Fantasy and Conworlding Part II

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Aurora Rossa
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Post by Aurora Rossa »

What I have never understood, Eddy, is why you are so fixated upon genres. I think that it's probably more important that you find an answer to that and subject it to scrutiny than to pursue the thesis of the lead post.


In this case, I am working on a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy. To do that, I need to know just what concepts I am working with.
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Post by Morrígan »

Eddy wrote:In this case, I am working on a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy. To do that, I need to know just what concepts I am working with.

Of all the weird, wrongheaded things you've ever said, Eddy, this may be the wrongestheaded.

Why would you "need to know what concepts [you] are working with"? If you plan on writing, shouldn't you have the concepts already? Just write. Just fucking write. And keep on writing. Make it your task to write for half an hour every day without fail. Just write anything if you have to. But start writing.

And read The Count of Monte Cristo; it's a long book, but it is an excellent story, and well told. Except for the needlessly convoluted bits, and the slow stuff, but Dumas was being paid by the word, so we understand.

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Post by Miekko »

TheGoatMan wrote:
Eddy wrote:In this case, I am working on a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy. To do that, I need to know just what concepts I am working with.

Of all the weird, wrongheaded things you've ever said, Eddy, this may be the wrongestheaded.

Why would you "need to know what concepts [you] are working with"? If you plan on writing, shouldn't you have the concepts already? Just write. Just fucking write. And keep on writing. Make it your task to write for half an hour every day without fail. Just write anything if you have to. But start writing.

Actually, before telling him to write, we should tell him to read. So he knows what concepts he's working with. And I mean as far as the entire idea of literature goes. Him admitting that he hasn't *read* fiction sort of explains why he never has gotten his writing to feel very fluid or interesting - he doesn't know the concepts involved in writing.
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Post by Radius Solis »

Sharp division between scifi and fantasy is a silly illusion. All works of fiction that can even partially be said to belong to one genre, also partially belong to the other in at least some regards.

Though I dont' remember the counterexamples from the last thread, another that hasn't been mentioned yet here is Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series. Set in the distant past, with characters ruled by their belief in the spirit world, and the main character doing and accomplishing far more than conceivably plausible for any single human of the age (not to mention being a walking heroic embodiment of Pure Good), and with characters receiving visions of the future that turn out to be true... it is nevertheless also a thoroughly scientific work. The author has researched human anthropology in the relevent regions so thoroughly for her books that she has become, herself, an eminent scholar on the topic (the last installment required six years of research incl. digs at archeological sites). And aside from the visions, everything the characters do and see is based on hard real-world science.

Sci-fi? Fantasy? Both!

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Post by Torco »

I think TheGoatMan's advise is the most rightheadedest: sure, it's a common meme to say that in order to be a good writer you must read, but I'm gonna believe Aristoteles on this one and guess that practice makes perfect.

and yeah, the distinction isn't clear-cut.

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Post by Miekko »

Torco wrote:I think TheGoatMan's advise is the most rightheadedest: sure, it's a common meme to say that in order to be a good writer you must read, but I'm gonna believe Aristoteles on this one and guess that practice makes perfect.

and yeah, the distinction isn't clear-cut.

and to become a good morris dancer, dance. Oh wait, dancing doesn't help you turn into a good dancer of style X, unless you also know what that style looks like. One and the currently most central problem is that Eddy doesn't know what literature looks like. SRSLY.

He doesn't remotely have a chance of understanding how to communicate anything to the reader, because he can't relate to the reader, because he never has been one.
< Cev> My people we use cars. I come from a very proud car culture-- every part of the car is used, nothing goes to waste. When my people first saw the car, generations ago, we called it šuŋka wakaŋ-- meaning "automated mobile".

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Post by Torco »

So it's that bad, huh?

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Post by Morrígan »

Miekko wrote:He doesn't remotely have a chance of understanding how to communicate anything to the reader, because he can't relate to the reader, because he never has been one.

Oh. I thought pthag was being hyperbolic.

Ok, Eddy. Start reading!

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

Oh. I thought pthag was being hyperbolic.


Hyperbolic is a nice word for what pthag is.

@Radius Solis: Then you don't believe in any precise differences between science fiction and fantasy?
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Post by Morrígan »

Eddy wrote:@Radius Solis: Then you don't believe in any precise differences between science fiction and fantasy?

I don't believe that this is actually a useful distinction. And a lot of people feel this way.

