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The Suspension of Our Disbelief

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Ha ha ha.... well, either I'd have to agree, or say that that's one really, really arrogant and "nobody is nearly as cool as me" sort of character with a serious fatal flaw that had better play a major role in the plot and character arc! Not that I'd be very inclined to care about him/her long enough to find out... ;D
#31 - February 04, 2008, 08:37 PM
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skarab

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Great topic. It reminds me of a few years back when I spent many hours re-writing the beginning of my first YA fantasy novel to get just the right balance of world-building details (or --more accurately -- hints) with character / action etc, trying to draw the reader in but not bore them to death with too much "telling." I remember studying the first few pages of Pullman's The Golden Compass for technique. The first line of The Golden Compass references Lyra and her daemon, but we're never told what a daemon is. We just go along for the ride. Anyway, I showed my opening to an editor at a SCBWI conference. I was so proud of it, but she didn't like it! She said she was lost and didn't understand all my strange references. Rats. Boy was I disappointed. After thinking of her specific comments, I think the problem was not that I didn't provide enough explanation, but that my mc was too flat, not engaging enough. I really think, along with some others here, that character is the key to nabbing readers and taking them into a different world. Of course, like everything in writing, easier said than done.

Susan K
#32 - February 06, 2008, 10:23 AM

daughterofnone

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I'm learning what a fine, fine balance this is, sowing some mystery, introducing fantastical elements, and still keeping the reader with me. Yeesh. It's harder work than I realized and I hope I get a handle on it sometime soon!
#33 - February 06, 2008, 06:55 PM

Well, oddly enough, my article "Avoid The Pits of Fantastic Fics" just appeared in Once Upon A Time Magazine on this very topic. (Of course, it had been accepted in January of 2007, so it preceeded this conversation thread by quite a chunk!)

Yay publishing creds!
#34 - February 15, 2008, 05:02 PM

Stone Writer

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Well, oddly enough, my article "Avoid The Pits of Fantastic Fics" just appeared in Once Upon A Time Magazine on this very topic. (Of course, it had been accepted in January of 2007, so it preceeded this conversation thread by quite a chunk!)

Yay publishing creds!

Nice job, Dawn!
#35 - February 19, 2008, 04:10 PM

Kate

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I recently read that new authors should be quicker to jump into the action and explain their worlds--that audiences will be more lenient with established authors whose previous work they've enjoyed. I'm not sure how (or if) this applies to YA sci fi/fantasy, but I thought I'd toss it out there.
#36 - February 22, 2008, 11:10 AM

Linda

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"but one thing I've been thinking a lot about is a comment I got once from a writing teacher. She said that readers can put up with a lot if they have confidence that the writer is in full control of the story and knows exactly what s/he is doing. If readers sense from the start that a writer will not take them down pointless paths or confusing mazes--and that all will be revealed in good time--it's easier to relax and enjoy the ride...."


Funny---I've just finished reading Steve Martin's book BORN STANDING UP, and he makes absolutely the same observation about stand-up comedy: that the actor must be the master of his material.

And I've been thinking about that as well, the idea of authorial mastery. My hobby horse has always been that it's a false dichotomy to say that a novel is either "character-driven" or "plot-driven", because really, it's what the character does next (action) that tells us who he/she's becoming---so you can't have a story without characters, BUT you also can't have characters without a story (thanks Aristotle!).

The new twist on this is: so, okay---what's the role of the author? Is he nothing but a video cam-corder observing as the story and the characters do their amazing dance...or is he somehow the master of all he surveys?

Interesting...

Z
#37 - March 05, 2008, 05:25 AM

I guess I'd rather think of it as an author firmly holding the reins. S/he knows how the world works and why, knows what motivates the characters and how their responses are "in character" -- able to justify why they do what they do, and understand the underlying logic of the world, even if it's not in every nuance or even mentioned in the text.

As a reader, I don't need to know everything in the book -- the science, the magic rules, the techonology and so forth -- but I do need to believe that the author knows these answers and, if asked, could produce them to my satisfaction.

In the process of writing, I am a lowly peon of my Muse; but once it's on paper, I have to gain mastery, have the answers, ask the tough questions, so my world can stand on its own legs and sing.
#38 - March 05, 2008, 06:55 PM

Linda

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"As a reader, I don't need to know everything in the book -- the science, the magic rules, the techonology and so forth -- but I do need to believe that the author knows these answers and, if asked, could produce them to my satisfaction...."

Ooo, wonderfully put---and something that I need to take more seriously; that the author knows the answers.

Thank you!

Z
#39 - March 06, 2008, 06:45 AM

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Funny---I've just finished reading Steve Martin's book BORN STANDING UP, and he makes absolutely the same observation about stand-up comedy: that the actor must be the master of his material.

Aha! That explains so much about the lack of awesomeness in my short-lived stand-up career.

As a reader, I don't need to know everything in the book -- the science, the magic rules, the techonology and so forth -- but I do need to believe that the author knows these answers and, if asked, could produce them to my satisfaction.

Exactly. As a reader, that's what you need. As a writer, it's hard to achieve, but worth the effort.
#40 - March 06, 2008, 07:57 AM
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In the process of writing, I am a lowly peon of my Muse; but once it's on paper, I have to gain mastery, have the answers, ask the tough questions, so my world can stand on its own legs and sing.

Ooh, I like THIS idea. The story is firmly in control for me for at least the first draft (almost literally; I can hardly break away to do chores, etc.), but whether I like it or not, I need to begin working with it -- maybe not even to control it, 'cause something about that idea bothers me, but for me it's like working with a horse -- to come to an understanding and learn to work together and communicate so that we can make necessary adjustments together for a more pleasing, aesthetic, and comfortable ride.
#41 - March 06, 2008, 10:27 AM
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