Kevin's Watch Forum Index
 HomeHome   MemberlistMemberlist   RegisterRegister   SearchSearch   ProfileProfile   FAQFAQ   StatisticsStatistics  SudokuSudoku   Phoogle MapPhoogle Map 
 AlbumAlbum StoresStores   StoresItems Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Magic v Plot - Does Magic Render Plot Irrelevant?
Goto page Previous  1, 2
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Kevin's Watch Forum Index -> General Fantasy/Sci-Fi Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
aliantha
18k or bust!

Female
Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 17525

Thanks: 27
Thanked 72 Times in 71 Posts

Location: Arlington, VA
13737 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Aliantha Berries1 Andelain1 SRD's Green Rock


PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
Thanks, Doc. I'll check those out. I've seen Wizard's Eleven on the shelves but I don't know if I've ever seen the others.


aliantha wrote:
Wildling, I think "twee" is the word you're looking for to describe those books. Laughing

Or should that be 'hipster'? Laughing

u.

Hipsters are too cool for twee. Wink
_________________



EZ Board Survivor

"Dreaming isn't good for you unless you do the things it tells you to." -- Three Dog Night (via the GI)

http://www.hearth-myth.com/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1199

Thanks: 22
Thanked 18 Times in 16 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
14676 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just spotted this interesting topic of yours, u... you do occasionally come up with them Razz . Though I have to say that I think you've bizarrely conflated two entirely unrelated issues. On to issue number 1, then.
ussusimiel wrote:
We got about halfway through a discussion at the E'fest about the tension between Magic and Plot in fantasy. While I am not a fan of excessive Magic in fantasy stories, my theory is meant to be more descriptive than a negative judgement... ...Is my assumption that plot must be primary valid, or is it something that I should question? (Again it arises because some of these books are phenomenally popular.)
I don't at all get why you believe that magic is necessarily both separate and antithetical to plot? Surely it's all in the way it's handled?
Vraith wrote:
The hardest part of dealing with Magic is [and maybe this is part of what u.'s problem is? Maybe someones already said this?] is that it can't be simple "magical." It has to be integral.
Yes absolutely, V. It's not about magic being necessarily at odds with, or invalidating plot. Instead, it's about how magic is handled by the author and about the authorial necessity of simultaneously evoking interest whilst maintaining a seamless credibility - which pretty much adds up to the essential goal of engrossing and causing a suspension of disbelief within the reader. If magic is used as part of any author's construction of his imaginary world, it needs to remain credible against the ground-rules that said author establishes in such creation - or to use V's apposite word, magic needs to be integral. This is where holding the reader's interest comes in as well; I suspect that any author giving us a work where the central protagonist can achieve anything at all just by snapping his fingers and muttering "Shazam" - even if such omnipotence has been beforehand established as part of the authorial world construction - is going to be seen as trite and uninteresting. Presumably this is why not so many novels are written with God as the hero.

Magic used as a deus ex machina is always going to result in a suspension of disbelief shattering clunk, but in exactly the same way as someone doing something entirely out of character would - it wouldn't "fit". (I'm kind of thinking of Loric's krill here, which by the LCs has become an uber-puissant theurgic version of a Swiss army knife). Anyhow, u, I agree with your listing of those books where as you put it, magic overshadows plot, or as I'd put it, magic is thrown in carelessly. "Seamless credibility" and "in-universe realism" go out of the window as the demands/machinations of plot become all too obvious.

