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Thread: The Well Written Story v The Good Story

  1. #51
    Member LadySilence's Avatar
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    I prefer to write a good story.
    What a story, well written.


    A good story lasts over time, regardless of how it was written. I think it's every writer's dream.


    Ágota Kristóf, wrote wonderful books, without ever mastering the language well.
    My dream? Being able to enter people's hearts with words: giving emotions and dreams.
    JK Rowling (Harry Potter) has been rejected more than 10 times Remember, don't give up!
    Thank you all for the help you give me to improve my English.

  2. #52
    When we talk about Mary Shelley being a good writer, are we talking about the book? Wiki said that Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus is widely read, but looking it, that's hard to believe. Isn't, for just one example, the dialogue stilted? Or the suspense mangled? Or too much telling?

    The start. For those who haven't read the book, this seems to be a frame.

    Letter 1

    To Mrs. Saville, England.
    St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—.

    You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

    I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There—for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators—there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle and may regulate a thousand celestial observations that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.
    Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools not Rules is finally published and available for $3 Hidden Content . Should be mandatory for serious writers, IMO. Italics, Fragments, Disfluency, lists, etc. But also commas and paragraph length. Discussed use of adverbs, and ends with a chapters on the awesome moment and the grammar of action scenes. Description at my Hidden Content

  3. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    When we talk about Mary Shelley being a good writer, are we talking about the book? Wiki said that Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus is widely read, but looking it, that's hard to believe. Isn't, for just one example, the dialogue stilted? Or the suspense mangled? Or too much telling?

    The start. For those who haven't read the book, this seems to be a frame.
    Writing styles change over time - a lot of modern readers find Great Expectations, Moby Dick, and the like hard to get through. The cause of this may be that we have a shorter attention span these days.

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    When we talk about Mary Shelley being a good writer, are we talking about the book? Wiki said that Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus is widely read, but looking it, that's hard to believe. Isn't, for just one example, the dialogue stilted? Or the suspense mangled? Or too much telling?

    The start. For those who haven't read the book, this seems to be a frame.
    For me? Even just this little clip is absolutely delicious. I’m very used to reading the books of the 1800’s but her style is very innovative. If we were comparing her to people writing today for... let’s say 12th grade audience now, her style in my opinion still seems fresh and evocative.

    Whose writing could we compare with from today? Probably Ian McEwan or Cormac McCarthy or Toni Morrison. The greats. In my opinion her style is holding up beautifully compared to these and her plot is much more exciting. But I don’t think we have a truly great science fiction writer right now. Asimov asks some questions but his work does not address ethics and morals to the degree she does and his questions are not as big or persistent. Mary Shelley really had vision. Maybe Orwell. Maybe Kafka, but then we are talking about past greats still. I'd say she wins out in the area of providing new ground-breaking and persistent questions over writers like Charlotte Bronte, but Bronte's style is probably better. I do want to read Mary Shelley's other works because she was only I think 18-20 years old when writing Frankenstein.

    There is such a thing as quality written at a lower reading level. There’s a lot of really good young adult fiction. The Tale of Desperaux. A Winkle In Time, etc.



    Edit: Okay, so I talked to my husband who doesn't read classics. He said,


    Him: "I hate to tell this to you, but I think you know that you are in a small minority. I think it just seems dense and inaccessible to me. Is this an IQ thing?"

    Me: "I don't think so. You're brilliant. My friend BJ is brilliant and she's never understood quality writing. I think it has to do with whether people have learned to put in the work of reading things that challenge their way of thinking. And I think it's really important. I think this is why reading is important is to be able a more compassionate and thinking person and all of us become beter."

    Him: "Right, those are the greats. People who produce social change. Like Tolstoy's War and Peace. Doesn't everyone bring up War and Peace almost as a by-word for what is inaccessible? But I don't write in order to produce social change."

    Me: "No, but your writing is more like Shakespeare's. He didn't write for social change either. He wrote for entertainment but them put poetry into it. And he did deeply explore the human condition. So there are different reasons to write or read. War and Peace is absolutely amazing, by the way. I would think that you'd love it."

    Him: "Maybe you just have to categorize the different kinds of good writing. Why they are good and in different ways."

    Me: "That's what I think"

    Him: "I don't know why I never learned to enjoy classics. I think it had to do with being forced to read To Kill a Mockingbird in one week in high school. I didn't understand it and I hated it. "

    Me: "This is what I think, that there is a certain way of learning to read that might not be getting taught well and people aren't getting good experiences. I'm not sure exactly what it is."


    As an after-thought, I don't think critical thinking is getting taught in schools either and I don't know if those 2 ideas go together or not. I started to look up information on critical thinking in schools and the researchers were saying that it doesn't have to be this way AT ALL because critical thinking is what makes you successful in any field, but for some reason it isn't until people get to their Master's Degrees before the type of questions that lead to critical thinking skills start to be asked. And critical thinking skills in real life are needed at every age. Multiple choice is basically the opposite of critical thinking and WRITING is the only thing in grade school that requires critical thinking. And here we are.
    Last edited by Llyralen; December 28th, 2020 at 12:34 AM.

  5. #55
    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein doesn't stand out because it questions how we use science. It stands out because it questions our view of monsters.

