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Anatomy of Fiction: Reading Group For Writers

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Heliotrope, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Welcome to Anatomy of Fiction: Reading Group for Writers.

    Your hosts for the group include Heliotrope, and Devor.

    January/February's topic of discussion will be "Writing Funny."

    What is Comic Fantasy?

    Probably the lightest of all fantasy sub-genres, Humorous or Comic Fantasy is fun first, fantasy second. Basically, it just presents a fresh and interesting environment that will generate fresh and interesting humor.

    A hallmark of this type is the heavy use of puns and parodies of other works. This can take many forms: making fun of the genre itself is probably the easiest target, because most other fantasy takes itself so very seriously. Another technique is to add ridiculous elements to tropes, such as a magic sword that talks, but only when spoken to politely or some such thing. Giving protagonists an exaggerated flaw that introduces some difficulty in achieving or maintaining the expected hero's bearing can be quite funny, but many times the hero himself plays the “straight man” in these stories, while the other characters are made ridiculous.

    The action usually takes place in an imaginary world, although medieval settings are ripe for humor as well.

    - See more at: Comic Fantasy | Best Fantasy Books

    ***​

    Could your WIP stand to be a bit more funny? Does it perhaps take itself too seriously? Are you looking for ways to inject a bit of comic relief?

    Join our discussion next month on how to write funny!

    This theme's reading list includes:

    The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galexy by Douglas Adams

    The Princess Bride by Willian Goldman

    Good Omens by Neil Gaiman/ Terry Pratchett

    Choose one, choose two, or read them all and join in the conversation starting January 1st.

    *(What is this group? https://mythicscribes.com/forums/su...fiction-reading-group-writers.html#post253647 )
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
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  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Looking forward to this!
     
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  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Me too! I ordered my books on Amazon today!
     
  4. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    So how is this going to work? I'm still in the 1st chapter of The Princess Bride at the moment. Just wondering if the discussion will be about all the books at once or...?
     
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  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Good question, Chessie! We're still figuring some of this out, and Heliotrope will be taking point on the discussion. But at the moment we're hoping to focus on the theme, "Writing Funny," while inviting people to talk about any of the three books to support the discussion. If you only choose to read Princess Bride, that will be fine, as we continue to figure out how to make a discussion of three different books work out for everyone.
     
  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yeah. So starting in January I'll post some articles or perhaps even podcasts that address the theme of "writing funny," as well as some broad talking points on topics such as:
    - Comedic Irony
    - Developing comedic characters through using only one or two-dimensional characters
    - using the setting in comedic ways
    - using satire

    You get the idea.

    We've limited the reading choices to three books that are different enough in scope that they offer a variety, while still under the umbrella of "comedy."

    The point is that if a person chooses to read only one book there will be others in the group who are reading the same book, and if someone chooses to read more than one then they can compare and contrast.
     
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  7. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Oooohh....you know what? I think I totally misunderstood this book club. I thought we were reading just for the fun of it. I didn't realize that this was meant as a writing group, too with articles, etc. Not for me then. :(
     
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  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    All the extra stuff is optional. Not homework. The point is that those who wish to delve more into the "how to's" can, while those who just wish to talk books can do that. No pressure. No assignments.

    The point though is to look at specific themes, read how master author's adress those themes (like comedy) and disuss how we can apply those strategies to our own material.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Right, I think we definitely want to make it up to you how much or how little you want to get involved. I can't speak too much for the discussion, but the article that goes live on the home page will be a "Reading Challenge" that'll be read by hundreds of people who won't have a chance to even join the discussion. And that's fine.

    We're looking for ways to add value to our audience. If all you want to do is pop in and say "Thanks for recommending this book, I really enjoyed it," hey, thanks, we'll take it. But some people may be looking for specific ways they can add comedy or whatever the current theme is at the time to their writing, and we want to support that.

    Participate as little or as much as is right for you.

    As the series progresses over the year we hope to have presented a pretty solid survey of the fantasy genre for writers who are interested in figuring out what to read and how they're looking to grow as writers by reading it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
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  10. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Ooh, I've read all these, so I'll definitely jump into the discussion.
     
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  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    All three books approach humor in the same way--as a kind of knowing satire or commentary on the form itself. Nothing wrong with that at all. All three of those books were great fun.

    But that's rather different from writing actual comedy, in which the characters are funny within their own reality. I can think of comedic relief from a character in an otherwise straightforward fantasy tale, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a fantasy book that is not really more of a meta-comedy. Even Silverlock was that way. Can anyone think of an exception?

    I bring it up because the actual writing can be different--comedy versus satire--so it's something to be aware of as we look at the authorial devices used.
     
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  12. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I can't think of one in fantasy, specifically, but The Martian may be an example of a strictly funny book, as in not satirical, just using the voice of a funny character? Is this more what you mean?

    Probably Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut would be another example.

    Many of the Harry Potter books have humourous characters as well.

    The reasoning behind the book choices was that if group members were only able to fit in one of the books then they could choose one that fit their interests, but it would be similar enough in theme to the others that the discussion topics would relate. For the next theme, which we will put to a vote by the members, we can maybe talk about if we want to have more diversity in the books.

    This time around Devor and I thought it appropriate to choose one well known, classic fantasy (for those interested in such a thing) with A Princess Bride, a, non-fantasy though still well-known novel in Hitchhiker's Guide, and then something still fantasy but far less traditional with Good Omens.

    *Edit: I find that Middle Grades has a wide variety of funny fantasy books that are not satirical,

    Return to Exile by E.J. Patton comes to mind.

    Phineas T. Pimiscule was not what you'd call an "attractive" man. He wasn't "desirable" or "appealing". He didn't like "things" or do "stuff" or "wash" himself. He was not the kind of guy to "put" "quotation" "marks" around "words" or to say things in an unassuming or assuming way.

    He was the kind of guy who wore a monocle.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    PS - Skip, you already have interesting questions and discussion points.... (I had to look up Meta-comedy) and since you have already read all the books it would be great to have you join in the discussions!

    And if you feel like maybe you want to help us co-host on the next round that would be great too, Devor and I are just flying by the seat of our pants at this point :)
     
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think we're off to a decent start myself, but I would also be more than happy to have Skip or somebody else join as a co-host.

    If we can find the books for it, we could do "non-satirical comedy" as a theme down the road.
     
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  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Helio, when did you want to vote on the next theme? I told Black Dragon the article about the three books we picked would go live the weekend of Jan 7th, and I think it would be great to be able to mention the next theme inside the article. So to me the sooner we pick the next theme the better.

    Ohh, also . . . bump!
     
  16. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Ok, anytime then? If anyone has a suggestion for the next theme they can pm me or post it here?
     
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'll toss a theme out there . . . "Heavy Exposition Done Right."
     
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  18. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    If anyone has a book suggestion that matches a theme that would be great too!

    For expo heavy done right I might suggest:

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

    Nobel prize winner
    Expo heavy
    Magical realism
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
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  19. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Or Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut? Hmmmmm... Could be an interesting theme...
     
  20. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Honestly, it's kind of looking like a college Lit class to me. :( I'm kind of bummed because I would love to be a part of a book club where we read for fun and there's discussion but all the themes and everything extra is dissuading me. Not sure if that's the case for anyone else who might come across this--I'm not so good with strong literature + writing= you should write like this!

    So...in the meantime, I'll wait and see how it develops.
     
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