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Post by Pthagnar »

the other word is "right"

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Post by Torco »

I'd settle at hyperbolically right with a sprinkle of asshole, but yeah =)

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Post by Delthayre »

Regardless of whether the two can be precisely defined, Eddy, you seem to be going about this backwards. Genre labels such as 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' are descriptive, whereas you seem to be trying to use them to define the substance of whatever you intend to write. It feels a little trite to invoke linguistic terms, but if seems fitting to say that you're being awfully prescriptivist.
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Post by Pthagnar »

it is not hyperbolic if what i said is exactly true

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Post by Torco »

YES IT CAN BE you can exaggerate about true statements, you can!, are you listening? it most certainly can be, it so can be, it's like the most true thing in the entire universe. so DO NOT SAY THAT IT CANNOT BE, BECAUSE IT CAN BE, can too, can too, can too!!

NOTE: Your initial answer, 'read a fucking book', clearly implies that he hasn't read any books ever when taken in a completely literal fashion, although it's understood to mean that he should read more books that he has. that's called an hyperbole

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Post by Pthagnar »

That wasn't an answer. I agree with Salmoneus that this thread is useless if you're looking for *those*. It was part of the continuing campaign to get eddy to actually read books. I am pleased to announce that this week he decided to. It is a victory, precious like the first snowdrop of the spring.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

Regardless of whether the two can be precisely defined, Eddy, you seem to be going about this backwards. Genre labels such as 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' are descriptive, whereas you seem to be trying to use them to define the substance of whatever you intend to write. It feels a little trite to invoke linguistic terms, but if seems fitting to say that you're being awfully prescriptivist.


Then you believe we start with works of fiction and then label them according to subjective criteria, rather than starting with genres and writing fiction in them?
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Post by Pthagnar »

Well, you don't.

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Post by Torco »

Eddy wrote:
Regardless of whether the two can be precisely defined, Eddy, you seem to be going about this backwards. Genre labels such as 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' are descriptive, whereas you seem to be trying to use them to define the substance of whatever you intend to write. It feels a little trite to invoke linguistic terms, but if seems fitting to say that you're being awfully prescriptivist.


Then you believe we start with works of fiction and then label them according to subjective criteria, rather than starting with genres and writing fiction in them?


I believe something similar... fiction's just fiction. even though some author might be trying to produce stuff that's a certain genre, say fantasy, she could eventually end up writing something that's more akin to some other genre. The bottom line is this: just as synthetic-analytic is a largely artificial distinction and doesn't influence the 'quality' of a conlang, good fiction's just that; fiction that is good, and genres are stuff that's said about fiction, and largely inconsequential.

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Post by Radius Solis »

The core function of dividing works into genres is, most fundamentally, to provide a handy way of telling people "if you liked / didn't like X, you will have a good chance of also liking / not liking Y". That is why the categories are fuzzy and bleed into each other easily; so do people's tastes.

However, Eddy, it may be possible to retool your intention into something more useful, like "to write with the intention of appealing to multiple audiences". Which is definitely an achievable goal. How equipped you are to try it is a question I happily leave to others.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

So ultimately, we cannot develop objective criteria for distinguishing science fiction and fantasy because writers can always come up with new works that defy existing classifications.
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Post by Miekko »

Eddy wrote:So ultimately, we cannot develop objective criteria for distinguishing science fiction and fantasy because writers can always come up with new works that defy existing classifications.


no, but because there's nothing intrinsically better per se in writing anything that fits a classification - except hacks, few write with a set definition as goalpost. It's not just 'can come up with wokrs that defy existing classifications' it's existing classifications are a secondary thing
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Post by Aurora Rossa »

no, but because there's nothing intrinsically better per se in writing anything that fits a classification - except hacks, few write with a set definition as goalpost. It's not just 'can come up with wokrs that defy existing classifications' it's existing classifications are a secondary thing


Then you mean writers don't generally start with the goal to write "science fiction" and then come up with ideas that fit that mold.
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Make a list of reasons why we might find this ridiculous

Post by Delthayre »

Eddy, just think about the characters, plot and ideas that you want to express, then start writing the motherfucking story. That is what writers do. As usual, you have become uselessly 'hung up' on labels without in fact accomplishing something. This is all pointless procrastinating that you're engaged in to make yourself feel like you're doing something toward your 'goal' when you are in fact just puttering around asking assinine questions. If you ever write a draft, then I imagine that some people here would be willing to read it and critique it, all else is just so much meaningless noise.

Piss or get off the pot, boy.
Last edited by Delthayre on Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Pthagnar »

hm so you're saying i should write and not ask questions? but then how could i learn anything about writing?

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