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Postby Manji » Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:23 pm

aldan wrote: As for the other stuff, well, if you don't want to read my response as I've reasoned it out.... I really don't see that I am so much a person that refuses to be contradicted. Instead, I am like you. If someone disagrees with me, I will defend my side of things. Isn't that what you do??


Aldan, you did not reason anything out. You laid it there and said, "I'm right." and then when I pointed out why I did not think you were right, that you were speaking for every reader on earth with your "We" comment, you talked down to me like I'm some ignorant hillbilly. [language edit. Bmat]
As for the rest of your comments, I really don't think you know what you're talking about.
Now, I'm going to make ANOTHER post dissecting the rest of your comments. [flaming and threats are not allowed. Bmat]
Buddy, I hate to break this to you, but you're the one who basically called me a moron because you used a stupid generalization. Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Stupid, ignorant generalizations are for stupid, ignorant people and should not be brought into serious discussions.
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Postby Manji » Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:58 pm

aldan wrote:Please note: the following are my opinions. 1) I don't say they're gospel, and they shouldn't be taken as such...

2) I think we're looking at character as two different things here. Those, like me, who believe that characters are what make the novel, well, I at least see characters as making the novel go, making it move, doing the things that cause the plot that is being worshiped to move. It is their personalities, their backgrounds, their strengths and weaknesses that move the story along usually. If the character is engaging, then even if the plot's one that you've seemingly read several times before, you will still want to read it because the character that the good writer has created is one that you want to succeed, and you want to see it happen. It's when the characters are cookie-cuttered that a reader will start to roll their eyes, because they almost always WILL have seen the basic story told many many times before, and if the reader doesn't really connect in any way with the characters (it's this way for me, at least), then that book likely won't get much wear and tear.

3) Now, am I saying that plot's unimportant? Nope. Not at all. What I'm saying is that for me, if the characters are weak, I won't care much about the plot. When I say "weak", though, I don't necessarily mean single-faceted, like the ones in the LotR were. Instead I mean "weak" as in they are ones that are hard to like or connect with, due to their being not human enough to connect with, if they're supposed to be human, or then if they are too human when they're supposed to be aliens or different species. For all that many of the characters in the Tolkien novels were fairly one-dimensional (which I think was done for a purpose by Professor Tolkien), they were still very much "human" while still having their own racial distinctions that kept them fairly interesting for the reader to keep following in the novels.

4) In any case, the professor's strengths laid in his ability to describe his world as well as the strong and deep background that he gave to that world. The story, or plot, if you will, was not groundbreaking. It was the world he created and the races and creatures he created that made it stand out for readers, since there'd been no such things as "dwarves" or "orcs" in novels before then (they'd been "dwarfs"), and "elves" were much different from what had been shown before the novels (when they were called "elfs") by other myths or authors.

5) In any case, for every writer there is a different thing that he/she will concentrate on, usually, because each of us has his/her own strengths and weaknesses and will tend to write in a way that will take advantage of the strengths in our writing styles.

6) As for the other stuff, well, if you don't want to read my response as I've reasoned it out.... I really don't see that I am so much a person that refuses to be contradicted. Instead, I am like you. If someone disagrees with me, I will defend my side of things. Isn't that what you do??

7) "It's not your characters, how flawed and well rounded and altogether human they are. It's how they react with one another..." That part of your sentence there tells me that we're on different feet in regards to how we view characters. To me, a character isn't "Joe Mama is a seventeen year old high school student that has English, Football, Spanish, Trigonometry, Art and US History in school and has a sixteen year old girlfriend named Trisha that hasn't gone all the way with him." Instead, a character takes that info and explores "why". Why is he taking Art? How about Spanish? Is he a good football player? Has he lettered in it? Is he playing because he enjoys it or is it something that his father pressured him into doing? Is he dating Trish as a holdover girlfriend until he can build up the courage to ask Jenn out? You can go on from there. Basically, that stuff is character stuff and really rounds him out. Some of the things, like Art or Spanish or even the Football, could possibly be used in the storyline to make things happen (plot), but they are tied also with his character.

"There is no black or white, there are only shades of gray."


I've taken the liberty to number these, as to make my job and the reader's job easier.

