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Trope Avoidance

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Incanus, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Since you are clearly an expert in this field can you tell us the source of that information? How about you tell us which company does the most public surveys of reader desires and how they buy, who they do them for and roughly what they cost? Who is the biggest player in that field. Surely you can tell us that much?

    According to you it must be Barilla!

    Their attempt to enhance and raise their profits, and control their market, does not make your comment about them only caring what book stores buy (at most 20% of their market) any less absurd.


    So instead you can mind read it out of them and place it in the worst light possible to build a straw man argument. That seems like a good faith way to discuss an issue.

    Your argument comes down to "everybody else, especially the professionals are too stupid to know what they are doing. Listen to me instead." That is pretty unpersuasive.
     
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  2. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Russ, you're the one that claimed trad pubs spend so much on market research. And you know "people in the industry", so why don't you tell us more?


    Honestly, I don't care if you think it's absurd or not.



    No mind reading, just analyzing the underlying logic of the statements being made.

    And no, that's not what my argument is. As I said, all the stuff we've been saying about the publishing industry is really not the point of this thread. The main point of everything I've been saying here is "Keep your mind open, don't rule out any tools in your writing kit, and respect the efforts of the thousands of years of human culture that have given rise to the storytelling motifs that we call tropes".
     
  3. I take exception with this notion. There's only so much media a person can consume within a given time period. The easiest to consume are passive media like music, TV, and movies. Reading is a fairly active pursuit that has to compete against these other forms of media. Reading also takes more time to complete a story than watching a movie. (See e.g. How Long Will It Take To Read That Book? This Chart Gives An Estimate (noting that it will take 60+hours, or so, to finish the HP series vs 19 hours or so for the movie version of HP)). Modern society is too busy for this nonsense. We have cat videos to watch dammit! This is just one factor as to why there aren't more blockbusters. And one that is more quantifiable than "What readers want."

    Other factors, especially in the Internet era, could be a persons opinion. (See e.g. Skip Ender's Game) Or poor marketing, a Goodreader catfishing an author making them appear to be a Badly Behaving Author, lies, defamation, and the list goes on and on and on as to why a book, even a good one, doesn't come off magic, guns, and swords a blazing.

    Besides that there are several marketing research techniques that don't require polls and other methods. One could combine the book genome project and Internet activity of people to find books that people are likely to buy. I would bet dollars to donuts that the big three are using this same technique to find out what readers want. It's disingenuous to claim that there is little to no market research done, because how else would they make money. And I am not convinced the shotgun method would work.

    I'll grant that all market research can only generate a close approximation of what readers want, because readers are fickle. But, just because it is an approximation doesn't mean that it doesn't happen, that it isn't effective, and isn't a useful tool.
     
  4. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Actually I can. And I am happy to. Right after you answer. I am testing your argument to see if any of the assertions you make about the publishing industry are based in fact or are just pure opinion.

    Still waiting...




    So let's be clear. You stand by your comment that the only thing the trad pub industry cares about is selling to books stores when only about 20% of their income comes from that? You really must think most of the world is too stupid to live. IT makes you wonder how they tie their shoes in the morning doesn't it?





    Telling people what they mean, when they said something different, is "mind reading" at best, misrepresenting at worst. If you were polite in discourse instead of telling them what "the problem is" and what they mean, you might consider asking them to find out if that is what they mean...but that wouldn't help build your straw man.


    .
    this is more vague rubbish. How many more big successes does it take? What is the definition of success? If they knew what readers wanted what proportion of books should sell how many copies? How do you take into account competition, the fact that publishers are fighting for a limited pool of readers' money?

    The interesting part is that apparently you claim to know what readers want and plan to publish. If this is so can I then assume 100% of your published works will be "big successes"?
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
  5. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I don't have any documentation at hand. It would take a lengthy internet search to find the sources I have read over the years that led to my arguments. I honestly don't have the time to look them up. You can count that as a win for you, if you want. It really doesn't matter to me. This whole train of the discussion doesn't matter to me. This is the last post I'll make adding to it because I've got housework to do now.

    I standby the fact that the entire business model of trad publishing is selling directly to bookstores, not customers. Only recently are some of them attempting to get into direct sales through their websites. But publishers are distributors, not retailers. They need bookstores to carry their offerings. Please explain to me how only 20% of their income is from bookstores. They make 80% of their income selling directly to readers? Really?

    No, it's taking the words that people use as representative of what they mean. Which is how communication works. I'm analyzing the words people are using, not their thoughts when they wrote them. If your words and arguments are not correctly representing what you mean then you're doing it wrong. You can disagree with me about my assessment of the words, but do not act as if I'm committing a logical fallacy by assessing them. It just shows that you have a poor understanding of critical thinking and debate.

    Are you "mind reading" at me now? :p

    But actually, living doesn't require much intelligence, unfortunately.
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    There really comes a time to have the courage and wisdom to say "I don't know" instead of doubling down on something that is factually wrong, and having the complete lack of integrity to tell someone they are ignorant when you are in fact making things up. It is pretty clear that your knowledge of how the traditional publishing industry would fit in a thimble with a lot of room left over.

    For future reference the industry leader in gathering data on the book world is the Codex Group. They are almost continuously doing studies and surveying consumers on reading habits and book buying issues. They do studies and surveys for major publishers, and many other industry and non-profit groups. They poll thousands upon thousands of people on what they want in books, what causes them to buy books and their spending habits. They do these studies (most of the time) because they are commissioned to do so by major publishers, online sellers as well as non-profit and academic groups.

