I just got back from seeing the movie "Eragon." Now, I've not read the book. And my son, who watched it with me, said the movie wasn't nearly as good as the book. But this movie/story was about as cliche ridden as it gets. The storyline would have been chewed up and spit out in F&F... "yawn, seen this all before a thousand times" was my thought, following the opening where all I could think was "infodump infodump infodump."
I'll be curious to see what level of success this movie ends up achieving. My son's opinion on the way out of theater: "That should have gone straight to DVD." I don't think I felt as upset as he was about it, but as I said I haven't read the book.
I'm curious what others think about the storyline? Was it just me on a cynical day? (A strong possibility, given the day I've had...)
It's not just you. The book is a hackneyed amalgam of everything that is wrong in the Fantasy genre today. It's Joseph Campbell's hero journey told abysmally, with trite dialogue and frighteningly caricatured characters (ouch, sorry for the alliteration).
I don't believe I'll be watching it, though my younger brothers have been pretty insistent in their pleading to see it. I might have to bite the bullet.
I went and saw the movie in the vain hopes that the movie could be far better than the book. I was sadly mistaken and $14.50 went to waste for an hour and forty-four minutes of time I could've spent doing something more meaningful.
I also feel it should've gone straight to DVD, but we all can't get what we want.
Eragon has been a real frustration for me. When I read it, I was calling every line and plot twist that would follow chapters before they happened. I skimmed the last third of it, just to try and see why it was hugely popular among my friends. Despite how wretched it is under my critical eye, though, people I know and normally respect could not get enough of the story.
My conclusion is that Eragon is junk food. It's not great reading, but it's not really trying to be. All it's trying to do is cover all the little things that make fantasy good, even if they are cliche. And people pay money for it, so it must be satisfying some hunger for fantasy.
I only went to see the movie because one of these friends already bought the ticket, and I wasn't doing anything else that day. And though it deserves criticism, as a whole, I thought it had several things making it better than the book. 1) It was considerably shorter.
Eragon is a good, light read, for those who are not familiar with the fantasy genre. Meaning, the average YA audience. The book was, after all, written when the author was 15, or 18, or something like that, so you can't expect a masterpiece. It's like reading his AD&D adventure he made up for DMing the night before.
To the well read, or even the poorly read, fantasy genre reader, the book is crap. Well, maybe not crap, but not very good. Eragon would have failed miserably that fantasy test that was posted here a while back. The story is about a farm boy who discovers that he really is a royal dragon rider raise by his uncle, as his parents were killed by the evil king. He find a dragon egg, Eragon, and then magically discovers that the last surviving dragon rider of old is the town drunk who takes him under his wing and ... you get the point.
The movie I will avoid. Planned on avoiding it the second I heard it was coming out.
Though the fact that a poorly written Eragon could make a fortune on sales and movie rights is a boon to aspiring writers everywhere. Turns out you don't need to write a masterpiece to make a fortune afterall.
I'll add my usual comments...from what I gather, Eragon got published, I think, because of the writer's connections, parents involved in the publishing industry.
Nothing of late tends to irritate me more than hearing that somebody who's having a success of sorts--any sort, any arena---is the "son of" or "daughter of" or "relative of" somebody well known. (Or "went to the right schools" or "is part of the old boy's network," or somesuch.) It makes me devalue my literary talent and efforts---would I have made it if my parents had worked in publishing?---and makes me think the whole game was stacked against me from the start. And that depresses me no end.
There are plenty of "relatives" who've done things I've liked. For example, I like the early novels of J. O. Jeppsen, better known as Mrs. Isaac Asimov. (And I voted for George W. Bush, who's certainly a "son of"---depending on who you talk to and what end of the political spectrum you're on.)
But the whole "hotbed of nepotism" situation does not inspire me to pick up a copy Eragon and read it. Is the book worth anything? Maybe. Maybe I'd like it if I read it...maybe I'd like the movie...but I don't think I'm inclined to do either.
