome YA fictions, especially Newbery winners, that challenge and are interesting to read. A Wrinkle in Time. The Giver. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, etc. They are awesome. I'm so grateful for those.

    Jung also said that you can change the world through powerful symbols better than you can through politics (or something close to that), so that is definitely something to keep in mind about the importance of writing. I think people can become symbols. Martin Luther King is a symbol in himself for most people, for instance. The girl in the red coat from Shindler's List is a symbol.

    I'm always trying to think of what stories need to be told. Definitely we need more in the USA from our undocumented Latinos. I do feel like I know what is going on in that culture and how important they are to our economy and I know most people have no clue and do not understand their contributions and think that they are gaining from our system more than they are contributing which is a huge misconception. I would think that a lot of very exciting stories could be written from perspectives of refugees. I know it. I used to work with refugees. I loved every minute of it and count it one of the best privileges of my life. Amazing true stories to people in front of me!-- adventurous stories at that! But they are heart wrenching. Actually J. K. Rowlings said working with refugees was what kept fueling parts of Harry Potter for her as she said something about refugees being real heroes. I agree with her on that completely.

    I know that I'm sitting on a story that really does get at the heart of some questions we are facing with social media and our technology right now. The idea came to me in 2006 and it is still very relevant now just more so. Soon Elon Musk will have invented things that will give the whole thing a more scary edge, maybe? I won't say more on that... but it is also an exciting story. Enough so that I am a bit torn on it. I don't want it to miss it's mark like Sinclair's The Jungle did. I don't want people just getting scared like as if you'd compare it to the movie The Net which now looks ridiculous. When the metaphor first came to me then I wanted to put the story in a fantasy quasi-just post King Arthur times kind of thing (magical Britain 500-600 AD). It's just that it could be fantasy or I could set it in the very near future when what would have been magic in the fantasy actually starts to become available. The plot is adventure (kidnapping, etc... honestly just a tad like the movie Taken with Liam Neesen except without a Liam Neesen character and instead a small military force). I did not think of Taken when I was writing my fantasy chapters, but the plot makes a metaphor providing a huge question that has been discussed without a name on The Social Dilemma on Netflix. If I place the story into the future then I think people will focus on their fears of new emerging technology instead of thinking about these questions about how to deal with the arising problems born from our new technology and the problem is surly going to persist with our current trajectory. It's not even a named problem yet in real life. So I'm a bit on a fence... but I should probably act on writing it before too long here since Musk is gonna catch up to some of the ideas at some point (he's got plans) and when he does these problems are going to be even bigger... not different though... we've got these problems here now and I saw them emerging the first time I heard the nightly news quote a Tweet in 2006. I know I'm sounding mysterious but I'm bringing it up because I am actually worried that an adventurous plot (although the plot IS a metaphor for questions I want people to ask) is going to make it so that people don't get the right message. There is something we can DO. It's a worry for me and makes me want to maybe go back to the fantasy idea which would likely not sell as well... but the metaphor can hardly be missed if I placed it in fantasy. Ugg... or I hope it won't get missed. Why is my faith on this like a 20%? Not due to me, but to people not using critical thinking skills because we don't do a good job teaching critical thinking in schools especially with the advent of multiple choice questions. Of course my writing skills might totally wreck it too, who knows? I haven't written it yet. Only bits.
    Last edited by Llyralen; December 27th, 2020 at 11:30 AM.

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.