As an aside and speaking of seamless credibility, I'm reminded of the famous story that had to do with an episodic thriller radio series a few decades, where the hero was left in a cliff-hanger predicament at the end of each show. The main writer had left said hero in what looked like an impossible position at the end of last week's show and gone on vacation. None of the secondary writers could work out any way in which the hero could possible extricate himself and the show's producer was going nuts. Fortunately he managed to get hold of the main writer and persuade him to return from vacation just in time to pen the forthcoming week's script. The main writer duly sat down at his typewriter, briefly viewed the script of the previous week's show to remind himself of how he'd left things and then without the slightest shame or hesitation typed the immortal line "With one bound, our hero was free". Big Grin

And now on to the way WAY more contentious issue number 2. Heh.
ussusimiel wrote:
I have been developing a theory that Magic is feminine and Plot is masculine, and that excessive magic essentially renders Plot irrelevant (emasculates it, you might say! *ouch*)... ...It's here that my sociological training (via feminist studies) kicks in.
Whoa! Hold on there. Magic is feminine and plot's masculine? And you attribute such a piece of gender stereotyping to your feminist sociological training??? What's the (no doubt unwitting) implication here? Achieving a rigorously disciplined plot structure is more suited to rational scientifically-minded males, whereas resorting to magic as a plot device is more likely to be the province of scatter-brained females (bless 'em and their pink fluffy brains)??? I'm sure this isn't in the least what you intended to say, but holy crap, dude! I'm entirely with Murrin here when he says:-
I'm Murrin wrote:
That masculine/feminine bit doesn't sound right to me. Seems like a bit of a gender essentialist approach, which I'll always disagree with.

Having said that, there is a somewhat related point about the difference between male and female magic, but within the fantasy convention. It's the difference between witch magic and wizard magic, if you like. Traditionally, the magic of wizards is learned and involves rules and careful implementation - one error in an incantation, or an ingredient or in the drawing of a pentagram and as we all know, disaster ensues. Witchy magic is typically different - it's innate and instinctual and more often involves psychology (or as Nanny Ogg would have it, "persickolloggy". Mind you, Nanny Ogg also has trouble with the word "banana"... it's not that she doesn't know how to start to spell it, it's just that she's unsure how to stop spelling it).

Speaking of Nanny Ogg and the core convention differences between the magic of wizards and witches, can I exhort one and all to read Terry Pratchett. Compare and contrast the characters of Mustrum Ridcully, the archchancellor of Unseen University and the Discworld's premier wizard, and Granny Esmerelda Weatherwax, the doyenne of the Discworld witches and mistress of headology (and a great deal more besides). Perhaps start by reading "Carpe Jugulum", which also happens to be full of vampires (and not, as we're told "vampyrs", because that's just so last week) and yet still laugh-out-loud delightfully readable. The man's a genius.

Five bucks says that Av chimes in here to add his unswerving support for Pratchett - that is, if he notices this thread...
_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron" Rolling Eyes
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
I'm Murrin
Aren't you?


Joined: 08 Apr 2003
Posts: 15139

Thanks: 7
Thanked 40 Times in 38 Posts

Location: North East, UK
19213 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Rubber Duck


PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That whole way that male and female magic is depicted differently - usually with a sense that women are intuitive and somehow closer to nature, while male magic is more often academic and learned - emerges from sexist biases about male and female strengths, though.

One of my minor issues with the otherwise brilliant Tehanu by Ursula K Le Guin is that it takes this gender-essentialist idea of women having magic that tends to be weaker than the male wizards' but more deeply connected with the nature of things.
_________________
Inspiration Struck.

Mod of the General Fantasy/Sci-Fi Forum
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
ussusimiel
Ghurning

Male
Joined: 31 May 2011
Posts: 5346

Thanks: 69
Thanked 66 Times in 63 Posts

Location: Waterford (milking cows), and sometimes still Dublin, Ireland
7671 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Unfettered1 Member of THOOLAH1 2011 Watchies


PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheFallen wrote:
ussusimiel wrote:
I have been developing a theory that Magic is feminine and Plot is masculine, and that excessive magic essentially renders Plot irrelevant (emasculates it, you might say! *ouch*)... ...It's here that my sociological training (via feminist studies) kicks in.
Whoa! Hold on there. Magic is feminine and plot's masculine? And you attribute such a piece of gender stereotyping to your feminist sociological training??? What's the (no doubt unwitting) implication here? Achieving a rigorously disciplined plot structure is more suited to rational scientifically-minded males, whereas resorting to magic as a plot device is more likely to be the province of scatter-brained females (bless 'em and their pink fluffy brains)??? I'm sure this isn't in the least what you intended to say, but holy crap, dude!

