The Well Written Story v The Good Story - Page 8


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Thread: The Well Written Story v The Good Story

  1. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Can you write genre fiction that feels literary? Yes.

    The question, however, is should you write genre fiction that feels literary?

    Unless your name is F. Scott Fitzgerald, I'd seriously recommend you didn't.
    Thanks, but I'll shoot for the stars, anyway.

  2. #72
    Old English is basically Anglo Saxon English, so it was dominant for about five hundred years from about a hundred years after the Romans left until 1066 when the Normans got here speaking French.

    All languages change all the time, but the process is slowed down when there is a written form. People have found that 25% of proper nouns in a language without writing will change in a thirty year generation. I always reckon that shows in slang, which is mostly used verbally; how many words can you think of for a joint, doobie, reefer, or whatever you call it?

    Change happens two ways, there are new words for things and old words take on new meanings. You can spot the one's changing their meaning, pedants insist on the 'old' meaning. When I was younger they would insist that 'nice' meant 'precise' for example, nowadays everyone accepts the meaning of 'pleasant', even if they still understand what a 'nice argument' is. What is often the case is that the meaning the pedants are insisting on is not the original one, but an earlier change.

    Words with changed meanings and things with changed names could make for an interesting thread.
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  3. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    Thanks, but I'll shoot for the stars, anyway.
    The problem with shooting for the stars is if you miss, there’s nothing to break your fall.
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  4. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Can you write genre fiction that feels literary? Yes.

    The question, however, is should you write genre fiction that feels literary?

    Unless your name is F. Scott Fitzgerald, I'd seriously recommend you didn't.
    Okay, but why? It's not a trick question or anything, I do not understand the perceived lack of market or why these things should be considered as separate entities?

    As somebody who strongly prefers genre fiction storytelling but finds it often so poorly written it distracts/annoys, I find myself often literately (not literally!) homeless. Reading for me is often a choice between subject matter that really interests me and writing style that really moves or challenges me. I don't think I should have to be making those choices on a regular basis.

    I think this is actually quite a common thing. I would actually estimate a writer like Stephen King's popularity is in large part because of this: It's horror for readers who don't like 'ordinary horror'. My grandmother dislikes genre fiction generally, but quite likes some Stephen King books (The Green Mile, Misery, etc.) and it's clear to me it's because King is writing his genre fiction 'for grownups', so to speak. There is a literary pedigree to at least some of his work, as well as an emotional depth that doesn't feel 'standard'.

    One could say the same thing for nearly all genre breakout stars: George RR Martin, Bradbury. These are writers who, to some extent, are able to transcend the genre fiction/literary fiction gap. They aren't just competent writers with great concepts and characters and worlds, they are also able to actually make their concepts/characters/worlds feel, to varying extents, like they have a place in the literary canon. A lot of that comes down to the simple fact they are great writers, but I also feel the approach of Bradbury is vastly different to standard science fiction. It feels like he is approaching genre fiction in a more mature manner.

    Or...?
    Last edited by luckyscars; December 29th, 2020 at 01:01 AM.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  5. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    The problem with shooting for the stars is if you miss, there’s nothing to break your fall.
    Very poetic. I'm still gonna go for it, though.

  6. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post

    You also say nice things about her writing style. I am trying to imagine you liking that style, and I think I can do that, but it's difficult. Is it any different than anyone else from that time?

    Were they similar? Did you ever read Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus?
    LOL! Yeah, I have a pretty tattered copy of Frankenstein. I think I first read it when I was 20. It's hard for me to imagine not liking Mary Shelley's style. She has a style that was unusual for her time and even now is fairly unusual and in my opinion innovative. It forces you to put yourself into the character's circumstances, imo.

    Classics are my jam, but if you compare her quotes to other books being written at the time (and mainly I like those too) but Ivanhoe, Last of the Mohicans.... they aren't as good and don't stretch you as much.

    She could best be compared to Charlotte and Emily Bronte; and I think both of them, who wrote a few decades after Mary Shelley, might have been heavily influenced by her. Jane Austen wrote just a few years before, but Jane's writing (as much as I also have my tattered copies of her books too) were about a narrow slice of life compared to Mary Shelley's more expansive reach. She asked some of the best questions out there in any literature. She wrote the first science fiction book ever and the major questions it brings up about ethics with our creations as humans are still relevant. That's pretty darn amazing.