    If the name Codex Group is not on the tip of your tongue you really should not be accusing executives at large corporations of not knowing their business now should you? The truth is clear, you really don't know how much work they do to see what readers want.

    And as a cautionary note you really can't come to understand an industry just by reading a few articles on the internet. Try actually speaking to some industry people, or reading a few of the studies, or applying some basic business and accounting principles.


    Once again you show you don't know what you are talking about. You are assuming the only way to sell books is direct to readers or bookstores. But anyways here is the data, only 20% from bookstores:

    E-Retailers Now Accounting for Nearly Half of Book Purchases by Volume, Overtake Physical RetailDigital Book World | Digital Book World

    Or are the people at DBW as clueless as traditional publishing execs?

    No mind reading required. You called me ignorant and suggested that executives at multi-billion dollar companies were making decisions by effectively throwing spaghetti at the wall.

    Logical debate? Usually that is founded on facts, not a mound of suppositions based on wishes and prejudices.
     
  7. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    Well, this debate is getting a little heated. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that the thread veered into an argument about ‘originality’, or the usefulness of the very concept of ‘tropes’.

    At the risk of misunderstanding what a few here have said, I am a little bit surprised to find arguments that seem to recommend against trying for some originality. If I simply wanted to write, and not to invent or create, I would probably just work at fan-fic. I have no interest in that, however. Not that there is anything wrong with it, mind. I just don’t think it is the proper milieu for my particular creative outlet.

    I’ll say again that my original post did NOT contain an attitude toward tropes one way or the other. It passes no judgment upon them good or bad, or upon those who would use them (which would include myself). If I had wanted to express an opinion to go along with my question, I would have provided it.
     
  8. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    Yeah, you really opened Pandora's box. Just let the thread play out and move on.
     
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    This is not at all what people are saying. No one arguing that tropes are good is saying you shouldn't try to be original.

    I'm saying that using tropes or not using tropes has nothing to do with originality. You can be original if you use tropes. You can be predictable if you avoid them. Tropes are just a tool. The originality has to come from within you.
     
  10. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    It just looked like a plain box of cereal when I opened it. I swear it had no 'Pandora' label on it anywhere!
     
  11. That disclaimer is only online.
     
  12. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour

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    I think this says it really well. Just write, and see what happens!
     
  13. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Ok, I caught up on this thread, and I know this already blew up, but... I have to say to Mythopoet that it's incredibly patronizing to tell me that the way I'm approaching my writing is a bad idea. I can, and have, pointed out ways in which thinking critically about tropes has helped my writing in the past.

    I understand that you're generally against critique and critical analysis, but not everybody thinks the same way. If you go into a discussion with the notion that there is One True Way to Write (and of course, you know what it is) it's inevitably going to escalate. Capslock doesn't really help. Neither does repeatedly putting words in people's mouths.

    The thing is, I think everyone agrees on most of the fundamental things about this argument. There's nothing new under the sun. Writing can be good or bad regardless of what tropes it uses or doesn't use. Tropes are an important part of the fantasy writer's toolbox. It's just that I would argue that analyzing why and how you're using tropes is also incredibly useful. Not to dismiss any of them out of hand, but to question assumptions about why they're there.

    If they hold up, if they're adding strength and meaning, that's great. But sometimes writers can use them like crutches or placeholders, and there are patterns of lazy writing that I want to be able to recognize and fix. Because every time I've challenged myself to move beyond the first concept that comes to mind, it has improved my writing. And of course this is subjective and of course I'm still using a million tropes and enjoying them. But I find this approach valuable, and I don't think it's a mistake that deserves to be shouted down.
     
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  14. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I think this is not a bad idea for a first draft. But at some point I would suggest you need to think about what you have written, how it is written and other issues of craft/content.

    Depending on your time pressures, it might not even be that good an idea for a first draft. Catching a problem early can save you a lot of valuable time later.

    How one writes a first draft I think is a very individual process, but I do think at some point one needs to be critical and analytical of ones' own work.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  15. Ben.D

    Ben.D Acolyte

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    I would say instead of writing a story based off of fantasy stories and books, write a story about what you know, about events that are happening around you through a fantasy lens. This way you don't have to worry as much about sticking to specific races and rules of magic, or avoiding them, and just develop the characters and plot. Then as you write you can create races that fit the story and let them be personalized to the book you're writing so even if they are similar to other stories they'll also be very different.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2015
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  16. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Agreed. The ability to tell a compelling story trumps whether or not tropes are used.
     
  17. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Ok, you asked if anyone thought it was a bad idea, so I said yes, I think it's a bad idea. I clearly said I think, showing that this is my opinion. And now I'm accused of being patronizing because I answered a question by stating my opinion? Give me a break. The people on this forum are ridiculous.
     
  18. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Well said.
     
  19. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    You mean like the arrogant ones who say things about the publishing industry that are patently and demonstrably false?

    The "Fantasy" part is supposed to apply to the writing, not the worldview!
     
  20. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    If you don't see the problem with your tone--even in this post?--I can't help you there. But the issue is that the whole time you've been arguing with a strawman who thinks that tropes should be thrown out the window and we should write via avant-garde word generators to be really original. The debate isn't "tropes are good and useful" versus "tropes are bad and you shouldn't use them". It's "tropes are useful but you should think about how you use them" versus "tropes are useful and it's not really worth it to think about how you use them". And making statements like "a lack of tropes doesn't equal originality!" is dodging the point.

    Obviously we will have to agree to disagree here, but I'm baffled by how you've gone about making this point, and who you think that you're defending tropes from.
     
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