Jammrock...quick correction for you - he doesn't discover that he's a royal dragon rider. He [/i]becomes[i] a dragon rider when the rock he found in the woods turns out to be a dragon egg. And, it wasn't the town drunk wo was the last surviving dragon rider, it was the town story teller. Sorry...had to make sure that people aren't getting the wrong information here.
I'll be blunt - the movie sucked. I wanted to slap myself when I got out of the theater. I'd keep most of the actors, but change everything else about the movie. It was like they were trying to get the entire movie into a certain timeframe and so they kind of glossed over or completely skipped certain parts of the story.
My two cents...if you don't like, I'll take a refund then.
quote:Eragon got published, I think, because of the writer's connections, parents involved in the publishing industry.
This is not correct. I just read the story of how it transpired, and what really happened is that the author, Christopher Paolini and his parents (keep in mind he was still a teenager, living in Montana) self-published his book. He was home-schooled so I'm sure the folks considered this a good lesson in economics, marketing, and the publishing industry. The family promoted the book heavily for over a year, giving 135 presentations at libraries, schools, bookstores, etc.
In the summer of 2002, a published (Carl Hiaasen) author's stepson bought and read a copy of the self-published book while on vacation in Montana. Hiaasen then brought the book to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, who bought the rights to the trilogy. The rest is history.
Ah, but how and why did Carl Hiassen's son buy and read a copy of it? How did it get into his hands? I didn't hear of it until shortly before the professional publisher, Knopf, was about to release it---and I'm attuned to SF and fantasy. Why did Hiassen read it at all? It hardly seems up Hiassen's alley, if his own work is any way to judge.
I still think "connections" are the connection here. I never heard anything of this sort accrued to, say, Harry Potter.
I think the appeal of this story is like if someone of your religious faith wrote a story. Except the religion is being 15 years old. I mean, I bought Planet of the Jews. I'm not Jewish, but I worked at a synagogue so I thought it would be interesting. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but the typesetting of large chunks of text in comic sans has moderated my expectations.
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quote:Ah, but how and why did Carl Hiassen's son buy and read a copy of it?
Ahem... did you read my post? The family lived in Montana. The book was heavily marketed in Montana. The kid made 135 personal appearances promoting his book, dressed in medieval style clothing, at bookstores, libraries, etc. The book was all over the place... IN MONTANA.
Hiaasen's stepson bought the book while they were vacationing in MONTANA. It was easy to buy at the time. The stepson LOVED the book and raved about it. Thus, Hiaasen, got it into his hands, and apparently felt it was good enough to alert his publisher about it.
quote:I'm attuned to SF and fantasy.
Apparently that wasn't enough. You would have had to also be attuned to the self-published industry coming from the state of Montana.
Things like this can happen due to a combination of lucky events. Something like that happened to me the other day; I work at a newspaper in Oregon. We got hit by a giant windstorm last Friday --it clocked wind gusts of 137 mph on the Oregon coast, although we only got gusts up to 69 mph in our town. Anyhow, the wind blew a trampoline into a tree, and our photographer got the shot. I was replying to an email to the regional Associated Press Bureau chief, who is due to come pay us a visit soon, and casually mentioned the trampoline picture. AP calls us, asks us to upload photos, bingo... our pictures are on national news. It's not manipulation of the system, or a case of getting unjust advantage... that would be a cynic's point of view.
It's just a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, following a hell of a lot of hard work.
In my opinion, the kid who wrote Eragon DESERVES his success, to some degree, because dang it... he did everything right; he applied BIC (butt in chair, for you newbies), he edited, he and his family paid self-publishing costs out of their own pockets, and they heavily and agressively marketed the book for over a year before "luck" coincided with them.
He believed in his book, and so did his family. Regardless of the fact that the story is pretty simplistic and full of cliches, it's still an admirable story of success, and one Christopher earned through hard work alone. Had he not been so agressive with his marketing, the book wouldn't have been in the bookstore in Montana for Hiassen's stepson to buy, and fall in love with.
I only hope that when my book is finally done, I can believe in IT as much as Christopher believed in Eragon.
I was one of the YAs in Montana that Paolini was targeting, and it was not difficult for a child interested in books to hear of it. The Paolinis did a good job of marketing.