As you have rightly guessed, I am not for a second suggesting that women cannot create disciplined plots (Although I do think that George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen's use of magic is a bit overdone Razz ) My emphasis is more on the appeal these books have rather than their creation.

Now, as this topic has progressed I am beginning to realise that it is at teen fantasy that I am actually aiming most of my analysis. Even the mention of Le Guin fits in, as a teen I enjoyed the Earthsea Trilogy (as it was then). I recently went back to reread them and found them hard going. I found the coming-of-age theme didn't hold my attention any more.

If magic = sex, as it no doubt is in some teen fantasy, then my idea that magic trumps plot in some sense holds up. The teenage experience of puberty is a bit like the eruption into plot of a magical force, both unearned and disruptive of the previous plot. And it may be that in some way this disruption of plot has greater significance. By its presence magic disrupts the plot of fantasy so that it is less similar to our real experience. If magic progresses it disrupts that plot more and more until the fantasy plot becomes almost totally unrecognisable from our own experience.

u.
_________________
Tho' all the maps of blood and flesh
Are posted on the door,
There's no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Wildling
Giantfriend

Male
Joined: 18 May 2013
Posts: 317

Thanks: 0
Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

Location: The Great White North, eh.
803 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
TheFallen wrote:
ussusimiel wrote:
I have been developing a theory that Magic is feminine and Plot is masculine, and that excessive magic essentially renders Plot irrelevant (emasculates it, you might say! *ouch*)... ...It's here that my sociological training (via feminist studies) kicks in.
Whoa! Hold on there. Magic is feminine and plot's masculine? And you attribute such a piece of gender stereotyping to your feminist sociological training??? What's the (no doubt unwitting) implication here? Achieving a rigorously disciplined plot structure is more suited to rational scientifically-minded males, whereas resorting to magic as a plot device is more likely to be the province of scatter-brained females (bless 'em and their pink fluffy brains)??? I'm sure this isn't in the least what you intended to say, but holy crap, dude!

As you have rightly guessed, I am not for a second suggesting that women cannot create disciplined plots (Although I do think that George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen's use of magic is a bit overdone Razz ) My emphasis is more on the appeal these books have rather than their creation.

Now, as this topic has progressed I am beginning to realise that it is at teen fantasy that I am actually aiming most of my analysis. Even the mention of Le Guin fits in, as a teen I enjoyed the Earthsea Trilogy (as it was then). I recently went back to reread them and found them hard going. I found the coming-of-age theme didn't hold my attention any more.

If magic = sex, as it no doubt is in some teen fantasy, then my idea that magic trumps plot in some sense holds up. The teenage experience of puberty is a bit like the eruption into plot of a magical force, both unearned and disruptive of the previous plot. And it may be that in some way this disruption of plot has greater significance. By its presence magic disrupts the plot of fantasy so that it is less similar to our real experience. If magic progresses it disrupts that plot more and more until the fantasy plot becomes almost totally unrecognisable from our own experience.

u.


But isn't that part of fantasy's appeal? I mean, I would much rather read about some kid doing fantastical things than something that sounds like my life. I've seen my life. Hell, I've lived it. It's boring. Magic kid is a lot more interesting.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Fist and Faith
Magister Vitae


Joined: 01 Dec 2002
Posts: 17604

Thanks: 93
Thanked 88 Times in 84 Posts


6430 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Foul Duck1 Lord Mhoram's Victory1 2011 Watchies


PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
Now, as this topic has progressed I am beginning to realise that it is at teen fantasy that I am actually aiming most of my analysis. Even the mention of Le Guin fits in, as a teen I enjoyed the Earthsea Trilogy (as it was then). I recently went back to reread them and found them hard going. I found the coming-of-age theme didn't hold my attention any more.
The main theme is Taoism. Read it again, with that as your focus, and you'll enjoy it much more. Very Happy
_________________
We are not required to save the world. We are required to stand up as truly as we can for what we love. -SRD
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger Phoogle Map
I'm Murrin
Aren't you?