1) If your opinions are NOT the gospel, please stop treating them as such.
2) Aldan, the whole "Most readers are going to have already read the basic plot" sounds like the words of someone who has no originality in them. I'm sorry, but you can't take the LotR story and put new, quirky characters into it and make it good. This is why fantasy is failing. Because all stories are all the same and They have a few characters with twists. However, it still comes down to the plucky elf, the disgruntled dwarf and the scared hobbit/changeling. Everyone has seen every character and every plot.
3) Now, weak characters do indeed ruin a book. However, overly strong characters do as well. If you spend forty-five minutes reading about Johnny's flaws, then no one is going to care about the plot because they will be lost.
4) Okay, you understand that the world was important. So, you read a book with one dimensional characters and enjoyed reading about the world more than the characters? Wow! Contradiction!
5) Exactly, Aldan, but to say that people (Not you, but people as a whole. Not I, but we) prefer character driven stories means effectively putting down the people that concentrate on plot. In the future, use proper grammar when conveying your opinions instead of making it sound like you're forcing them on everyone. If being disagreed with makes you mad, fine. I'm not disagreeing. I'm correcting your grammar usage. You do that crap all of the time. However, I'm going to let the fact that LotR, a book with one dimensional characters, is one of the best selling fantasy books of all time speak for me rather than my opinion. It was fun! That's why people do anything, including reading, because it's fun and entertaining. It's how they get their kicks.
6) Has been adressed in the previous post.
7) Aldan, if you're reading a war story and a man goes out of his way to save his friend, does he need a reason to save him besides the fact that it's his friend? That's what I mean. Why did Sam brave Mt. Doom in the end? To save Frodo. Why? Simply because he was his friend. Why did he continue on alone with Frodo at the end of the first book? Because he was his friend. It's for that reason that the readers began to care for Sam. Okay, ther was a woman in the shire who he loved but was afraid to approach. Not exactly ground breaking character development there. He was a barebones character, yet readers cared about him.
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Postby aldan » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:04 am

My responses to yours...

1) I'm sorry, but if I can't treat my opinions as important to me, then what in bloody Christ's name should I do with my friggin' opinions?? You feel the way that you do about plot and those are YOUR opinions. Those aren't the same for everyone, and maybe not even for many. I don't know just how many agree with how you seem to feel about characters compared with a "new" plot.

2) You know nothing of my novel-in-progress, but I'll say a few things about it, which will, of course, leave me open to your ridicule. However, I will say them anyway. I use an ELF as a main character. The story is basically a Fantasy Mystery, because she has no memory at all, and what little she seems to know seems contradictory with what she should know, being an Elf. Why am I using an Elf as a main character? Because I am using the novel to explore cultural boundaries and such, and the Elves in my novel are very "white supremacist" in that they want to separate themselves from all the other races of the world, because they seem to feel that the other races tend to degenerate the Elven races. Humans are very much in an early dark age of development, in that they still don't have much in the way of steel, since they don't know how it's made, so they have to get it from Dwarves, who do know how. The Dwarves and Elves are the two most powerful races in the world, though numerically the Humans are more numerous. I am basically taking the typical fantasy world from D&D and instead of having the Dwarves, Elves, Halflings and such be sort of second fiddle to Humans, they are much more powerful than either, though both the Elves and the Dwarves are coming to a time of crisis.
Anyway, in the novel I will be exploring the past of the character, and showing how a character would develop. The development will be necessary due to the lack of a personal background for her, and she will have to continue to grow and stretch throughout the story to be able to learn and to survive. The story will continue with her becoming a mage and then having her mage master be slain, and so she will end up fleeing and trying to hide from the one who is trying to destroy all that her master had done to help others. Now, I know, you're probably thinking, "bah! I've read stuff like that many times over!" and you'll be partially correct. Yes, the slain master, the apprentice trying to survive and then possibly gain vengeance, that sort of stuff is fairly standard. However, until you read it, you have no fraggling idea if it will be a good novel, a good strong story, an enjoyable read or anything of the sort.

I know that you seem (from previous posts on the subject) to hate fantasy and that you feel that Sci Fi is the way to go. I say that I'd write in that genre if I had the strength of background in science that I feel is necessary to be a TRUE Science Fiction novelist. There's a lot more space available in Sci Fi to stretch your creative limbs, but even there, there's not very much out there that is really 'new', plot-wise. I'd have to say that the last 'new' plot/story idea was in Gibson's 'Neuromancer'. I might be wrong, but at least in major novels, that's the last one I noted. Gibson took the idea of an AI and the 'Net and used it to create a fictional 'world' in which the MC would find himself struggling. It wasn't about lasers, or bullets, or things like that, but instead was about a person struggling to survive by doing what got him into the situation he's trying to survive in the first place. I can't say too much specifically about the plot because others may not have read it, and it's been a few years for me as well, but it was well-realized and quite new.

