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The biggest writing fault I come across

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Tue March 13th, 2012, 7:01 pm

[quote=""lauragill""]My pet peeve is self-published authors who can't take criticism regarding typos, weak plotting, etc, and insist that their work is brilliant, that naysayers are either haters or "just don't get it." If you have to explain it to me in a separate post, you didn't do your job as an author. I WANT readers to give me feedback, because I WILL listen and take a second look at a project. Fan fiction writers can be horrible about it, because they're used to having other fans gush over their work. Original writing is NOT that easy.[/quote]

I am fortunate to have a wife who has been completely outspoken about my literary failings. She went through my MS and didn't miss a line of bad or unclear writing. A good and necessary clubbing of the ego :D .
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Tue March 13th, 2012, 9:37 pm

[quote=""lauragill""] No, it was NOT a coincidence. Don't play that game with me. I used to be a high school English teacher, and that excuse didn't float when my students tried it, either. (Yes, this recently happened to me, so I am peeved about it.)[/quote]

Not meaning to dismiss the very real concern about plagiarism, but there have been people who came up with the same idea without having any knowledge of the other's have done so. I read about two authors with books that have the same setting and basic plot, who actually met and became friends because of the coincidence.

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Post by lauragill » Tue March 13th, 2012, 10:36 pm

[quote=""LoveHistory""]Not meaning to dismiss the very real concern about plagiarism, but there have been people who came up with the same idea without having any knowledge of the others who have done so. I read about two authors with books that have the same setting and basic plot, who actually met and became friends because of the coincidence.[/quote]

I know, but this particular individual used details from Orestes: The Young Lion that were very specific to that book, and did not come from any other source. Even some of the phrasing was the same. She admitted having read the book, but denied everything else.
Last edited by lauragill on Tue March 13th, 2012, 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Tue March 13th, 2012, 10:42 pm

[quote=""lauragill""]I know, but this particular individual used details from Orestes: The Young Lion that were very specific to that book, and did not come from any other source. Even some of the phrasing was the same.[/quote]

That sounds more like a specific infraction against fair play than a general writing flaw such as what I was thinking this thread was about ... Understandable to decry it, obviously, but less a case of weak writing than simple theft.

Given the nature of our forum - I hate when research shows up in writing in the form of a not-well-integrated encyclopedia entry. HF can often be quite long enough without the author's scholarship taking up space. (This is something I'm working on myself right now, so it may be doubly annoying to me at the moment!)
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Post by bevgray » Wed March 14th, 2012, 12:05 pm

I know what you mean, Diane. I've caught myself launching into historical lectures right in the middle of dialogue.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed March 14th, 2012, 5:24 pm

Part of the problem is, there is so much good stuff! Real, dramatic stuff, fascinating things that really happened interesting quotes in actual letters, etc., etc., etc.

I was immensely helped by a comment from Philippa (can't remember her last name) on the commentary disc for the movie Fellowship of the Ring. They had shot five hours of backbreaking and marvelous footage, all of which was relevant to the story, but had to get the movie down to something an audience could sit through between bathroom breaks.
She said they decided that this film was about Frodo, and cut away everything that wasn't 'Frodo-centric'. The rest went to the expanded DVD version.

So I think hard if each historical bit is 'plot centric' and save the other juicy info to put on a website which will support the book.

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Post by erechwydd » Wed March 14th, 2012, 5:57 pm

Stilted dialogue is a particular pet peeve of mine, whether resulting from an excess of gadzookery, info dumps, or just words that don't flow felicitously.
Also, yes, being bludgeoned with a load of facts, although like DianeL, bevgray and MLE, I am all too aware of the temptation to include lots and lots (and lots) of research... :rolleyes: At the other end of the scale, I do find it irritating when writers simply dip into a bag of (not even always correct) period stereotypes, pull a few out, and leave the world building at that.
Last edited by erechwydd on Fri March 16th, 2012, 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Thu March 15th, 2012, 10:50 pm

I don't actually mind the tangents which are fascinating, but the book I've been reading for some time includes REALLY awkward insertions of "and the chronicles said such and such" in a novel whose style doesn't allow the encyclopedia entries to really flow smoothly. And repetitive reminders about how men didn't think women were their intellectual equals, which I got the first time (and knew even before that explanation), also done in this semi encyclopedic style.

And this is a major hitter, someone with lots of HF experience. So it's incredibly frustrating. I don't really need to have most of what gets explicated analyzed for me - but I *hate* having it explained every fifty pages in a pretty massive tome. Stop it.



This week, I also came to the realization that one of the characters existed for no reason whatever (I've gotten far enough along in the plot to see no further development is going to arrive for her) but to hang pointless fears on, so they can all be romantically resolved. Except that, for me, women fretting pointlessly so a fantasy man can relieve every last empty worry isn't romantic, it's just irritating reading.
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---Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Fri March 16th, 2012, 4:22 pm

[quote=""erechwydd""]
Also, yes, being bludgeoned with a load of facts, although like DianeL, bevgray and MLE, I am all too aware of the temptation to include lots and lots (and lots) of research... :rolleyes: At the other end of the scale, I do find it irritating when writers simply dip into a bag of (not even always correct) period steroetypes, pull a few out, and leave the world building at that.[/quote]

I have a suspicion that readers (some readers - me for instance) don't really want a history lesson, even if it is skilfully inserted into the text. What they want is a good story with a well (and authentically) textured background and believable characters, full of the ignorance, prejudices, priorities and values of their time.

How many could see their own era as we do, with several centuries of hindsight? And how many of them, in an age without newspapers, telephones, a postal service, the internet, even knew what was going on?
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erechwydd
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Post by erechwydd » Fri March 16th, 2012, 6:15 pm

Indeed, Justin, I agree. What you call 'history lessons' can be off-putting even when well integrated; although in this case I was thinking less of bulky 'lessons' and more of the peppering of the text with minor bits of information which the reader may find somewhat less thrilling than the writer. :rolleyes: ;) As per Rosemary Sutcliff in the following comment:

”The other terrible temptation,” she adds, ”is to try and use everything you’ve found out in the research. That can be absolutely fatal, because you really only need to use about a tenth. It’s rather like an iceberg . . . It has to be there, because it gives you the freedom of the period. But you don’t use it.”


[quote=""Justin Swanton""]What they want is a good story with a well (and authentically) textured background and believable characters, full of the ignorance, prejudices, priorities and values of their time.[/quote]

That's precisely why writing with only superficial 'stereotyped' world building often irritates me, although, of course, I do acknowledge that it depends on the context. (I perhaps should qualify, too, that when I complained about 'period stereotypes', I meant our modern stereotypes of the period, not theirs, which as you point out are extremely important in creating a sense of their world.)

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