The book itself, however....let's just say, inspiration to writers everywhere. If that can get published and on the NYTimes bestseller list...
Granted, I read the first, self-published edition. Knopf edited out approximately 20,000 (if my memory serves) words before publishing it, which would have improved it greatly. I also feel like some plot and unpredictability would have helped, but you can't have everything.
I'm still impressed with the process Christopher Paolini went through, but the end result...not so much impressed.
Here we go, trying to salvage our writerly dignity and self-confidence by denigrating something successful. I wonder how often it occurs to us to figure out what this book is doing right rather than submitting it to death by a thousand paper cuts.
If hundreds of thousands of people can't get enough of the story, it doesn't freaking matter how it got popular. I mean, it's nice and all to use its publishing history to trash it, because, you know, that lets us entertain the conceit that if only it had been our stories that had that extra bit of help...
Nah. Under the mounds of bad plot, predictable story, and stilted dialogue that are somehow more cliched than this thread, it's doing something terribly right. I wonder what it is?
Yes, I'm going to lurk on Hatrack forever just to make sure this gets brought up in every one of these kinds of threads. Take off your writers hats and look at the story as a reader. What is it doing right?
If "what makes a best seller" was something I could figure out, I'd've figured it out and gotten something of my own on the lists. I still think "connections" got Paolini's book through the door at Knopf---but I have no idea why it sold as well as it did after it got there. On its merits? Maybe, could be, but I can't also rule out savvy marketing, or the times being right, or somesuch.
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but denigrating successful things is fun...
My problem with figuring out what the book is doing right is that it isn't doing the right thing for me. There are other books that I do like that are also successful, and I would rather study those.
I don't mean that to sound close-minded. Writers should try to read and understand everything. I've tried to understand why Eragon is popular, and I have some theories, but since Eragon is not my idea of a good book I am simply going to file my knowledge/guesses away and try to emulate the books I do enjoy.
And I don't think explaining the book's publishing history is in any way an attempt to "trash it," at least it wasn't for me. Remember, Paolini himself DIDN'T have any real connections. What happened to him (book randomly picked up by child of other writer) could happen to anybody who self-publishes and puts the right kind of a marketing push behind their work.
Envy and jealousy are part of it, after all. But I'm also a serious reader---and hearing of this kind of publishing shennanigans doesn't put me in any mood to part with my hard-earned cash for a book. It's hardly the only one.
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I will say that I don't really care whether the plot, idea, story, or even dialogue are trite, cliche, one-dimensional, or simply silly on the face of it.
I care about craftsmanship, about which nobody here has said even a word. Maybe the book has it, maybe the movie doesn't. It could turn out the other way round. I don't really know one way or the other. But by "craftsmanship" I don't mean literary contrivences or innovative use of light and shadow (though I'm not really opposed to either). Taking the film, I mean stuff like being able to tell not only that something is a poorly done special effect but also being immediately aware of the technique used to create it. Things like actors who are barely in character (this is not about whether the characters themselves make any damn sense) and takes that simply couldn't have been the best out of more than one take. Scenes that add nothing but prurient interest or cheap viscerality.
Moving to writing, it's harder to define. Wonky usages and confusing language, poor use of POV so that I don't get involved with the characters, outright stupidity or gross ignorance on the part of the writer, these are all part of it. I suppose that I want the text to convince me that the writer cares about the story, whether or not I've read dozens or hundreds of similar stories.
Like I said, I don't know whether or not Eragon is any good, either the book or the movie. If I find out I'll let you know what I think. But I think that hating on the plot is a signal of envy. It's the sort of thinking that seizes on the easiest part of writing a story and says "I can do better than that" without acknowledging that the idea is nothing without the execution.
Regarding craftsmanship, it's been at least two years since I read the book and forgot a lot about it, but what I remember is that it was adequate enough to keep me reading.
It reminded me of Terry Brooks; I like Brook's writing and started out loving his Shannara series, but with each sequel I picked up, I felt that I'd already read that story before. The talent was there, but it wasn't capturing my interest anymore.
