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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Two Pro Sales and What I've Learned...

   
Author Topic: Two Pro Sales and What I've Learned...
genevive42
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I'm not posting this to crow about my sales. I just thought you might like to know some of the things I've learned in the process.

Both sales were after rewrite requests. Both used similar wording about liking the story but being unable to use it in its current form. If I was interested in rewriting, they would be interested in seeing it again. If you get this opportunity, seriously consider it. I'm sure some editors will have ideas you just don't agree with, but in both of my cases, their ideas made for a much better story.

I'll start with the short story that I sold to AE, called Until They Come. The rewrite request from Mr. McCourt gave me some specific ideas about where he thought things fell flat and some suggestions as to how to fix it. I needed a more immediate conflict along with the overarching one. He didn't by any means tell me what to write, just spoke in general terms. I had a question whether he was okay with the open ending, as the story was loosely inspired by Beckett's, Waiting for Godot and he said he liked the ending but needed more tension building up to it. He also went into a mini-analysis of how my story differed in structure from Godot and why it needed what it needed. The discussion with him was easy and informative. In fixing it, story grew from 1400 words to 2100 words.

When I sent it back to Mr. McCourt, he liked it and I had my acceptance and contract within a week (might have only been a few days). He puts new material up every Monday, so it was posted a week later. He made a few small edits without my knowledge. The contract stated that he could do that. The edits were fine, though there was one I might have liked to polish, that's me being nitpicky. A piece of art was posted with it that I had no input on. It was fine too. On the day the story went up, he e-mailed me and asked if I had a Paypal account. I received payment within a day. The whole process was smooth and a good experience.

My novelette, The War of Peace, that sold to IGMS was a bit more work. Mr. Schubert said that essentially, my ending was too easy. Though he didn't have any specific suggestions on how to fix it. This was actually the first rewrite request and it was somewhat onerous for me. My first big shot at a pro pub with a big story. Did I put a lot of pressure on myself? You bet I did. And it sort of locked me up. Without a solid direction, I wasn't sure what to do with the story to make it work. Wasn't sure what would make it work for Mr.Schubert – and stay true to the story I wanted to tell.

I'm part of another online writing group and was going to a retreat with some of them in June. I decided to run the story past them. I e-mailed Mr. Schubert that I was going to do that and asked if he expected the story back in any specific time frame. He said he'd rather have it back great than fast and thought working on it at the retreat was a good idea.

So I went to the retreat and hashed out a new ending, but one with less than huge changes. The group agreed that they didn't go far enough. Then we sat around the fire pit and talked about all of the things they'd like to see in the story. They had some great ideas, and I've implemented many of them. Seeing their reactions to certain elements, like wanting one character to really get his comeuppance, made what I needed to do clearer to me. I came home, I thought, I pounded and shaped, I went back in the story and foreshadowed and came up with another, much stronger draft. Then I tormented my regular readers into looking at it once again. Then I worked it some more. When I finished fixing this one, it grew from 12,500 words to 14,000.

Looking at it and knowing there was nothing else I could do, I sent it back to Mr. Schubert. A month later I hadn't heard anything. At 33 days I queried. Indeed, it had gotten lost in cyberspace. He usually responds to rewrite requests within a week. I re-sent it on Friday, he said he would let me know by Monday. I got the acceptance Sunday night.

He also sent it back with line edits that removed about 650 words. Nothing that changed meaning, just making sure that every word counted. And he asked me to go through and cut at least 500 more. Aargh. I spent a full workday's worth of hours extracting all of the unnecessary words I could find while trying not to lose the flavor and personality of the piece. In total I cut 550. The 'when you think it's done, go back and cut ten percent,' suggestion is one of the best lessons I've learned, even though I thought I wrote pretty clean.

There were also two lines of dialog that Mr.Schubert recommended cutting that I didn't agree with. I let him know how I felt, and why and it was no problem leaving them in. I bring up that I disagreed with something because I want you to know that you shouldn't be intimidated by editors. They are there to work with you to produce the best product possible. I know not all of them will be as great as what I've encountered so far but I think it's best to approach editing the story as a cooperative effort but ultimately, you have say, it's your story.