    I take umbrage at the opinion genre readers are lazy. The scifi and fantasy fans I know are very creative, intelligent, independent minded, educated, well read and while they have their heads in the clouds, they also have their feet on the ground.

    Literature can be beautifully written, but it's not the most efficient way to tell a story.

    All too many literary classics are a waste of the paper they're printed on.

  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by MistWolf View Post

    All too many literary classics are a waste of the paper they're printed on.
    Lol, what?

  7. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by indianroads View Post
    Writing styles change over time - a lot of modern readers find Great Expectations, Moby Dick, and the like hard to get through. The cause of this may be that we have a shorter attention span these days.
    So true! I use to select a book by it's thickness, because I preferred the read to last longer if I was going to invest my time in the characters. I remember when Shogun was such a best seller and it had 1152 pages. According to 'Book in a Box': 64% of number one best-sellers are in the 200-400 page range since their list began in 2014.

    What has happened to our attention spans? Is it the internet? Email? Cellphones?




    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  8. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    Lol, what?
    What I wrote is clear enough. Not every book considered a literary classic is worth reading.

    Which are and which are not is subjective.

  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    So true! I use to select a book by it's thickness, because I preferred the read to last longer if I was going to invest my time in the characters. I remember when Shogun was such a best seller and it had 1152 pages. According to 'Book in a Box': 64% of number one best-sellers are in the 200-400 page range since their list began in 2014.

    What has happened to our attention spans? Is it the internet? Email? Cellphones?
    IMO the answer is yes... all of those. Television too - all those channels, there were only 3 channels available where I grew up. I also grew up in a household where the television only came on at night, after my father arrived home from work.

    How many more people have watched the Expanse series on TV vs. those who have read the books?

    Many people have told me that they don't read... at all, which seems like saying that they don't breathe.

  10. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by MistWolf View Post
    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein doesn't stand out because it questions how we use science. It stands out because it questions our view of monsters.

    I take umbrage at the opinion genre readers are lazy. The scifi and fantasy fans I know are very creative, intelligent, independent minded, educated, well read and while they have their heads in the clouds, they also have their feet on the ground.

    Literature can be beautifully written, but it's not the most efficient way to tell a story.

    All too many literary classics are a waste of the paper they're printed on.
    You miss the point spectacularly.

    The point isn't that 'genre readers are lazy' in any sense other than they don't seem to require their writing to be high in quality and, in fact, seem to prefer writing that is pretty basic, juvenile even.

    For example, here is an opening from The Oppenheimer Alternative, a science fiction novel by Robert J. Sawyer. I picked this because it is modern (2020) and Sawyer is a Hugo and Nebula winner. So this could be described as 'as good as it gets'.

    "You're bad luck for me," said Haakon Chevalier. "I hope you know that."
    Robert Oppenheimer looked at his friend, seated next to him on the pink-and-green living-room couch as the party bustled about them. Oppie's sense was the exact opposite: Hoke had brought him nothing but good fortune, including getting him into this offbeat rooming house here on Shasta Road. "Oh?"
    "Absolutely. When I go places without you, I'm considered the attractive one."
    Oppenheimer made a small chuckle. Chevalier, who had just turned thirty-five, was three years his senior, and was indeed movie-star handsome: gallant, as befitted his last name, and long of face, with wide-spaced eyes and sandy hair swept back in a slight pompadour.
    By comparison, Oppie knew he himself was scrawny, his tall body angular, his coarse black hair a wild nimbus, and his duck-footed gait awkward — one friend had described it as a constant falling forward as if he were forever tumbling into the future.


    Now look, I'm not here to say this is bad writing. It isn't bad writing. It's perfectly competent writing. But it's also pretty basic. There's nothing here that makes you immediately go 'oooh'. It's functional, competent, JK Rowling-esque prose. "Movie star handsome"?

    And, bear in mind, this is an award winner. By definition, most science fiction isn't as good as this. Most of it is far worse than this.

    That isn't to reflect on any other aspects of the writing, though. The ideas in this story are good, arguably far more intriguing than much literary fiction. The characterization is fine. It's an easy sort of read, it's a fun read and it's an exciting, action packed storyline. None of that is being disputed whatsoever.

    My question is: Why is it not possible to do both? Does being literary, or 'writing well', have to be in conflict with writing intriguing ideas and/or an action packed storyline? You could possibly argue that literary merit comes at the expense of that, but then you have to explain Atwood, also a 'science fiction author' but a highly literary one. Here is an excerpt so you know what I mean...

    We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in miniskirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style, an undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper flowers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light.
    I don't think many people would argue that isn't better writing than Sawyer. We can perhaps disagree as a matter of taste, but consider that even if we dislike the style that it objectively has more inventiveness of language, more depth of description. There's no 'he was movie star handsome' type stuff. At the risk of sounding a snob, it's closer to 'art'. It is thick with emotional depth and voice. It positively drools it's literaryness.

    Sawyer would probably say his priorities when writing are to convey his ideas efficiently. And I agree, he does that just fine. But I wonder why the need is to do so in quite so simple terms quite so constantly, if not because his readers simply don't want to have to read more challenging material.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

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