The same thing happened with Eragon. I started out enjoying the story because Paolini knew how to string more than two words together. My enthusiasm died about halfway through, because I realized that I'd read the same kind of story before. He could write; I just wasn't interested anymore.
I stand by what I said earlier, Eragon is junk food. There's nothing wrong with having junk food; whatever junk food has going against it, it still tastes good and can fill you up. And I have quite a few friends that enjoy the book a lot (these are the guys who really hate the movie); I'm just not of them.
quote:I also feel it should've gone straight to DVD, but we all can't get what we want.
Hahaha... as an economist I must admit I'm not sure where this argument is going at all. The film is in theaters not because it's a good or bad movie, that's totally irrelevant, Eragon is there because it equals money. People are paying money to see it, therefore it deserves to be in theaters.
Show business is a business after all.
Now whether or not people should be paying $14 to see it... Well that's a different question. To be rational then you must expect the experience of viewing it to be at least equal to the cost mentioned. About 2 hours and $14. So, at the end of the day, ask yourself why you paid that cost to see it. Then there's your answer. Personally $14 seems high to see any movie. Where I live it's commonly $4 for an early show.
quote:This is not correct. I just read the story of how it transpired, and what really happened is that the author, Christopher Paolini and his parents (keep in mind he was still a teenager, living in Montana) self-published his book. He was home-schooled so I'm sure the folks considered this a good lesson in economics, marketing, and the publishing industry. The family promoted the book heavily for over a year, giving 135 presentations at libraries, schools, bookstores, etc. In the summer of 2002, a published (Carl Hiaasen) author's stepson bought and read a copy of the self-published book while on vacation in Montana. Hiaasen then brought the book to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, who bought the rights to the trilogy. The rest is history.
EVERYONE is misisng the big point here... Who the hell would go on vacation in Montana?
[This message has been edited by Zero (edited December 22, 2006).]
well that's grand if you like mountains and cows and things... I suppose I've never been there but I've always imagined it as a big-giant extension of Wyoming, which without booze and fireworks is awfully dull.
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Hey I enjoyed the Book, But then I enjoy Star Trek Novels and cheap men's serials like the Destroyer and Executioner. I know technically they are crap but I enjoy the "junk food". Sometimes I enjoy not having to work at it, I enjoy knowing the characters well enough not to have to discover them all over again. Eragon was like that. Easy to read nothing tricky. All the detail like was the old man the town drunk or the town story teller, I couldn't care less about for this level of reading, it doesn't matter. Brain Candy, and Kudos to Paolini.
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Paolini should be a lesson to all of us : The masses aren't starving for someone to write an epic poem like Paridise Lost... They want cheap, short action , simplicity , heck they want what is cliche . Look at the junk Hollywood turns out these days . Same stuff over and over , but its what most people want. Paolini's success should also be inspiration to all of us ,whether we respect or hate him . Hate him? ( i know i do) Lets beat him at his own game, and show the world that literature shouldn't be made a prostitute . Respect him? It shows that you don't need a university education to be a writer.
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I read the book from my high school library and I liked it. I even bought the sequel, which I also liked. But the movie just felt like it tried to cram too much information into too short a time span. After it was over I even told my mom and little brother that the movie felt like an info dump. I do still, however, have great respect for Christopher Paolini as a writer. I admit there are many cliches and its not a complexly written tale, but the story is still good. I will still buy the third book. And I agree completely with Elan, Mr. Paolini deserves the success he has had. A lesson we can all take from him is that for our writing to be published, we must believe in our own talents and abilities and the stories that we tell. I myself am guilty of not believing enough in any story I have written and I haven't submitted any stories yet, thus I haven't been published in anything but my county newspaper. The more I work at my writing the more I can see what I am doing wrong and right, as well as with the help of people on this forum. I think we can all agree that we would all love to have the degree of success that Mr. Paolini has had.
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"Junk food" is an excellent way of describing this story. Like a big bag of Doritos, you start with one page and keep going because it's not bad. Then the taste fades into the background, but you're still putting away page after page, until the whole thing is gone and you're left feeling overfed, bloated and remorseful.