I will also add that Mr. Schubert has been very open to discussing everything from edits to the artwork that will go along with my story. As the author, he really has my interest at heart. It's been a great experience.

For data on IGMS, I will get contract and payment within about ten business days of publication.

And for those who are still getting a grasp on writing 'rules'. Know that in my story I have passive language. I have sentences that start with 'It' and 'But' and I've got adverbs blatantly flaunting their –ly's. And there's probably a dozen other 'rules' I've broken. The most important thing is to tell a good story. Any rule that says 'DON'T' really means, 'Don't do this too often'. Remember that.

And one of the things I learned about my own writing is that I have to remember to keep the tension up. That was a flaw in both these stories. I'm fortunate that two editors saw the good in them and helped me to make them better.

I know this has been a long post, but I hope it demystifies the process a little and answers some questions you may have had.

Get those subs out there. Good luck!

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rabirch
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Genevive,

Congratulations on the sales and thanks for sharing your behind-the-scenes stories of how it worked.

My first sale (not pro--Abyss & Apex,) also came after a rewrite request. Again, it was not something the editor said, "Do this, and do that," it was much more general and left it up to me how to address. In the end, I believe I added maybe a total of 200 words. It wasn't a lot, but it did strengthen the story.

This was several years ago now, so my memory is hazy and I didn't know about good things like Duotrope, but I am pretty sure the response after submitting the rewrite came fairly quickly.

Just another data point on the subject of rewrite requests. I know that there is no guarantee that you will sell to an editor after a rewrite request, but it seems to me that it is something to seriously consider if given the opportunity.

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extrinsic
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Well said, genevive42, and congratulations.

I believe you're on your way to becoming a winning writer. You've made the difficult cognitive leap toward appreciating the publication requirement of writing a story that appeals to you and to an audience. Private and and public and appeals. Wishing you many more leaps and bounds and successes.

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MAP
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Congrats on both sells Genevive. And thanks for the insights on the whole process.
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LDWriter2
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Wow, good for you....Niiice even.


But I'm surprised they gave you so many suggestions. I've heard of editors asking for a rewrite but not saying all that much about where the story needed work.


I've always thought that if I ever got a rewrite request it would depend on what they wanted changed. Adding some tension probably wouldn't change my basic story but doing away with a scene might.

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genevive42
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Thanks all for the good thoughts.

LDWriter2, I suspect that every editor is different, but if they like your story enough to ask for a rewrite, they want you to succeed. With that in mind, I can't imagine why they wouldn't be willing to share their thoughts on how to improve the story, or at least what they found wrong with it. And if you have to ask, then you probably should. But every editor has their own style.

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Owasm
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Genevive, it's always nice to understand the inner workings of success.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Great post and topic, genevive42. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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genevive42
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Thanks again. Glad you all like the post.
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Osiris
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Thanks genevive, I enjoyed reading this and congrats again.

I remember the last of your work I read was probably about two years ago. I'm curious as to what you consider the main areas of development that allowed you to break into pro markets. My guess would be learning the finer points of story and not worrying so much about the technical/mechanical. This is the phase I feel like I'm in right now, but would love to hear your thoughts on the topic in general.

As for editors, I think semi-pro venues are much more likely to give you feedback on rewrite requests. That's what we did with Triangulation, anyway.

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A Yeatts
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Very enlightening! Thank you so much for posting this. And congrats on both of your sales!
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genevive42
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Osiris, you ask a tough question.

I've been feeling for the last year or so that I've been right on the cusp of getting pro published. That two things hit the right editors at the right time, well, some of that's just luck.

First and foremost, I think clarity is important. All of the mechanics lead to you being able to clearly communicate your intent. Ideas or prose that is vague, muddled or clumsy is problematic. Mitigating words are hardly ever helpful. Once you have clarity, you don't have to worry about the 'rules'.