    I pulled a few quotes off of GoodReads:
    "Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it."

    "I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other."

    I love that passionate invasive first person POV style of hers.
    Last edited by Llyralen; December 29th, 2020 at 04:31 AM.

  7. #77
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Yeah and I would also want to clarify: I'm not saying there isn't a place for basic writing styles, there is.

    All I am saying is it doesn't seem as though there should be a stark a difference between most genre and literary books given it is possible to write genre fiction that feels literary...
    I don't understand how you do both. Everyone claims this is poorly written. How would it be rewritten to be both literary and genre (action?). So you would want an action start, with the same information, and presumably no increased word count. If you say the same information in more words, you have diluted the action. I mean, I have no idea how you make this literary.

    Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.
    As he had anticipated, a thundering iron gate fell nearby, barricading the entrance to the suite. The parquet floor shook. Far off, an alarm began to ring.
    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

  8. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    I don't understand how you do both. Everyone claims this is poorly written. How would it be rewritten to be both literary and genre (action?). So you would want an action start, with the same information, and presumably no increased word count. If you say the same information in more words, you have diluted the action. I mean, I have no idea how you make this literary.
    You piqued my interest, here, because it sounds like a challenge. lol.
    Bram Stoker's Dracula is really terrifying at the beginning (then it does get boring with the letters) but it's literary. It takes a lot of skill to create that kind of terror, imo.

    I think you could make the quote you've got closer to literary if there were pronouns.. The author kind of just worked hard at calling the same guy multiple variations on his names and the author over-dramatizes the action verbs. It's almost hyperbolic. To make this quote interesting and mean something (like great literature does) you would want your character to have a clear motive and... maybe to be somewhat torn over his decision? You have to have some kind of conflict and characterization anyway.

    Here is your challenge quote:
    Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece off toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas. As he had anticipated, a thundering iron gate fell nearby, barricading the entrance to the suite. The parquet floor shook. Far off, an alarm began to ring.


    Here is my stab to add conflict and character (and pronouns). for FUN, guys!

    Under the old archway Jacque paused. He stared vaguely at the first painting on the wall and thought about how differently he would have thought about his situation when he was younger. He would have been superstitious, as if committing sacrilege, apologizing in his mind to the ghost of Caravaggio and making the sign of the bull behind his back. He had been the head curator for the museum for 49 years. How differently he now felt about dead artists! When the night guard came, would the man even believe that this was Jacque Sauniere stealing? Or would he just think old Jacque must have been out wandering, wiping dust off of masterpieces in his sleep and that there had been some kind of an accident? Jacque pulled one side of the frame off the wall. It took more arm strength than he had thought and the canvas fell on top of him while he plied the other side. Alarms went off has he had anticipated. The parque floor shook, an iron gate fell nearby to trap a thief.
    .
    (It would be easy to clip the word-count down, like just taking out the italicized sentences. I just wanted to address the idea that in the clip it sounded like the guy knew he was going to be caught... and I don't know anything that is an anti-suspenseful as knowing that a guy wants to be caught... unless the danger would be in not getting caught....That's what it seemed like from the "as anticipated" alarms. He wants to get caught, right?)


    If pure action and no conflict or character... that's fine. You can just simplify it, let your questions get addressed at other times.
    Jacque slipped under the archway and took the nearest painting. Alarms went off. The parque floor shook and an iron gate fell, blocking his way.

    I don't know.... I hope someone else tries! If I knew what the author was going for then I think I'd be able to make it even more interesting.

    Count of Monte Cristo has some great action scenes. Action and great writing aren't strangers. At least I didn't think so. And I like all those old French page-turners like Three Musketeers and The Scarlett Pimpernel and Phantom of the Opera . Action books don't have to be poorly written or lack psychological conflict, I didn't think. Oh and I love romantic well-written thrillers like Mary Stewart's The Moon Spinners.

    Or what about Edward Allan Poe? What about the Tell Tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado ? I did read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair but I didn't read There Will Be Blood.... but there has got to be plenty of action in there. Cormac McCarthy, The Road. I don't think it necessarily has to be great writing to be well-written. I bawled when I read the first Hunger Games and there's plenty of action, but it's not horribly written. There is conflict. There is characterization. There are pronouns. IT CAN BE DONE lol.
    Last edited by Llyralen; December 29th, 2020 at 08:55 AM.

