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Too much Angst?

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Sharz
Reader
Location: Chicago

Postby Sharz » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 4:48 pm

Actually, my experience writing stories to raise awareness is that people's tolerance for angst and misery in real, live people is even shorter than for fictional characters. Comfortable readers just don't want to think about things that are so horrific that they might actually demand a response.
I agree with you as far as stories about real, live current people, but I think it's different for real, live historical ones. For the very reason that they DON'T demand any response. It's over and done, and there's nothing anyone can do about any of it now.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 6:21 pm

"Sharz" wrote:I agree with you as far as stories about real, live current people, but I think it's different for real, live historical ones. For the very reason that they DON'T demand any response. It's over and done, and there's nothing anyone can do about any of it now.

Did you mean real, DEAD historical ones? :D

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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 » Fri September 3rd, 2010, 4:25 pm

I don't think it's too much angst, and you can have a boyfriend become a drunk and get killed without making the ending feel hopeless. As LoveHistory says, an ending can be sad and hopeful at the same time. We can go through extremely bad experiences without losing our sense of hope - provided we learn from them and develop a sense (even if incomplete and uncertain) of how to go forward in a more positive way.

Teen girls today have to cope with alcoholic boyfriends and the prospect of violent death in a way we did not when I was that age (not that there wasn't plenty of angst of other varieties). A novel which can model for them characters who go through experiences like these and come out stronger rather than weaker can be extremely valuable.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, there was nothing I liked better than a novel that delivered a good, cathartic cry for me at the end - provided it didn't leave me feeling hopeless and depressed. Gone With the Wind is one I reread several times during those years - Scarlett loses Rhett at the end, but that little glimmer of hope when she insists "Tomorrow is another day," along with the reader's knowledge of her determination and grit all through the novel, despite her many flaws, offer enough hope to keep the ending from being depressing. I think that novel helped give me the strength to make it through times when I felt very sad. A novel that shied away from the tragic in life and gave me an unqualified happy ending would not have done that for me.
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

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Divia
Bibliomaniac
Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Postby Divia » Fri September 3rd, 2010, 5:29 pm

I want to thank everyone for their replies.

I've done a lot of thinking and pondering over the course of creating this thread. I have taken in each posters input.

Talking to all of you has made me change some aspects of the story. I'm going to try to change the ending, an ending I thought could never be changed. But rereading some of the comments and then thinking a long time has made me realize that I could potentially have two great twists in the story if I change it. So I think I will do that.

Again, thanks everyone for their input.

You guys rock :)
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
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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 September 4th, 2010, 4:44 am

Ooh, more twists in the story are always hot!
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

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Sun September 5th, 2010, 12:07 am

"Divia" wrote:But rereading some of the comments and then thinking a long time has made me realize that I could potentially have two great twists in the story if I change it. So I think I will do that.



One last suggestion ;) .....

Inconclusive endings also make for strong and memorable books, IMO (just think GWTW). Last year I re-read a book that had an inconclusive ending; that is, the author left three possible opportunities open to the main character, but didn't even give the slightest hint as to which she would choose. So it was up to the reader to decide. Even as a YA I loved such endings; as a teenager my favorite short story was "The Lady or the Tiger?"

Don't know if you could do this with your plot, but it's just a suggestion........
Last edited by Michy on Sun September 5th, 2010, 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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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 » Sun September 5th, 2010, 12:16 am

Last year I re-read a book that had an inconclusive ending


Which book, Michy? I'm not a big fan of inconclusive endings, but some of them work. I do like to feel that the characters will have interesting lives that will continue after I turn the last page. The inconclusive endings I really, really don't like are cliff-hangers that set up the next book in a series. I'm sure that's not what you're talking about. But if the novel ends on a huge pitch of suspense and leaves me hanging, it makes me so mad to have to wait until the next book comes out that I refuse to read it. A little bit of suspense to set up the next book is okay with me, though, as long as enough is wrapped up to make a satisfying conclusion. I don't mind if, for example, the villain escapes so he can return in the next book with some new dastardly deeds.
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

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Sun September 5th, 2010, 12:26 am

"Margaret" wrote:The inconclusive endings I really, really don't like are cliff-hangers that set up the next book in a series. I'm sure that's not what you're talking about.


No, that's not what I'm talking about -- I don't like those kind, either. I think there are times when, in a well-written stand-alone book, a (well-written) inconclusive ending makes the book so much better. I don't think GWTW would have been half so good if Margaret Mitchell had tied up all the loose ends with Scarlett and Rhett.

But, if an author ends the book on an inconclusive note just to try and get me to buy the next book in the series -- :mad: :mad: !!!!

The book I re-read last year was It Began in Vauxhall Gardens by Jean Plaidy (also published as Melisande). I first read this book about ten years ago and thought it was soooo good that I insisted one of my friends read it (something I never do with books). So last year when I found a copy for sale on Amazon, I decided I wanted to read and keep it on my shelf. Unfortunately, I wasn't so good the second time around -- it was "ok", not "great". Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt is an author I loved in my earlier years who hasn't held up so well for me over time.

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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 » Sun September 5th, 2010, 12:34 am

I don't think GWTW would have been half so good if Margaret Mitchell had tied up all the loose ends with Scarlett and Rhett.


I'm in total agreement with you there!

I haven't read a Plaidy in years, but I, too, loved her novels when I was younger. I don't think I read them all, but I really devoured a lot of them.

I think the novels we fall head-over-heels in love with are usually written around themes that we're struggling with in our own lives. We can enjoy other novels and recognize them as very good, but the ones that really grab us, it's because we're going through some type of life experience that the novel really illuminates for us. Later in life, if we've processed that experience and moved past it, the novel won't seem as deeply moving.
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

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Sun September 5th, 2010, 1:11 am

"Margaret" wrote:I think the novels we fall head-over-heels in love with are usually written around themes that we're struggling with in our own lives. We can enjoy other novels and recognize them as very good, but the ones that really grab us, it's because we're going through some type of life experience that the novel really illuminates for us. Later in life, if we've processed that experience and moved past it, the novel won't seem as deeply moving.


Hmmmmm that's an interesting thought. In thinking about the books that have been the most memorable for me, I don't see any parallels to my own life, but perhaps I am just not recognizing them ........


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