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PSA: Choose Your Words Carefully

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mindfire, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    In the context of fiction storytelling? No, I don't think an "accepted norm" can be practically recognized in a useful way. Yes, every opinion is valuable and/or useful within the context it is presented. No, no opinions are worthy of disdain. Criticism is only useful within specific contexts, when generalized it is almost never useful.

    Which is why I said that your opinion was valid.

    I think that's just a lazy excuse, personally. And it's usually a double standard. People tend to only apply it to themselves. They say, "Of course this was just my opinion. Never mind that I used language which presented my opinion as if it were absolute truth. You should have assumed I wasn't being 100% literal." But people almost never give others the same benefit of the doubt. I've seen this played out a hundred times at least on this board alone.

    Which is why I try my best to only say what I mean and mean what I say and assume others here are doing the same. We are writers after all.
     
  2. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    A missed opportunity! I read the review which included the phrase "overly serious." This book should be the opposite.

    GRRM uses names like "milk of the poppy" and it works because the reader can figure out what the "milk" does, but it doesn't conjure street-drug imagery which might be the case if he used a real narcotic term. In this case, GRRM's made-up phrase is preventing an immersion-breaker, while Merz is breaking immersion by making a real word different without changing the meaning, prompting the reader to wonder, "Why not just call them samurai if that's what they are?"
     
    Mindfire likes this.
  3. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Look, I soften and modify almost everything I say, because I like to be polite, but sometimes you get sick of it. I thought it was pretty clear that my "objectively" comment up there was tongue-in-cheek, but no, we've got to be 100% literal.

    Derailing something into word-by-word semantics pretty much never results in a fun conversation.
     
  4. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    You can do whatever you like. I was simply making a point that seemed like it was being lost in this thread where everyone was agreeing about how terrible a book was based on not actually reading it.
     
  5. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    I think everyone's been pretty specifically saying "I would not read this book because of the blurb/cover/words on the page," which are valid things readers in general consider when deciding whether or not to read something, rather than "This book is awful."

    I can see how many glancing negative opinions might seem like unilateral condemnation, but honestly, I don't think anybody individually hates it that much.

    Except Mindfire, because he actually picked up the book and got abruptly let down. I get it, heheh.

    My idea for post-apocalyptic 'Murai Boys has also been lost in this thread, so I feel sad about that :(
     
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  6. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I think the Murai would be great in a three-way war against Ights and Rbarians. Or perhaps they would ultimately create an alliance among the three factions, as only the Murai embrace both the honor of ighthood and the rbaric nature of the sword.

    EDIT - The post-apocalyptic melee weapon of choice would be the ord. It's like a sword, but with orb-like properties and futuristic humming sounds that are not at all lightsabery.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
    Mindfire likes this.
  7. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    You mean the rbaric nature of the 'tana, forged from discarded car doors.
     
  8. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    r doors. R's being rbaric vehicles that are so futuristic, even the post-apocalyptic people were only able to obtain their doors because of a post-post-apocalyptic time traveler who died an infinite number of times when a fatal accident trapped him in a time loop.

    Man, I could write schlock. (Who am I kidding? I already do.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  9. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    We all gotta embrace the dumb in our writing, because it's in there somewhere :D
     
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  10. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Yes!

    I was once at an E3 (or was it GDC) convention where a game writer said, "Let's face it, we all write crap." I was offended for, like, a second. Then I felt liberated.
     
  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Going a bit deeper into the snark-hole for a bit here, but I think the author has pretty well proven that a setting like that would require far more work and creativity than he is willing to give.

    I think I agree with Nimue that you're being pedantic. When I say that this "Murai" business is objectively bad, can I back that up with charts and tables or studies and surveys? Of course not. That's ridiculous. But at the same time I am so deeply convicted of it's vacuousness that it boggles my mind that anyone could think otherwise. I hold this truth to be self-evident: "Murai" is lazy like unto eternity. In this case "objectively" is not being used to mean that something is or can be quantitatively proven, but rather that I find it so viscerally obvious that, for all intents and purposes, it might as well be quantitatively proven, that I will treat it as such, and that any contrary opinion is incomprehensible. "Objectively" is the adverbial equivalent of multiple exclamation marks.