  9. #79
    Quote Originally Posted by Llyralen View Post
    And I like all those old French page-turners like Three Musketeers and The Scarlett Pimpernel and Phantom of the Opera . Action books don't have to be poorly written or lack psychological conflict, I didn't think. Oh and I love romantic well-written thrillers like Mary Stewart's The Moon Spinners.

    Or what about Edward Allan Poe? What about the Tell Tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado ? I did read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair but I didn't read There Will Be Blood.... but there has got to be plenty of action in there. Cormac McCarthy, The Road. I don't think it necessarily has to be great writing to be well-written. I bawled when I read the first Hunger Games and there's plenty of action, but it's not horribly written. There is conflict. There is characterization. There are pronouns. IT CAN BE DONE lol.
    I have a [good]/[unfortunate] tendency to be a natural mimic. After I read (a translation of) The Three Musketeers in Jr High, I had to restrain myself from talking like the musketeers. It slipped out from time to time. (Call me a nerd. It won't be the first time I've heard it).

    I've made some controversial statements from time to time, so why stop now? I understand the topic of literary vs. genre, but I think it applies less often than some discussion supposes.

    I read two qualifications for "literary fiction": (1) exploration of the human condition, and (2) hoity-toity prose.

    How much more exploration of the human condition do we really need? We get it from every sort of media. Plus, humans haven't changed all that much since the dawn of recorded history. Sure, some of us are more civilized, but if we still saw an advantage to human sacrifice, it would be "on the table". {he he}. When the chips are down, basic human psychology boils down to (with rare exception) "every man for himself". We already know that. We're at the point where virtually every presentation of every media virtue signals. We're overwhelmed with it. So maybe we can dispense with #1. It's played out.

    For #2, I've read plenty of "genre fiction" produced by wordsmiths ... and wordsmiths who don't lean on run-on sentences as proof they harbor literary aspirations. Earlier in this discussion I read of an author regarded as "literary and genre". I hadn't happened to read the author, and after sampling that author's work in exploration, I won't read any more of it. Paragraph-long sentences don't do it for me. And somehow, I fail to see how endless allusions to irrelevant observation carries the narrative. Yeah, there's a miniscule market for that, and I'm not that market.

    Then there was the discussion of literature written for the 8th grade reader. I believe it. It's not what I've ever read much of. I have an extensive vocabulary, proven by the experience of sometimes having friends ask "what does that word mean" (when they're brave enough). Authors I've always preferred challenged me with vocabulary. Some I learned in context, some I looked up, and occasionally I thought I learned in context, but later learned better. My preferred genres are sci fi, heroic fantasy, and mystery. Somehow, I find plenty of authors who challenge me in those genres, and that's not easy to do ... especially after 56 years of reading that sort of author. I also find authors in those genres who write beautiful prose without sublimating themselves to the "rules" of literary style (ne: overwritten rubbish adored by critics. See: The Emperor's New Clothes).

    So yes, there are popular authors who write great stories with atrocious plotting and pedestrian prose. Later authors overcame those limitations and produced some great fiction. I've read both, but I read much more of the latter.
    Last edited by vranger; December 29th, 2020 at 09:35 AM.

  10. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by Llyralen View Post
    Under the old archway Jacque paused.
    It was not a fair contest, methinks. Thanks for trying. I choose an action scene on purpose. You slowed it down a lot with thoughts and reflections, about the past and future. Not what a man running for his life would do. So, fair contest or not, you took the action out of an action scene.

    About a month ago I saw an action scene with a metaphor in it. That did not seem to work well either. So I'm not sure adding imagery is going to work either, if that's a feature of literary.

    And now that I think about it, I can't imagine a more literary rewrite of the kiss scene from a romance book. It seems that reflections about the past and future would take all the passion out of the kiss.

    I suppose Brown was trying to create a mystery -- why was the curator of a museum ripping down a painting? And then mystery two, why did he want the gate to come down? You were trying to resolve those mysteries. That of course could have been a problem of context.
    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

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