I liked Eragon when I read it (to a point; by the time Paolini's somewhat-engaging world of Alagaesia faded into the background, I was reading because I was holding out hope it would get better, and because I wanted to see if there was a cliche he wouldn't whole-heartedly embrace), looking back, actually remember very little of it.
I saw the movie, and read a little of the first book before I grew a bit apathetic toward it and set it aside.
The movie was great for my kids, who were engaged by the dragon and mysticism. Beyond that, it did little to impress.
I don't mind the predictability of it, and the complete failure to develop a character could be the result of many things, including the need to condense several hundred pages of story into a 120 page script.
What dissapointed me were all the inconsistencies -- a given type of warrior is nearly impossible to defeat mano a mano, and yet this kid battles them without even a scratch. We're told of the "price" for using magic early on, but never see this cost to the hero after the magic is used multiple times. There were many such problems that left me feeling a bit cheated.
Perhaps that's different in the book, I only read a few pages of it, but I have a feeling otherwise. I don't mind formulaic storytelling or Cliche fantasy (let's face it, most genre fiction is riddled with cliche at one level or another); so long as it's done well I can appreciate the same story in any number of different incarnations (how else does "the Nativity Story" manage to sell tickets?). But the movie and/or book has to be consistent and told well.
Man, I've got nothing but love for Doritos. I'm only saying that a bag won't fill me, and that with a taste that consistant, it'll eventually bland out, and therefore wouldn't be as memorable as a restaurant meal, where you (ideally) get more than one taste to your meal.
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How is it that you can eat a whole bag, then? I'm just asking, because that seems weird to me but everyone says it about everything. I mean, let's say that I have a basket of fresh strawberries and a Frosty (chocolate and hazelnut flavored thick shake by Wendy's). I can just eat those strawberries dipped in Frosty till I run out of one or the other, and when it happens I'm like "Oh nos!". At no point in time am I not completely aware of how delicious each hazelnutty, chocolaty, creamy, strawberry-y bite was and how much I want the next.
Okay, let's throttle back a little and say it's just a bunch of strawberries. I don't just munch them unappreciatively like a cow eating it's own cud (yuck!), I savor each individual one. If not, then what is the point of eating them?
Or, let's talk about Doritos. I eat them till I feel like not eating anymore, then I stop eating them. But apparently I'm the only one.
I could go on for pages on why I have a problem with Paolini and his stories, but I do have to say he tried something and it worked, so good for him. However, I can show in one quote why so many writers have an issue with him:
"Characters are born out of necessity" - Christopher Paolini
Any person who has ever spent more than a week on a story can understand why this statement is so infuriating. He represents many of the things that we as writers work so hard to avoid being. His characters are one-dimensional, uninteresting, and sometimes unnecessary Mary Sues. His plot borrows completely from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and contains many elements that break our suspension of disbelief, which are things that we discuss about on this board and try to avoid doing. Finally, his writing process did not seem to be anything like ours as he simply woke up one morning, started writing, finished, edited a few times through, and got published with "no" problems (Being 19 years old, still living with your parents, and appearing before dozens of youngsters in a goofy medieval costume may equal the arduous process of getting published...I'm not sure) Finally, he wasted this wonderful opportunity by selling a book, that given a few more years of polishing, could have been excellent. I mean I see thousands of places in his books where he could have done a better job with more experience in writing.
I don't understand what's wrong with saying "Characters are born out of necessity" other than that it isn't very, um...definite what that's supposed to mean.
As for borrowing elements from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings...neither story invented the core concepts that made them really great stories. I've never once suggested that anyone should try to avoid emulating the plot elements of such archtypal works in the fantasy genre, and I don't know that anyone else has seriously suggested it either.
As for being published with "no" problems, that "no" definitely deserves to be put off in quotes. Yes, I think that literally betting the farm on your novel does count as putting a real, if unconventional, effort into it. More importantly, I think that even to suggest that there is anything wrong with an author's work simply because that work was written and published before the author spent a certain number of years trying to break in...it largely invalidates everything else you say, because that criticism is so fundamentally flawed.
Then you finally admit, in the most backhanded way possible, that the story had serious potential.
