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Thread: "Cliched Trash"

  1. #61

    Thoughts on cliches

    You want to know what bothers me about cliches? The whole harping on them that has been occurring for last several years. Yes, there are a lot of cliches, yes they get used too frequently and too reflexively, but the genre has been moving away from that and has been for a long time. One of the boards I get a huge kick out of reading is the Amazon fantasy board which is full of indie authors that are constantly trying to plug there books and in general haven't read anything since the 80s. They seem to all believe the genre only has Tolkien clones. In general, the Tolkien clones have been dead since about 1990. Tolkien clones have never had as many books out as their detractors would like to believe. There are some people that think George R.R. Martin was the first fantasy writer to kill characters unexpectedly.The clones have simply sold better than other books. Cliches are powerful and satisfying. And simple, straight forward writing sells better than convoluted writing.

    The reason no one hears of these authors, is that they write nothing worth discussing. Which muddies the point, as the other examples (Eddings / Brooks etc) are actually somewhere near the high end of cliched fiction, as shown by the amount of discusion they generate.

    But in any B&N the shelves are overflowing with authors i've never heard of, all on the 2nd or 3rd book of a fantasy series, that will sink without a trace of critical or fan appreciation. These are the books with all the cliches in and that enforce the conception that cliches are intimately tied to bad writing.
    There are definitely a lot of authors that will sink without a trace but some of these authors sell very well. This board just tends to focus on a particular subset of authors in fantasy. This forum also seems to be predominantly male which causes discussions to focus on male authors more frequently.

  2. #62
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    This forum also seems to be predominantly male which causes discussions to focus on male authors more frequently.

    You saying that male readers are more likely to enjoy male authors more?

    Personally I prolly have more favourite female authors than male. Favourite meaning authors who I continue to read beyond one or two books and buy in HB.

  3. #63
    Yes. That's what I am saying. I am aware that it doesn't break down one hundred percent along gender lines but in general male readers prefer male authors.

  4. #64
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psylent View Post
    Yes. That's what I am saying. I am aware that it doesn't break down one hundred percent along gender lines but in general male readers prefer male authors.
    This is such an odd statement. In my experience around here, most of the male readers prefer GOOD authors. Of course, most of the female readers also prefer GOOD authors.

  5. #65
    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    This is such an odd statement. In my experience around here, most of the male readers prefer GOOD authors. Of course, most of the female readers also prefer GOOD authors.
    No, most readers prefer authors they think of as GOOD. In general, that means authors that connect with the reader in an emotional way. In many interviews I've seen authors say something along the lines of "I write the kinds of books that I would want to read". Which of course means you have males writing books they would like to read and females writing books they would like to read. Many of the most popular fantasy series revolve around thinly disguised male power fantasies.

    I'm not suggesting that this means males don't like female authors and that females don't like male authors but as groups males and females will tend to gravitate towards authors of their gender because those authors are more likely to strike an emotional cord with the reader or be concerned with issues that are of interest to the reader.

  6. #66
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    So in your view, what are the characteristics that make males like a book and what are the characteristics that make females like a book?

    Or, what are the characteristics of "male" writing and likewise for "female" writing?

  7. #67
    Wasn't there a thread (or, more likely, more than one) about this not too long ago? I sort of want to chime in but I'm reluctant to contribute to thread drift.

  8. #68
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Is this the one you have in mind, Liane? I recall threads of that sort, as well, but can't put my finger on them.


    Why do Women Read Fantasy?

  9. #69
    I think there was one that was specifically about male authors vs. female authors, but my Google-Fu is failing me so sure, that'll do. Thanks for digging it up.

  10. #70
    males and females will tend to gravitate towards authors of their gender because those authors are more likely to strike an emotional cord with the reader or be concerned with issues that are of interest to the reader.
    I completely agree.

    Its not to say female readers cannot strike a deep emotional cord with male readers or vice versa. We are all human beings after all. Its just the likely-hood of it is higher if your a the same sex. Women tend to understand women better, men tend to understand men better.