I've been studying plot, yes, but obviously these stories both needed a little help with that. I'm still looking at this pretty heavily, trying to think plot through before I start writing. This is definitely my weakest area. As I said above, make sure you maintain tension and know how to create suspense. I've quoted it many times, but, "Suspense comes from what you do know, not what you don't know." - OSC is a lesson I learned the hard way at Boot Camp 2010.

Character has always been my strong suit. And I think that was the strong point in both these stories that got me the opportunity to rework them. So for me, maybe it was the combination of good characters and then getting to the point of writing clearly that's allowed me to make the leap.

By the way, I have no illusions. It could be a long while before I make my next sale, or it could be tomorrow. There are so many reasons a story might get rejected that have nothing to do with it's quality or your ability, that you have to take into consideration. I have heard more than once, 'I like this story but it doesn't fit the overall tone of the anthology'.

My best suggestion is work on improving in all areas, especially your weakest ones. At some point it will hit the right editor at the right time and you'll officially be on your way.

I know your work Osiris, and I'm sure you're on that same frustrating cusp I was. You'll get there soon. I'm sure of it.

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Osiris
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quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
[QB] Osiris, you ask a tough question.

Only because I know if you've broken into pro you can handle it. [Smile]

quote:
"Suspense comes from what you do know, not what you don't know." - OSC is a lesson I learned the hard way at Boot Camp 2010.
So funny you mention that, I instructed my writing group on this concept as we were reviewing a story in which the motivation of a POV character was withheld. I knew this nugget came from OSC, and I think you are the one who taught it to me as part of a crit of a WOTF story, but I couldn't find it in a book or website that I could show my writing group. Is this in writing somewhere?


quote:
Character has always been my strong suit. And I think that was the strong point in both these stories that got me the opportunity to rework them. So for me, maybe it was the combination of good characters and then getting to the point of writing clearly that's allowed me to make the leap.
I'm just the opposite I think, I'm strong on plot but weak on characters, and from what I understand, editors tend to care more about character than plot.

quote:
My best suggestion is work on improving in all areas, especially your weakest ones. At some point it will hit the right editor at the right time and you'll officially be on your way.
Yes, indeed, I have been trying to focus more on character development, but for me it has always been less exciting then the Idea(tm), and therefore the plot.

quote:

I know your work Osiris, and I'm sure you're on that same frustrating cusp I was. You'll get there soon. I'm sure of it.

Thank you for that vote of confidence. I do feel like I'm almost there, I'm just frustrated with my inability to commit more than a few hours a week to writing, so I'm getting impatient.

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate it!

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angel011
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Congrats, and thanks for sharing your experience!
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
"Suspense comes from what you do know, not what you don't know." - OSC is a lesson I learned the hard way at Boot Camp 2010.

quote:
Originally posted by Osiris:
So funny you mention that, I instructed my writing group on this concept as we were reviewing a story in which the motivation of a POV character was withheld. I knew this nugget came from OSC, and I think you are the one who taught it to me as part of a crit of a WOTF story, but I couldn't find it in a book or website that I could show my writing group. Is this in writing somewhere?

Ah hah! Another writer exploring the rarified realms beyond the seven veils obscuring writing success. Passing through the seemingly impenetrable seven veils is like learning to ride a bicyle. Lots of scraped knees and knuckles getting there. Once through, bike riding becomes second nature. And you never forget how to ride a bicycle. But try to teach someone to ride a bicycle--you can't save him or her from the heartaches and skinned limbs.

Wikipedia has an article on "Suspense" pertaining to dramatic arts. It's a little superficial and makes a gross parallel between suspense and tension. I know tension as a top level dramatic element and suspense as a feature of tension. The other one being sympathy or more precisely empathy. Sympathy involves pity and fear causing caring for a character's dilemma, more anon, or problem wanting satisfaction, Empathy is caring regardless of which emotions--at least a cluster of two--are foremost. Much more flexibility with empathy than with sympathy. More challenges for a writer too, though. Awe and wonder. Humor and sorrow. Joy and trauma. And so on.