I haven't read any of his writing, so I can't really say nay or yea to whether or not it's all that good or bad. What I will say is that the quality of the criticism I've seen persuades me that almost nobody is really put off by the text itself. It seems like simple envy is the predominant motivation behind almost everything negative that's been said thus far.
You might all take a cue from how I treat, say, J. K. Rowling. I've tried to read her work, and it actually put me off of the movies, which I had previously found fun if not exactly amazing. But hey, they're kid's books, and a lot of kids and parents seem to like them just fine. Nobody is claiming that they represent great literature, so I'm content to leave well enough alone. Of course, it helps that she's not even close to the level of wealth that could tempt me to envy
What I have found that statement to mean in context is that he does not treat characters as being the core of his stories, but things he can throw in to serve a purpose and disappear without another sentence. While that logic can work for smaller roles, he applies this mentality to main characters. Eragon is a robot that acts in whatever way is convenient for the plot. Eragon needs to be angry, so make him angry. Eragon needs to be courageous, so make him courageous. We follow this kid for a couple hundred pages, expecting for his character to develop, but he remains this angry and vengeful alcoholic (he gets drunk at least twice in the first book). With Saphira the dragon, Paolini had an excellent opportunity to do what few other writers had tried and actually give a dragon a personality. But instead, he goes the easy way and makes her this all-knowing being from birth who saves Eragon just in time everytime he is trouble.
I may be an individual who prefers character development to a linear plot, but I have never read a book in my life where the main character never wavered in personality and was not punished for it. It just throws off the balance of the universe when a person can behave in a self-destructive manner and not see the consequences of those actions.
Personally, I did not like his book for the simple reason that he let me down. Everything seemed so promising in the beginning, and I read on and on, hoping to see all that potential come to a head, but it never did. He betrayed me and many others, but got away with it because "he is a just little kid, who doesn't know any better."
quote:With Saphira the dragon, Paolini had an excellent opportunity to do what few other writers had tried and actually give a dragon a personality. But instead, he goes the easy way and makes her this all-knowing being from birth who saves Eragon just in time everytime he is trouble.
I've read Eldest, the sequel to Eragon. In that Paolini actually explains why Saphira is the way she is.
I think he called it the "Blood Memory" of dragons or something like that. I haven't read it in a while, but I do remember that one piece of infortmation.
Plus in all fantasy, aren't dragons mighty, arrogant, all-knowing beings anyway?
I'm still trying to figure out why puppet characters are a priori a bad thing. I mean, yes, they're uninteresting and inconsistent, but if the point of your story isn't to have interesting or consistent characters - especially if the events are interesting - then what's the problem?
Remember MICE? How about Atlas Shrugged, or any of Clarke's fiction?
It seems like Paolini's writing infuriates critics and writers mostly. I can't think of why that would be, except that he did spectacularly well by ignoring things that writers hone for years and years and things that critics spend years and years looking for. I suppose this would be especially bad for people who make those things he ignores into their pet specialties and magnify them beyond all reason.
It only reinforces in my mind that we too often hone the wrong things. So again, without the backhanded envy nonsense: what did he get so terribly right?
[This message has been edited by trousercuit (edited December 29, 2006).]
Fantasy Writers are you ticked off that schlock gets one, two, three + novels and a movie, while your brilliant and innovative book gets rejections?
How did this guy get "in" and you can't?
Same for writers of any other genre. It obviously isn't really good writing, plot, new ideas that get published. Who's paying off whom? If I have to (have relations) with somebody, then let me know who it is.
Paolini's Parents own a publishing company , he said his father helping him edit his work . Sister doing the cover art etc. Whats infuriating is that people don't appreciate good art, what is presented to the masses as 'popular' sells better usually . Look at how well Paris Hilton's music did.
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Oh, the design and cover artwork were things I liked about it. Seemed, whatever you might think of how it got published, they were giving it a good and proper push...
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quote:Paolini's Parents own a publishing company , he said his father helping him edit his work . Sister doing the cover art etc. Whats infuriating is that people don't appreciate good art, what is presented to the masses as 'popular' sells better usually . Look at how well Paris Hilton's music did.