3) Yes, you're right in that, but remember that if you try to publish a book like that where you go overboard on character all at once, you will not succeed, or if you're totally lucky and do, it likely won't sell to more than a handful of friends and relations. I believe in bringing character out as the book progresses, kind of like how it's done with plot. I also believe in creating more of a background for the character than I will put into the novel, because it will end up showing that the character is not shallow, even if you do nothing with it. It's kind of like creating a world history for your novel's plot, which involves more than just what will directly involve the characters that are running with the storyline. Why do authors do this? Simply to keep the readers enjoying what they find as they continue to read. Even the most vague of reference can be fun for a reader to see. For example, when a character talks about a story he heard at his uncle's tavern regarding such and such event, it gives the character some background, gives the world some depth (even if the character never actually goes there in the novel, it will give the reader the feeling, if done right, that he/she HAS been there) and brings out something that may only have a vague connection with the plot, or it might also be a key turning point of the story. The more times you do stuff like that, the less the chance will be that the reader will recognize the telegraphing of the punch, because some of the apparently huge punches ended up being jabs. If, however, you don't do that, then the reader will see the points a mile off and so will pretty much know what's next, rather than just having to hope and guess. I hope you see my point here.

4) This one kind of made me mad because you are reading more into what I said than what I said, and then you mocked me for what you read into it. First of all, I first read the LotR trilogy when I was 11 years old, before I was looking for depth from novels. Really, the FotR novel was probably the 4th one I'd ever read. I don't mean fantasy/sci fi novel, but instead a book novel of any sort. I read that book that did have shallow characters and I noticed that he had a lot of depth in the world of the novel a long time after I read it the first time. Did I enjoy reading more about the world than the characters? *shakes head* I never said I did, and if I did, you'd know it wasn't me typing. I hated his in-depth descriptiveness of every tree and leaf on the trees and every friggin' rock and gawd! It drove me up the wall!

5) [quote:"aldan"]Part of the problem with when writers are weak with their characterizations is that we as humans are very humano-centric or personality-centric and so we tend to be drawn towards stories that have characters in them that do things that we would want to be able to say that we would/could do.[/quote]
That was what I'd said. Please note: "we tend to be drawn". Not "we are drawn" or "we only enjoy". You're right that I was a bit too strong on saying "we as humans". I personally like to classify myself as one, but perhaps I should have said, "some of you humans" instead, but even that makes an assumption...

Perhaps the quote should have been written as follows: "Part of what I see as a tentative difficulty with when writers seem to me to be rather less than strong with their abilities to characterize is that I believe that I, as a human, am rather humano-centric in my reading, and even personality-centric, this being what not only I enjoy but several other creatures that I have the pleasure of knowing seem to enjoy, so we tend to look for stories that have such things as characters with personalities in them, and I, at least, like for those characters to have some depth to them, which allows the characters, as I see them, to make the story much more interesting, giving, for me, extra depth to the plot as I see it, because I can emotionally connect with the character and so will almost end up feeling, in the novels that I most enjoy, that he/she is doing things as I would like to think that I would do them."

:roll:

The eye roll, by the way, is for the clunkiness of how you seem to want me to have to put it so that it will be correct in your political eyes. Please note the "seem". I hate political correctness in all forms.

6) I will not address your misspelling since you're tho thenthitive...

7) "does he need...?" Nope. The only thing anyone 'needs' is food and some shelter, and some contend, love. However, while he doesn't 'need' it, if an author uses it, it adds depth to the story.
As for Sam and Frodo, they start out as friends of a minor sort, but it's more of a Master/loyal Servant sort of a relationship. That relationship grows during the novels, with Sam slowly showing more and more independence in what he chooses to do, so that when he chooses to follow Frodo even after getting clocked by Gollum, he does it for his own reasons, the top of which was friendship, but I'd think that also he was trying to help his Master complete the quest that his father's Master had started Frodo on. Further, he saw just how bad a thing the ring was and knew it was hurting his friend. He was also doing it for his loved ones, because he knew if Sauron got the ring, his loved ones would be enslaved or slain, most likely the latter.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
to open it and remove all doubt."
---Mark Twain
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Postby Bmat » Wed Nov 09, 2005 6:41 am

As a moderator at Speculative Vision, I am not happy with the personal discussion going on here. If you wish to carry out a heated personal argument, the boards are not the place to do it. If you are discussing a matter which is of interest or benefit to the other members, then it would be acceptable. But I am observing personal snipes and personal remarks. If these do not cease on the public boards, it will be necessary to take action.