Suspense as I know it is the other half of tension; it's evoking curiosity about what will happen to a character, more anon, suffering a problem wanting satisfaction. Combined empathy and suspense are caring and curious about what will happen.

At the other extreme of a discourse on tension is Gustav Freytag's Technique of the Drama. Dense, obtuse, and inaccessible, yet the seminal treatise on the second of dramatic structure's axes after causation, that of tension, and the features and factors and ramifications of its emergence and deployment as relates to narrative theory and reader theory. It's available free online in several English translation editions from the original German, and also at online booksellers in several paperback releases.

I don't know of a middle ground discourse on tension, and empathy and suspense. Tension gets glossary-like mentions and definitions and significances in Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction, pg 237, and Damon Knight's Creating Short Fiction. That's how I put a handle on tension; bits and pieces here and there helped me to access Freytag's sense of tension and develop my own parameters.

Anon:
quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
Character has always been my strong suit. And I think that was the strong point in both these stories that got me the opportunity to rework them. So for me, maybe it was the combination of good characters and then getting to the point of writing clearly that's allowed me to make the leap.

quote:
Originally posted by Osiris:
I'm just the opposite I think, I'm strong on plot but weak on characters, and from what I understand, editors tend to care more about character than plot.

Editors tend to care more about stories with well developed characters because readers tend to care more about stories with well developed characters because humans are caring and curious about dramatis personaes who share their problems wanting satisfaction, share their fears and pity-worthy problems, share their want for life to be more exciting, more mystical, more fascinating than our everyday routine lives. Some plot and organizing principles notwithstanding.

Why do most popular song lyrics rhyme? Because most songs people listen to, their lyrics rhyme. Their lyrics rhyme because the music culture markets songs with rhyming lyrics. Musicians write songs with rhyming lyrics because that's what the culture wants. Stories with well-developed characters and plot and organizing principles follow suit.

We know that red shirt security officer beaming down with Kirk and Spock will die. Maybe we care that he or she will die, more maybe that she will die. Maybe we're curious how he will die. Maybe we're curious most about how Kirk and Spock will extricate themselves from an obviously deadly situation. In other words, it is what we know that creates suspense, drives our curiosity. Maybe we don't care about the red shirt, but I expect we do care what will happen to Kirk and Spock. We know them like friends and care what will happen to them. We don't know the red shirt.

[ October 25, 2012, 10:25 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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genevive42
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As for the source of the OSC quote, while it might be mentioned in one of his essays on this site, I heard it from him directly. He was speaking to me regarding a story element I had withheld. But it also sounded like something he had said many times before to other students. So I guess I am your source.

And extrinsic, you're right. I don't yet know how to explain what I've done to make the leap. The bicycle analogy is spot on. The suspense comment is certainly only one element, but it's one I've taken to heart.

I will also say that when I got to speak to Ellen Datlow at World Con last year, and asked the standard 'what are you looking for'? She answered quite succinctly: "Voice". Discussions of voice are nigh impossible to nail down. But I think what I took from that was to make sure characters and the intent of the story are well defined. To some degree, know what your story is about. What is the bigger picture that you're trying to get across? What in this story is important for the main character to learn or accomplish? Carry that idea/theme out from beginning to end. Don't compromise it for the sake of the action or an easy ending.

One of the suggestions I got on my novelette was an intriguing idea, and could have led to a twisted and interesting conclusion, but it was so contrary to the theme of the story, I couldn't use it.