Joined: 08 Apr 2003
Posts: 15139

Thanks: 7
Thanked 40 Times in 38 Posts

Location: North East, UK
19213 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Rubber Duck


PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure that's how enjoying books works, Fist. You can't just say "you're thinking about it wrong, if you think this you'll magically start enjoying it".

uss, did you read Tehanu? I've found that over the years that has gone from my least to by far my most favourite.
_________________
Inspiration Struck.

Mod of the General Fantasy/Sci-Fi Forum
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Fist and Faith
Magister Vitae


Joined: 01 Dec 2002
Posts: 17604

Thanks: 93
Thanked 88 Times in 84 Posts


6430 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Foul Duck1 Lord Mhoram's Victory1 2011 Watchies


PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Murrin wrote:
I'm not sure that's how enjoying books works, Fist. You can't just say "you're thinking about it wrong, if you think this you'll magically start enjoying it".
I most certainly can say that. However, I'm not. What I'm saying is, if u was putting too much attention on an aspect of the story that was not interesting to him at the age he was then reading it, he may have missed another aspect (The aspect that she wrote it for, in fact, although that doesn't matter for my point here.) that might have been much more enjoyable to him. It's easy to be turned off to a whole book by one aspect. Much as many people won't enjoy a movie because of a particular actor they don't like. Might be the best movie going, but they just can't get past that actor.
_________________
We are not required to save the world. We are required to stand up as truly as we can for what we love. -SRD
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger Phoogle Map
aliantha
18k or bust!

Female
Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 17525

Thanks: 27
Thanked 72 Times in 71 Posts

Location: Arlington, VA
13737 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Aliantha Berries1 Andelain1 SRD's Green Rock


PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, first, coming-of-age doesn't necessarily mean sex. Laughing Maturing into the ability to do magic can be just that. Sometimes, after all, a cigar is just a cigar -- or so I've heard, anyway...

Second, I'm tired of coming-of-age stories, too. But for me, the problem is that it's a tired trope: tween kid learns he/she is the only one who can Save the World from Evil, and has to learn (usually by trial and error, as the resident magician ain't coughing up the info) how to wield his/her newfound powers. Usually entails a physical journey, with the usual ragtag band of redoubtable companions, as well. Lather, rinse, repeat. Right? How many books have we all read in which that's the basic plot?

Sorry, Wildling, but I'd *much* rather read a book where the main characters are well out of their teens and not quite so clueless. When you think about it, that's what SRD writes: Covenant is hardly a spring chicken; and Linden's already a doctor when she meets him, which puts her in her late 20s, at least. I think this is part of why we can all still read the Chrons and get something out of them, nearly 40 years later. The characters are (nearly) all adults with adult dilemmas. I find their dilemmas more compelling than "let's give this kid a magic fill-in-the-blank and watch him figure out what to do with it".
_________________



EZ Board Survivor

"Dreaming isn't good for you unless you do the things it tells you to." -- Three Dog Night (via the GI)

http://www.hearth-myth.com/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
Vraith
LibTard, Mr. Reliable.


Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 9727

Thanks: 17
Thanked 85 Times in 83 Posts

Location: everywhere, all the time
34460 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Raver1 Wraith1 Caesure


PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In some of my travels yesterday, u. I came upon someone who, distilled, agrees with many of the implications of your magic v. plot thing. [though a somewhat different angle of approach] Unlike your initial statement, he DOES mean, absolutely, to render negative judgement.

He ABHORS Donaldson, as you can see here:


Quote:
Here's the crucial passage of insight and revelation from The Wounded Land, in which Thomas Covenant in a flash of wisdom perceives the whole point of volumes four to six. I've changed just one word throughout; see if you can spot what it is.