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Postby Spiderkeg » Wed Nov 09, 2005 10:14 am

Yikes... look at how this simple topic changed into a heated debate on who's opinions and outlooks weight more.

Everyone's opinions are their own, which makes them an opinion. Everyone needs to respect the opinions of others, while at the same time, everyone needs to realize that their opinions are NOT the end all, be all. If anyone feels different, I suggest you take a class in philosophy.

Now, about characters. I have never in my life met a real life character like Snake Pliskin or Ashley Williams. Both of these characters have such a following, and why is this? Because they are larger than life. People will always have a selective opinion themselves on which character(s) they find interesting and involving.

Just because an author creates a vastly unique character with depth does not instantly translate to people liking said character. People have perferences... I may not like a certain male character just because I hate their choice in women. Who knows?

People need to realize that without good, well written, characters a plot is nothing. It is the characters of the story that help move along the story. If the characters are dull and undeveloped, people will not read further. Readers need the drama. Never estimate that a good plot is far more important than the characters. This is what Hollywood has been duped into believing for the last few years, and notice how bad the movies have been.

Of course... this is all very much my opinion on the matter.
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Postby Bmat » Wed Nov 09, 2005 12:00 pm

I have read some books with not much character development but well-discussed universes and history. But the books leave me feeling uninvolved and emotionally remote.
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Postby Magus » Wed Nov 09, 2005 5:41 pm

Would this happen to include The Lord of the Rings, Bmat?

Couple of points I'd like to make:

1) On Manji's #5 about the Lord of the Rings being one of the best selling Fantasy books of all time. It is THE best selling book of all time, second only to The Bible.

2) Nothing can be one-dimensional. Even the tiniest, most negligible dot has at least two dimensions, length and width.

Now, as to my opinions on the subject, they appear as thus:

Characters are the most important aspect, I find, to novels; and stories as a whole. There are exceptions. The Lord of the Rings is a purely plot driven book but it's success is undeniable. It is further my favorite book, despite being plot driven. But, on the average, the majority of books that I read and enjoy as a plot dependent and based upon the actions of the characters within it. Plot driven novels, to me, serve a different purpose than character-driven ones. Mostly I find that they are used to convey a general message; whether it's a haunting image of a possible future or a simple possibility of what else could have been.

They generally try to expound more upon a theme then an actual story. The Lord of the Rings in a perfect example of that. It focuses on the theme of sacrifice, of courage, of what power truly lies within any and every person. The characters were vehicles for this message; the plot its road to drive upon.
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Postby berry » Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:51 am

Wow you guys really got your handbags out!
As for the plot v character aspect, are they really that separate? It's a bit academic, like the mind/body distinction, There is no separation between the mind and the body as one cannot exist without the other but it is useful for me to separate them for study just like it useful to separate character and plot in order to help improve my writing skill but when it comes to reading I don't remember reading a story where the characters were great but the story appalling or vice versa that was really good. I don't think one can save the story if the other is no good.
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Postby aldan » Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:21 am

And that was the point of my shades of gray comment as well as the previous paragraph about the High School student.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
to open it and remove all doubt."
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Postby Manji » Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:29 am

[Flaming. Bmat]
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Postby aldan » Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:18 pm

It's true that I've not submitted any stories. The reason for this is because I have been working on a BIG story (called a novel by some, or a series by others, but I haven't yet decided), trying to get the plot set up correctly to accomplish what I want for it to.

Please note that I do believe that the plot is important, else why would I be spending the months that I have on it?

Really, in many ways they are essential to each other. It's like with a gun, the character bullets won't fly or make much of an impact without the plot gun, but the gun's useless without the bullets, too, except to bash someone over the head with or to pound nails.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
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Postby capt_tightpants » Sun Nov 27, 2005 10:12 pm

Magus wrote:
1) On Manji's #5 about the Lord of the Rings being one of the best selling Fantasy books of all time. It is THE best selling book of all time, second only to The Bible.



Magus, you crack me up. :D
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