So those are a couple more tidbits I've figured out. Things seem to be oozing out of my brain like jelly from a doughnut. Thanks a lot Osiris. Now I have to clean this up. [Wink]

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Osiris
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
We know that red shirt security officer beaming down with Kirk and Spock will die. Maybe we care that he or she will die, more maybe that she will die. Maybe we're curious how he will die. Maybe we're curious most about how Kirk and Spock will extricate themselves from an obviously deadly situation. In other words, it is what we know that creates suspense, drives our curiosity. Maybe we don't care about the red shirt, but I expect we do care what will happen to Kirk and Spock. We know them like friends and care what will happen to them. We don't know the red shirt.

I don't know why you keep calling me Owasm, but nonetheless I appreciate your thoughts, too.

[Smile]

I think the above quote (and other things in your post) helped something hit home to me, and gave me the motivation to work harder on character development. The 'red shirt', as you suggest, is nothing more than a device to convince the reader that Kirk and Spock COULD die, though we know they won't. It simply creates an illusion of jeopardy for the audience. The illusion only holds up because unlike the red shirt, Spock and Kirk have been developed into characters we care about.

It reminds me of Bova's simple equation on his website: character + conflict = story, though after this I'd modify the equation to be more specific:
character empathy + plot tension = story

In the scenario you presented, the equation is:

(Kirk + Spock) + red shirt = story

That is, Kirk and Spock are the characters, and the red shirt really isn't a character, but actually a device for plot tension.

Anyway, I think I'm starting to repeat myself by saying the same thing in different ways. But in any case, thanks for unlocking this connection for me. I think now that I understand better the importance of character development as it relates to plot tension, I'll definitely be motivated to work on it.

Slight tangent, but I think the reason writers take so long to develop is that it takes time for knowledge to become intuition. I imagine it as a situation where we first learn a concept that we store in our left hemisphere of the brain, and must ooze across the corpus callosum to the right side to become intuitive. Only then will it find its way into our writing.


Speaking of oozing:
quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
Things seem to be oozing out of my brain like jelly from a doughnut. Thanks a lot Osiris. Now I have to clean this up.

Can I offer you a mop and bucket? [Smile]
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Robert Nowall
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quote:
We know that red shirt security officer beaming down with Kirk and Spock will die. Maybe we care that he or she will die, more maybe that she will die. Maybe we're curious how he will die. Maybe we're curious most about how Kirk and Spock will extricate themselves from an obviously deadly situation. In other words, it is what we know that creates suspense, drives our curiosity. Maybe we don't care about the red shirt, but I expect we do care what will happen to Kirk and Spock. We know them like friends and care what will happen to them. We don't know the red shirt.

...and...

quote:

(Kirk + Spock) + red shirt = story

That is, Kirk and Spock are the characters, and the red shirt really isn't a character, but actually a device for plot tension.

Even a character who exists only to die so that the regulars don't is still a character---Mr. Redshirt has parents at the least, maybe siblings or wife-and-children, and at any rate, a life---you might be able to get away with that in series television, but it'd never wash in literary work.

To cite another example, Tolkien put a couple of characters in the Minas Tirith chapters (Forlong the Fat and so on), and tells us a little about them before they die, and in some cases how they died, but they're not there so that the "regulars" of his world might live.

Besides...if you're starting out, with all-new characters, nobody knows for sure who your "regulars" are---anybody could die.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Osiris:
I don't know why you keep calling me Owasm, but nonetheless I appreciate your thoughts, too.

My sincere apologies to you, Osiris and to Owasm. My mind is baking under the stress of hundred-hour weeks. And I wouldn't be myself if I didn't self-sabotage with simple idiocies that are yet important, like getting names right. Starting to become a little absentminded too.

quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
I will also say that when I got to speak to Ellen Datlow at World Con last year, and asked the standard 'what are you looking for'? She answered quite succinctly: "Voice". Discussions of voice are nigh impossible to nail down.

Voice too, like tension, is a top tier writing elemental. Beneath it is a pyramid of particular features, related concepts, and like a Venn diagram with overlaps into other areas. Orson Scott Card's M.I.C.E, principles gave me access to Aristotle's Poetics topics of a similar vein. From the Poetics I extracted a six-item checklist, setting, plot, idea, character, event, and discourse, SPICED. Card's milieu I place under setting. A deeper appreciation for what milieu means helped tremendously.

