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Turkey City HF?

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annis
Bibliomaniac

Turkey City HF?

Postby annis » Fri July 16th, 2010, 11:49 pm

Maybe I’m just becoming a Grumpy Old Woman, but recently several HF novels I’ve read (or tried to read) have driven me to distraction.

The curse of the spell-check (valid word, wrong meaning), bad grammar, compulsive over-adjectivity syndrome (yep, made that one up :) ) and downright clunky writing have near as dammit led me to major wall-banging tanties at times.

Worst of all is the increasing appearance of what is known in SF as the “As you know, Bob” (AYKB) technique - clumsy info-dumps where one character turns to another and apropos of nothing proceeds to lecture him at length on a subject he would already be familiar with. (Terry Pratchett has labelled the fantasy version the “As you know, your father, the king-- “ technique) Solitary characters can also use this technique through extended soliloquy –the “Well, here I am--“ approach. This technique can have its place, but shouldn’t jump out at the reader in a jarring way.

I’m wondering if it should be compulsory for HF writers to study the Turkey City Lexicon before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard.) This hilarious dictionary of SF tropes to be avoided could also have quite a bit of relevance for modern historical novelists.

The Turkey City Lexicon
http://www.otherworlds.net/turkey.htm
Last edited by annis on Sat July 17th, 2010, 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Sat July 17th, 2010, 1:11 am

That was funny! Battos are my favorite.

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Sat July 17th, 2010, 1:12 am

Where are the editors? Aren't they supposed to encourage/force their authors to get rid of clumsy writing such as you describe?

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cw gortner
Bibliophile
Location: San Francisco,CA
Contact:

Postby cw gortner » Sat July 17th, 2010, 2:01 am

That Turkey Lexicon site is hilarious! God, I hope I don't act like this in my writing; I'm double-checking my current manuscript for any of these. I loved the Plot Coupons - being an ex-avid fantasy reader, that is SO true!
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
[B]THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN
[/B]

www.cwgortner.com

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sat July 17th, 2010, 5:02 am

Great site, Annis! I'll forgive most of these writerly sins if the story is interesting and they only crop up occasionally here and there. But most (not all) of the self-pubbed novels I have read layer them on so that each page contains multiple examples. What makes them exceptionally unforgivable is when the author responds to a review pointing out the most egregious of these problems by writing the reviewer an outraged email saying he wrote the novel this way intentionally in order to achieve a certain effect (for example, he wanted the reader to feel confused), and the reviewer (obviously a complete idiot) has missed the whole point of the novel. Or to say, well, yes the first 23 chapters about the main character's childhood may be a bit of an info-dump, but the rest of the novel is really great, and you ought not to judge the whole novel by the first 23 chapters. This is why I no longer review self-pubbed novels.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat July 17th, 2010, 6:39 am

You're quite right, Margaret. If a story is written well and grips the reader, use of these techniques is unlikely to be an annoyance. The real issue is not writers using these particular techniques, but how subtle they are about it. I don't have an objection to the "As you know, Bob" technique as such, for example - it can work well if used judiciously so that it blends into the storyline. If the reader notices it is being used, you'd have to say that it's probably a reflection on the author's level of skill at the craft of writing. (And this definitely does not apply to you, CW! :) )
Last edited by annis on Sat July 17th, 2010, 6:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sat July 17th, 2010, 11:54 am

Hehe, you remind me of Michele's review of Weir's Captive Queen.

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Sat July 17th, 2010, 4:04 pm

"Misfit" wrote:Hehe, you remind me of Michele's review of Weir's Captive Queen.


I thought that too - strangely enough!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat July 17th, 2010, 7:12 pm

Lol! Fun review :) From the bits quoted in Michele's review I'd say that AW could certainly take the Turkey City Lexicon to heart. I spotted several TCL no-nos in just those few quotes.

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Sat July 17th, 2010, 10:30 pm

It just occurred to me that I need to bookmark that site for research purposes. I'm going to include as many of those as I can in my bad romance novels. :D


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