Covenant saw. The Staff of Plot. Destroyed. For the Staff of Plot had been formed by Berek Halfhand as a tool to serve and uphold the Plot. He had fashioned the Staff from a limb of the One Tree as a way to wield Earthpower in defence of the health of the Land, in support of the natural order of life. And because Earthpower was the strength of mystery and spirit, the Staff became the thing it served. It was the Plot; the Plot was incarnate in the Staff. The tool and its purpose were one. And the Staff had been destroyed. That loss had weakened the very fibre of the Plot. A crucial support was withdrawn, and the Plot faltered.

Of course, the word "Plot" in all this replaces Donaldson's "Law" (with one of those significant initial capitals), and of course all Covenant has to do now, in a Lensmanesque escalation of the same basic routine he went through in previous volumes, is go chugging off to cut himself a new Staff of Plot from the jolly old One Tree. I don't know how he does; four volumes was quite enough, though I hear there's an amazingly silly bit with limpet mines in the fifth. Another fantasy first.


But his disdain is almost God-like....even magical. Reaching across multiple universes. For instance:

Quote:
the Force. Credit for this justly celebrated interpretation of Star Wars belongs to Phil Palmer; I'd only like to point out the way it makes sudden and perfect sense of everything that happens in the film. "The time has come, young man, for you to learn about the Plot." "Darth Vader is a servant of the dark side of the Plot." When Ben Kenobi gets written out, he becomes one with the Plot and can speak inside the hero's head. When a whole planet of good guys gets blown up, Ben senses "a great disturbance in the Plot."

If this is beginning to sound like a silly little verbal game, think again. The reason you can play this sort of game in the first place is that the Force is one of those arbitrary, general-purpose, all-powerful plot devices that can be invoked whenever convenient to effect whatever happens to be necessary at the time. The only ends it serves within the logic of the story are those of the storyteller.


Just thought you might find it interesting. The man is relatively well-known.
Born in England, raised in Scotland...I'm starting to wonder about our U.K. folk...

Though, to be honest, his "voice" in the article probably more closely resembles--style/language-wise--something I would write, in certain moods, than something our U.K. Watchers would.

_________________
the difference between evidence and sources: whether they come from the horse's mouth or a horse's ass.
-------------------------------------------------------
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
-------------------------------------------------------
the hyperbole is a beauty...for we are then allowed to say a little more than the truth...and language is more efficient when it goes beyond reality than when it stops short of it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Orlion
Clairvoyant

MaleRanyhyn
Joined: 26 Aug 2007
Posts: 6435

Thanks: 17
Thanked 57 Times in 56 Posts

Location: Getting there...
6992 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Dalek1 Member of Linden's Army1 SRD's Green Rock


PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

People talk about plot like it is the all important aspect of a book. As far as I'm concerned, if that's all you read books for, do yourself a favor and switch to TV or movies.

As far as magic is concerned, I think ideally it should never be explained. That's why it's magic. If it has rules that are exhaustively explained or found out, then you pretty much got a physical physics system, not magic.
_________________
'Tis dream to think that Reason can
Govern the reasoning creature, man.
- Herman Melville

I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all!

"All creation is a huge, ornate, imaginary, and unintended fiction; if it could be deciphered it would yield a single shocking word."
-John Crowley
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger Phoogle Map
TheFallen
Master of Innominate Surquedry

Male
Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 1199

Thanks: 22
Thanked 18 Times in 16 Posts

Location: Guildford, UK
14676 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Member of THOOLAH


PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good find, V... and an interesting article too, which one can indeed imagine having been penned by a well-read and erudite - if somewhat cynical - film critic. I suspect that Z particularly would like to read the whole thing, given his own opinions on reader ignorance being used as a plot mechanic.

As to "relatively well-known", maybe - but not as well-known as his equally British record-producing namesake, say I.
_________________
Newsflash... the word "irony" doesn't mean "a bit like iron" Rolling Eyes
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Phoogle Map
wayfriend
whilom witling

Male
Joined: 21 Apr 2004
Posts: 18255

Thanks: 11
Thanked 186 Times in 173 Posts

Location: The world of the Bowling Green Massacre
40779 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
Just thought you might find it interesting. The man is relatively well-known.