Voice I locate under discourse, but discourse is a broad topic with overlaps into other areas. I broke it down into manageable parts and first principles so I could work with it and build up to it. Two basic qualities of voice in my lexicon are narrative point of view, its inherent narrative distances, and attitude toward a topic or subject. A basic attitude might approve or disapprove of drunkenness, for example. And like plot's fundamental requirement for a transformative change, an attitude is artful and appealing when it changes and transforms as a saga unfolds.

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genevive42
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quote:
Besides...if you're starting out, with all-new characters, nobody knows for sure who your "regulars" are---anybody could die.
Not exactly. It's usually pretty obvious either by emphasis/screen time or choice of pov character whom the story is about and whom you're supposed to care about pretty quickly. Some defy this, but most don't. The first character mentioned by name is almost always someone you're supposed to care about and invest in.

(If I misused whom, I apologize.)

And Osiris, I think a paper towel and some Simple Green should do the trick. Mop and bucket gives me credit for me having a lot more smarts than I do. [Wink]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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According to my understanding, you used "whom" correctly, genevive42. The story is about "whom" and readers care about "whom," so you're good.
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Brendan
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quote:
Why do most popular song lyrics rhyme? Because most songs people listen to, their lyrics rhyme. Their lyrics rhyme because the music culture markets songs with rhyming lyrics. Musicians write songs with rhyming lyrics because that's what the culture wants. Stories with well-developed characters and plot and organizing principles follow suit.
In other words, market expectations push stories to emphasise certain elements which create market expectations. But to counter this, genres can, and have developed different expectations of story elements/emphasis in the past. Is the purpose of a Mystery genre story to develop character? Can you write a satisfying mystery story without much more than cookie cutter characters? If you can’t, then has the purpose of the genre been undermined by editors attempts to “create a wider audience” by their embrace of the character emphasis, to the detriment of the mystery focus?


So too, in science fiction, is the idea story on the decline? Do they not seem satisfying anymore because we have come to expect a larger character emphasis? Is it true that conflicts now almost always seem character based, rather than theme or idea based? Is this due to a merging or reduction of story element emphasis associated to genre, therefore limiting genre differentiation to primarily differences in setting? Or can another Olaf Stapleton, or Asimov for that matter, arise in the current market?

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extrinsic
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I believe a motivation behind wanting stronger character development, not exclusively, derives from a general want for more meaningful personal connections in an increasingly impersonal world.

Mysteries are a case in point, they've adapted to social influences. Psychological horror, like Patricia Cornwell's Kate Scarpetta saga, are mysteries, puzzle stories actually. Less who done it and more why was it done than Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer saga. In order for us to feel safe in our homes, what with mass murderers, pedophiles, and terrorists on the loose with ever more capacity to reach in and harm us though they don't know us and we don't know them, we need to believe in our friend Scarpetta's ability to solve the puzzle of the mysterious white powder.

Hammer was mostly a flat stereotype and not necessarily likeable. He did represent the times: GIs coming home from the war, where they'd picked up a taste for reading to while away the long and boring down times between intense firefights, and finding smart, powerful, attractive women in the workplace. Of course a Neanderthal backlash taking down those wicked women characters appealed to them.

Asimov, I believe, understood this. His use of psychohistory for the Foundation saga--sublime. Adequate character development to engage readers' caring and curiosity about characters' outcomes, tension's empathy and suspense, and ideas, and settings, and events, and plot.

[ October 27, 2012, 10:03 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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I think extrinsic is right. Writing styles have changed over the years. I've recently had cause to read a little Dickens, Stevenson and Shelly. I doubt many of their works would get published in the modern marketplace.

Historically, it was more about the events that shape the world than the characters in it. Characterisation was used, of course, but not to the extent it is today. Today, when most people talk of conflict in a story, they mean conflict between characters. Previously, conflict was either the battle of ideas/ideology, or physical conflict.

