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  1. #106
    Kiss my axe! kahnovitch's Avatar
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    oops!
    I thought I'd said that already!
    Must have been a late night after-the-pub-session that blurred my recollection.
    Feel free to delete my last post about that Thorne guy. I wouldn't want to look like I'm out here pimping or anything.

    Juzzedit: I will delete the second one, you were less gushy in it

    Kahn edit: Cheers mate. Will have to stay away from the forum when intoxicated in future.
    Last edited by kahnovitch; January 27th, 2005 at 11:37 AM.

  2. #107
    Lost in a large book nicba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye
    ...I am getting to the place where I think a story is about change. If nothing changes from beginning to end, there is no story.
    Yet it seems to me that there's a lot of stories where the point is to preserve status quo, to insure that no net change really occur.

    It's the old fairy tale formula: "The world is in Harmony. Then something Really Bad happends. Then the hero goes on a Quest to Rights the Wrongs. Then the hero prevails, the harmony returns and everyone live Happily Ever After."

    A lot of quest-type fantasy fits that formula (David Eddings, Tad Williams' Memmory Thorn and Sorrow, The Hobbit, Lord of The Rings ect.). Some SF too. And even crime litterature (A murder occurs, everone is disturbed, detective goes on quest to catch the murderer, murderer is apprehended, everyone can go back to their ordinary life).

    Even though there is some forward motion in these stories, it's not so much a change from A to B as it is a circular motion from A and back to A. Sometimes the characters have grown (changed) somewhat during their ordeal, but not always. A detective seldom changes very much during a case, for example.

  3. #108
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Wildeblood was talking about Stephenson's novel "The Diamond Age," not his "Snow Crash." People who like "Diamond Age" often don't like "Snow Crash" and vice versa, and people who like both of them often don't like his historical thriller adventure "Cryptonomicon." Stephenson varies what sort of approach and structure he's using a lot.

    A number of writers agree with Wildeblood's philosophy that stronger writing comes from reductionist streamlining or tight adherence to theme/focus of all elements. We talked, some may remember, on another thread about the spartan school of thinking where minimalization across the board is desired, though that's not exactly the style that Wildeblood is advocating.

    The idea that there are a limited number of plot structures used repetitively is also an old debate. A writer I know, William Noble, did an interesting book for Writers Digest in the nineties called "20 Master Plots." The idea there was that there are 20 master plots writers use. Another popular school of thought in the sf/f community is the three plot theory -- that there're only three forms of plot: man against nature, man against man and man against himself.

    Whether you agree with one of those ideas or not, though, I'm not sure it makes much difference to writers in constructing stories.

  4. #109
    Light, sweet, crude. Wildeblood's Avatar
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    For some reason, I can't find the link...

    After I posted that remark about the Mary Sue moment in Diamond Age, I went searching on the web for - but could not find - an article I had read where the giver of scholarly advice said: whenever you see the words "for some reason", it is an indicator that the author has lost track of the plot, painted themselves into a corner, and is unwillingly to throw away what they've written and go back to the point where they got lost.

    The example he gave was of the detective who gets captured by the bad guys when, for some reason, he forgets to take his gun along to the impending gunfight.

    I had hoped to follow up with a link to that article before anyone posted any more replies, but you know, the best laid plans... Seems the link got thrown out in the Great Bookmark Cleanout I recently held. If anyone else has read the same advice and can provide a link, please do.

  5. #110
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    But a Mary Sue is a character based on everything the author wants to be... or someone who is unnaturally perfect and pretty and popular... which is what you're saying Nell is... unless you're saying Neil wanted all the boys to ask him to dance and so he is writing Nell for Neil... see the similar names. And if that is the case, I'd just like Neil to know... I think he is pretty and I'd ask him to dance.

    But I haven't read Diamond Age.

    I have read Snow Crash and I say the message board poster that you know would've had to be a very serious type and looked very hard to find a perfect definition of a Mary Sue. Or maybe I'm just too old to think a cool teen is admirable.
    Last edited by Rocket Sheep; January 27th, 2005 at 08:57 PM.

  6. #111
    Light, sweet, crude. Wildeblood's Avatar
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    President of Karen Tso fan club declares Chinese eyes sexy, but NOT "exotic"...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Sheep
    But a Mary Sue is a character based on everything the author wants to be... or someone who is unnaturally perfect and pretty and popular... which is what you're saying Nell is... unless you're saying Neil wanted all the boys to ask him to dance and so he is writing Nell for Neil... see the similar names. And if that is the case, I'd just like Neil to know... I think he is pretty and I'd ask him to dance.
    Ah, but I didn't say the book was a Mary Sue (IMO, it is an "and then plot", as I said earlier), I said it contains a "Mary Sue moment". One which is so clumsy that it jarred this reader right out of the book.
    But I haven't read Diamond Age.
    It's interspersed with passages "from the Primer", conveniently printed in a different typeface. They're supposed to be allegorical, but after a while just become boring. The editor, at the publisher, should have told him to lose most of them. One begins on page 326.

    "Lordy, lord, not another one. I'll skip over it."

    Page 329. Oops, it's 8-10 years later, how did that happen? Oh well, read on...
    Maturity had given her any number of features that would draw the attention of the opposite sex, and of women so inclined. Commentators rarely failed to mention her eyes, which were said to have a vaguely exotic appearance.
    Oh, good grief, not the "vaguely exotic" eyes! Get me out of here! We were already told at the beginning that she is Eurasian, it is set in a future Shanghai after all, so why is that "vaguely exotic"?
    ...she had not been the prettiest girl at the dance, and certainly not the best dressed or most socially prominent. She had attracted a crowd of young men anyway.
    WHY? Why weren't the young men crowding around the prettiest girl, the best dressed girl, or the most socially prominent girl? They had fallen under the spell of Nelladee's aura of smooth, the mysterious hypnotic force that causes other characters to behave in an irrational manner whenever Mary Sues are around.

  7. #112
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    Ah, I see, now. Just a moment of Mary Sueism. It helps if we're all talking about the same thing. Shame... I wouldn't've minded a dance with Neil.

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