Does this poor bloke think you can have a story without any identifiable Plot in it?

Yeah. The Staves of Law have been poster children for MacGuffin.

But in the end, it's a "Staff of Plot" isn't a negative unless it yanks the story around to the point that the reader is confounded, and the plot cannot be followed.

... and this is absolutely not the same as being able to point out faults in a plot. Everything that is fiction is, by tautology, imperfect. The only question is how hard one has to hunt to find the faults, and how easily the faults grab you. That the faults are there is of little consequence.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Vraith
LibTard, Mr. Reliable.


Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 9727

Thanks: 17
Thanked 85 Times in 83 Posts

Location: everywhere, all the time
34460 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Raver1 Wraith1 Caesure


PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheFallen wrote:

As to "relatively well-known", maybe - but not as well-known as his equally British record-producing namesake, say I.


To the population at large, I'm sure you are correct.
To the subset of SF/Fantasy folk [at least the sub-sub-set who not only read/enjoy it, but delve into the ideas and crit] perhaps not.

Although...who doesn't know "Cruel to be Kind?"
[[and isn't there a fun relationship between that title, the two persons, and the critics likely view of his critical style?]]

_________________
the difference between evidence and sources: whether they come from the horse's mouth or a horse's ass.
-------------------------------------------------------
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
-------------------------------------------------------
the hyperbole is a beauty...for we are then allowed to say a little more than the truth...and language is more efficient when it goes beyond reality than when it stops short of it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
I'm Murrin
Aren't you?


Joined: 08 Apr 2003
Posts: 15139

Thanks: 7
Thanked 40 Times in 38 Posts

Location: North East, UK
19213 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Rubber Duck


PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He seems to just have a dislike for any MacGuffin, in any fantasy story. (And specifically fantasy, I get the sense, suggesting a genre-focused bias.)
_________________
Inspiration Struck.

Mod of the General Fantasy/Sci-Fi Forum
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
ussusimiel
Ghurning

Male
Joined: 31 May 2011
Posts: 5346

Thanks: 69
Thanked 66 Times in 63 Posts

Location: Waterford (milking cows), and sometimes still Dublin, Ireland
7671 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:
1 Unfettered1 Member of THOOLAH1 2011 Watchies


PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheFallen wrote:
Good find, V... and an interesting article too, which one can indeed imagine having been penned by a well-read and erudite - if somewhat cynical - film critic. I suspect that Z particularly would like to read the whole thing, given his own opinions on reader ignorance being used as a plot mechanic.

It's an interesting article alright, and maybe explains why some people can't stand SRD. The critic's dislike of SRD's work is almost obsessive, and his disdain for readers who read fantasy/SF of this sort is fairly scorching. He's obviously not one for blurring the distinction between elite/popular culture.

Personally, of course. I don't care. The criticism of the 'Staff of Plot' is ridiculous, as wf points out. The purpose of the plot is to allow for the development of the characters, which it does admirably in the 2nd Chronicles.

The idea of the collection of vouchers and tokens is interesting, but I've never really found that too annoying over the years. In some ways it's an integral part of the genre. The same as the detective's drink problem and the gunslinger's mysterious past. The point may be, as we've suggested out upthread, the elegant integration of the plot devices (magic being just one of them) into a compelling story that develops the characters (and the world) to such a point that we love them incondignly. Good writing will do that, bad writing will not. Regardless of what critics say, 'what is good, is what you like', not what they would like you to like. I love SRD's books, so that doesn't just mean that they are good, it means that they are either brilliant or genius (or both Laughing ).

Fist and Faith wrote:
I'm Murrin wrote:
I'm not sure that's how enjoying books works, Fist. You can't just say "you're thinking about it wrong, if you think this you'll magically start enjoying it".
I most certainly can say that. However, I'm not. What I'm saying is, if u was putting too much attention on an aspect of the story that was not interesting to him at the age he was then reading it, he may have missed another aspect (The aspect that she wrote it for, in fact, although that doesn't matter for my point here.) that might have been much more enjoyable to him. It's easy to be turned off to a whole book by one aspect. Much as many people won't enjoy a movie because of a particular actor they don't like. Might be the best movie going, but they just can't get past that actor.