Just my opinion, btw.

Phil.

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rcmann
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There's also the plain fact that in the past, most people did not have the option of becoming story tellers. The occupation was a fairly exclusive one, limited to those who could squeeze out the time, who could keep from starving while doing it (meaning working and writing part-time, or already rich) and those who either had the connections and/or the social polish to talk someone into publishing them.

Dickens was a "gentleman". So was Stevens. Shelly was the wife of a gentleman. All well educated and well connected. Modern times permit anyone with access to a public library and the motivation to keep plugging away to become a story teller. A lot of us lowbrows are not interested so much in exploring theoretical ideas. We want interesting stories about interesting people doing interesting things.

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genevive42
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Truth is though, everything changes. Think about how music has changed over the last hundred years. Each generation seeks to redefine itself and distinguish itself from the previous one. World events can shape a generation's view as well. It only makes sense that literary styles would change.

One of the reasons I think that idea stories are on the decline (if they indeed are) is that when they were at their height, the future was far away, wide open and awesome. Now I think we all realize the future is right in front of us. Nanotech, space stations, travel to Mars, even talk of mining asteroids is already starting. Once we break certain tech barriers, it's only a matter of time. So maybe now we're more interested in how these changes are going to affect people, thus, the rise of the character story.

Just my thoughts.

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Robert Nowall
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True dat. We seem to be living the future conceived by the SF writers back when I first started reading---with a notable absence of alien life forms---and much of what passes for attempts to "stay ahead" doesn't appeal to me as a reader.

As a reader. As a writer, I've always thought my ideas were old, but I've tried to put my particular spin on them. (My unblemised record of no cash sales stands as my monument to my efforts.)

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extrinsic
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Sampling best of 21st century fiction novel lists, one novel is on many: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, 2006. Arguably science fiction, soft or social science fiction, dystopia specifically, the novel has a strong emphasis on character and idea development, as well as, of course, plot, event, voice, and setting and milieu.

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, 2004, is an up and coming novel on best-of lists. I haven't read it yet. Science fiction crossover historical fiction. Disapproving criticism of the novel and recent film is that it's "All over the map" (CNN news). Duh-huh, atlas/map, ha hah, and a hilarious criticism. Approving criticism remarks the novel nests six otherwise short stories artfully. Since the novel's storyline focuses on six central characters' remote connections, al la the idea behind six degrees of separation, I imagine both idea and character development are on point. A successful experimental fiction and challenging but entertaining to read, according to approving critics. I'll see as soon as I can make time to read.

Jonathan Franzen's 21st century novels The Corrections, 2001, and Freedom, 2010, are also making best-of lists. I've read them. Idea and character development emphases along with plot, etc.

Idea is not in decline, in my world view. Idea has just become embedded among increasingly congruent setting and milieu, plot, character, event, and discourse development emphases. And and and and and. . . Idea has to share center stage with other writing emphases and is no longer a foremost emphasis for most popular and critically acclaimed fiction, I'll concede that. But idea is not in decline. C'est la vie d'escritur.

[ October 27, 2012, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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genevive42
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quote:
Idea has to share center stage with other writing emphases and is no longer a foremost emphasis for most popular and critically acclaimed fiction, I'll concede that. But idea is not in decline.
Agreed.
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wise
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, 2004,...focuses on six central characters' remote connections...

I saw the movie "Cloud Atlas" today (haven't read the novel) and the central characters are connected through a form of reincarnation or something similar. I thought it was masterful and absolutely fascinating as the stories wove in and out with parallel events and themes. At first I wanted to fight against the quick cutting back and forth through time, but after the first 10 minutes or so I told myself to just relax and allow the story to be told. From that point on I became thoroughly engrossed. I highly recommend it.
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genevive42
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Part one of my novelette, The War of Peace is now up in the new issue of IGMS.

http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=issue&vol=i31&article=_003

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MJNL
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Woot. :-)
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