    Well and succinctly put.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  12. I have to take issue with readers not knowing what is and is not quality. I think that, for the most part, readers do instinctively know when a book is good or when it isn't good, if they have read more than a handful of books. But, the problem is they do not have the education to properly diagnose the problems. And, since they cannot perform the proper diagnostics on the book, they twist themselves in order to make the book better than it is. That's why, so often when a bad but popular book is in its height, you see the arguments that because the book sold so much it must be good. Then, all of a sudden, a blogger comes in and metaphorically crucifies the book. Then these readers suddenly disavow the book and rage against it, creating a counter movement, and will never admit to actually reading the thing.

    I feel that Twilight is a good example of this reaction. I know for a fact that at least three people I have know read the book and claimed to love it. Then when pressed on why they liked it they said it's because it sold well. I was too unsophisticated to fight the claim properly myself. But a little time later they read a blog that made specific criticisms against the book and they change their tune, claim to never have read the book, and rail against it thereafter.

    This makes me think that a book is a totality of circumstances. Characters are important (arguably the most important). Story is important. Craft if important (arguably the least important). Setting is needed. Marketing is a great addition. You can survive with some elements being weaker or altogether missing, but eventually all the mistakes will come and bite you in the butt.
     
  13. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Well, then, I guess I'd rather be a pedant than someone who judges another writer without actually having read what he wrote.
     
  14. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I'm not judging the writer, per se. I'm just saying that based on what I have seen, in particular an element that put me off the book on the very first page, I would decide not to purchase and read the book. And that is completely fair. I, as a reader, am under no obligation to give the writer a second chance. Ever. For anything. If I open the book and see something stupid on the first page that makes me quit, that's it. It doesn't matter whatever justification may or may not exist for the element I have judged stupid. Bottom line is, I'm not reading. And it behooves all authors, including myself, to be mindful of this.
     
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  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I agree with Mindfire. I routinely look at the first couple of pages of a book and make a buy decision (assuming I've made it past the cover and the blurb). Moreover, I as an author do not expect the public to give me any better break.

    That's why I found this thread worthwhile. I *do* want to make sure the blurb (and cover!) does two things. One, that it hooks. Two, that it does not repel. Both are important. I would not have thought samurai either, though if there was a picture of a samurai I'd probably put it together. It would be a negative, though I perhaps would not have reacted quite so viscerally. It does not take many such negatives, though, to drive me off.

    There are times I let the rope pay out further. One is when it's an author I've previously enjoyed. That one gets more rope. Another is when it's a book that's in the genre niche where I'm working. I've grim-slogged my way through two or three books like that. But when I'm just reading for pleasure, my standards go way up. So those first impressions are terribly important, and it's quite enlightening to hear from fantasy readers how they react to these seemingly trivial points.
     
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  16. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    This bugged me especially because I'm really anal about my names, almost to the point of paranoia. So when an author isn't willing to put in even a basic level of efforts with their names, it turns me off. But in this case, I don't think you have to be as name-obsessed as I am to be put off by the showing here.
     
  17. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    I think the point here is, don't try to fake a non-European backdrop story. If you want to write about an oriental fantasy study oriental history and culture. If you want to write about Russian fantasy, study Russian history and culture.

    I like European fantasy. I have lived there(Germany and Greece), I've visited many places there, I have read a lot of history on it, I know a lot the lore.

    So, maybe I would even go as far as to say don't just read about it, live it. Delve into the history of your story.

    That way, when you create something, it is in the spirit of the culture you create it from. Not just a simple letter manip.

    Side topic: Have you ever looked at a book, and thought, this one made it? Of the ten thousand manuscripts that flow across a publishers mail room, this book made it?
     
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  18. After seeing so many call 1-800 get your book published now commercials no. I just assume they did that.
     
  19. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

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    This is one of my favorite lines ever printed in a PW review:

    "The story lacks both the sense of fun and the respect for Asian cultures that a ninjas-vs.-zombies tale deserves."
     
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  20. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Completely agree. It's more interesting to learn about actual events in history, especially if it's a topic you aren't familiar with. Creative license is alright as long as you aren't outright spinning things to make them appear different than how they actually happened. Like Mel Gibson for example. Braveheart might be a good film but the historical accuracy is a joke. If any movie is "based on real events" you know it's probably 90% bullshit.
     
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