  11. #71
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    Maybe it comes down to the idea that a majority of male writes have male lead characters, and a majority of female authors have female leads? Though, i would assert that for female writers, the ratio is way closer to 50/50 (female lead vs male lead) than male writers. So maybe males prefer males writers as a by product of preferring male leads? This is a generic statement, though it does apply to me. I do read some novels that have female leads, but i bet my collection of 500+ books is 85% male-lead. Due purely to me being a guy and being able to relate more to that viewpoint.

  12. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    This is such an odd statement. In my experience around here, most of the male readers prefer GOOD authors. Of course, most of the female readers also prefer GOOD authors.
    I completely agree. When selecting a book by an author I haven't read before, I care more about the protagonist and theme of the story than I do the gender of the author.

    When deciding whether or not to read another book by that author, I take the same things into account and simply add how much I enjoyed the previous story to that mix.

    Now, there are admittedly guys who don't like a lot of stuff by female authors, but I believe that is content-driven and not "I don't like stuff by women" driven.
    Last edited by Jester; June 16th, 2008 at 03:08 PM.

  13. #73
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    Interesting assertion, Psy. I would tend to agree with it. It's generic and not meant to be all inclusive, but I think there is some truth to what you say. There are predispositions that exist in the teenage years for certain types of writing. For instance, Stephanie Meyer is selling a lot of books to teenage girls, but I would doubt to teenage boys. Paranormal and chick lit is mostly written by women and probably consumed by women. Most comic books would seem to be geared to teenage boys but not teenage girls. Certain types of adventure stories (the kind with lots of guns and easy women) probably appeal more to men then women. These are all extremes, but it does make a point. Those extremes are still present in many, if not most people, but hopefully in an abated form.

  14. #74
    I'd say the lead character tends to be a good indicator of whether a book is more likely to resonate with a female or male readership. In general males prefer a focus on conflict, you know action, adventure, and killing. Females tend to like more relationship centered stories, romance and family tend to play a much more important role. Conan the Barbarian is a great example of a male story. It features a total wish fulfillment character that runs around solving problems by killing things and then at the end of the story banging the nubile hottie he picked up along the way. I've never meant a female Conan fan, I'm sure they are out there, but the stories are definitely male-centric. I don't think Howard ever said to himself "I"m going to write a story for males!" I think that is just the way things turned out. Similarly Stephenie Meyers may have not been writing particularly for females but that is the way it turned out.

    To drag this discussion back on track, my initial comments about gender and reading were aimed yobmod who seemed to be implying that the reason certain books don't get discussed is because they are full of cliches and not worth talking about. I think there is a whole host of reasons books don't get talked about and very little of it has to do with the quality of the book or how many cliches get used.

  15. #75
    Yobmod Yobmod's Avatar
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    To drag this discussion back on track, my initial comments about gender and reading were aimed yobmod who seemed to be implying that the reason certain books don't get discussed is because they are full of cliches and not worth talking about. I think there is a whole host of reasons books don't get talked about and very little of it has to do with the quality of the book or how many cliches get used.
    True. I was pointing out to those that don't believe the cliches are so common that there are many thousands of books each year that do contain many of these cliches, which can be seen by reading a few of their blurbs at random. The books discussed here have undergone a (-n unofficial) selection process, to that those with too many cliches are filtered out as "bad" books. But others are cliche-free and just bad. And still others are great and ignored (although not many imo).

    But i don't agree that these books aren't discussed because they are by female authors. The thousands of undiscussed books each year contain many male authors.

    However there have been a number of threads on this board in which male fans expressed a preference for male writers. And this also shows up in every "best of" and "poll" thread ever (excepting the "favourite women threads". The bias definitely exists - i don't see the benefit in denying it.

    (Like ChrisW, women outnumber men amoungst those i consider my favourite writers).

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