The coming of age thing was only part of why I didn't enjoy them on my reread. I think it mostly had to do with the character of Ged. I found that he didn't ring quite true for me, that he seemed more like a vehicle for something rather than flesh and blood. The thing is that I was so intrigued by the story the first time I didn't even notice the characterisation.

I also don't think at this stage that I am going to be overly impressed by a novel that depends on something like Taoism. I'll probably feel that someone is trying to teach me how to suck eggs Laughing

u.
_________________
Tho' all the maps of blood and flesh
Are posted on the door,
There's no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mighara Sovmadhi
A shadow on the heart of the Earth


Joined: 23 Feb 2009
Posts: 977

Thanks: 22
Thanked 7 Times in 7 Posts

Location: Near where Broken Social Scene is gonna play on October 15th, 2010
8266 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In stories where magic has lots of rules, or enough rules or whatever, the fact that "if I say abracadabra the sky will turn red" is like any law of cause and effect that someone would tend to have to deal with, gravity for instance say. It's when the rules of magic turn into convoluted explanations for why people don't have to follow any rules, actually, when doing magic, that this kind of scheme breaks down, I suppose. (I'm vaguely quoting Brandon Sanderson's theory about this topic.)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Zarathustra
Be True


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 16378

Thanks: 35
Thanked 164 Times in 157 Posts


11143 White Gold Dollars
Tokens
HP

User Items:


PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I skimmed the article. The guy's tone is a little annoying, but this part was both funny and true:

Quote:

Sometimes, however, even the Universal Plot Generator breaks down. You may find, in the course of hacking forth your masterpiece from the living pulp, that none of the plot devices hitherto catalogued, none of these little enemas to the Muse, will keep the story flowing; that you can think of no earthly reason why the characters should have to go through with this absurd sequence of actions save that you want them to, and no earthly reason why they should succeed save that it's in the plot. Despair not. If you follow the handbook, you'll find there's a plot device even for this – when the author has no choice but to intervene in person.


I think he needs to come to grips with the fact that fiction is, well, false. It's an illusion. The problem isn't that it's artifice, but rather that sometimes the illusion breaks down. I like the part above because he seems to keep this distinction straight here. When it's obvious that the characters are going through these events only because the author wants them to, then it's a problem. But that's the way all events in books actually are. There might be an internal logic or character development that hides this fact well, but ultimately it's because the author wanted it, not the characters. The characters aren't writing the damn book, even if it feels that way sometimes when you're 'in the zone.' If the author can make himself fall for the illusion that it's actually his characters wanting it, that's when the illusion gets really good.

I'm reminded of the recent discussion on the issue of Linden's mistakes, and the GI quote where SRD conflates his own mistakes with his characters'. Donaldson does a good job fooling himself, sometimes. Laughing Which is another way of saying he's a great writer.

I don't understand this guy's problem with quests for magical objects. Sure, the Staff is a plot device, but that's not the same as a Macguffin. It's actually part of the deep themes of the story. It's essential, not merely accidental or arbitrary. You might be able to replace "Law" with "Plot" if you have no other point but highlighting the obvious (i.e. all such items contribute to plot) but you couldn't replace it with any arbitrary concept like, "Chaos" or "Power" without entirely changing the story and it's meaning. Law is integral to the plot because it balances out the themes (control vs power), not because it gives TC something to do. The latter is only a secondary and uninteresting point. All characters need things to do. But that doesn't mean that everything they do is only to give them something to do.
_________________
Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Thanked by: Mighara Sovmadhi
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Kevin's Watch Forum Index -> General Fantasy/Sci-Fi Discussion All times are GMT
Goto page Previous  1, 2
Page 2 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by Earthpower © Kevin's Watch