They don't own a publishing company, they self-published. I'm guessing it took a lot of work. And then they still had to sell it. Say what you will about the writing, I haven't read the book, but he didn't just fall into his success.
Seems like most of the griping in this thread is coming from jealous people. Why do you care what the "masses" buy? You must be so devoted to the craft and art that you don't even care how popular your writing is, correct?
What's the big deal? The kid wrote an unoriginal ripoff story and had wild popular success. So did Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, and Robert Jordan (to differing degrees). That's life. Most literary type works, masterpieces of theme and characterization, languish on the shelves unsold. It's like food. Not many people buy Kobe beef. Lots of people buy junk grade E hamburger. No one is telling the Kobe beef farmer that the industrially processed, horomone-jacked cows that are selling by the boatload are objectively "better" than his hand-fed, massaged, and meticulously cared for Kobe cows. It's just that those cheap cow products better fit the tastes and lifestyles of most of the consuming public than does Kobe beef. The kobe farmer shouldn't be jealous. He should realize that most of those consumers would put A-1 sauce on a kobe steak anyway. Probably better that they don't buy it in the first place.
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Granted, we're not hearing complaints from Kobe beef farmers here...well perhaps the analogy only stretches so far. Kobe beef is from...Kobe. In Japan. Where it dominates the beef market. So, the complaints about Eragon don't seem to be coming from foreign language authors who think that books like Eragon are unfairly crowding out their translations.
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Well, of course it's jealousy...but jealousy with a point. Why have I, with my talent-but-no-connections, come up empty all these years, while he, with his talent-plus-his-connections, gets something published and onto the bestseller lists?
The he could be any of a lot of writers. When I see, say, a prominent SF editor say something like, "I met this guy at the Milford conference...later I read his manuscript and I'm publishing it," I just wonder how fair the submission process actually is. What was the point of my submitting if my manuscript is passed over in favor of one by a guy who knows a guy who knows the editor? (My chances of making an appearance at Milford are slim-to-none---hey, I don't even know if they're holding them anymore.)
How a book gets published does not mean it will be popular. Granted, if you have a bad publisher, you're not likely to get very far, but even if you do have a good publisher, your book can still flop. What makes a book famous isn't how it got on the shelves, it's the people who took them off the shelves and bought them.
Really, you're getting frustrated with the wrong people. Publishers just offer the selection, and the readers take what they want. Eragon still could have flopped despite its publishing connections. But the audience paid for it and enjoyed it.
I didn't like it, but that's personal taste. By the end, it bored me. I don't see why I should be agonizing over Paolini's success; there are plenty of other successful writers who I also don't like, but that shouldn't bother me unless I foolishly paid money for their work. This is where borrowing books comes in handy.
The thing about Paolini...and this is going to be a little awkward to say since I really haven't reviewed his work...his "connections" followed his display of "talent". His in came from an established author getting a copy of his book, reading it, and recommending it to Knopf.
Yes, that connection allowed him to do an end run around the dreaded slushkillers who guard the usual entrances to publication. But the fundamental nature of the connection was based entirely on his work, not on some extrinsic factor like having "had relations" with someone.
Now, I'm not going to say anything in favor of "connections", though it occurs to me that aspiring writers (writers who wish to become famous, or at least published) often do themselves a disservice by positively cultivating antagonistic (or otherwise unharmonious) relationships towards working editors and established writers. But a "connection" that was based solely on contact with the text itself...that cannot be dismissed as "favoritism". Otherwise you have to say the same of every story which an editor buys because he happens to like it (we will presume that female editors always have more mysterious reasons for their decisions ).
The guy didn't get an inside break, y'all. Someone looked at the text itself and said, "you know, Knopf would do well to pick this up." As they did.
Okay normally I defend Paolini in such debates because as I encounter them, they are usually born of envy. However I am going to have to back Mystic on this. His point of view and experience with the books greatly resembles my own thinking.
Paolini's characters are not particularly important. We have a hero, that's necessary and a villain to match. Cookie-cutter and cliche as they are, they exist out of necessity. Other than that we have our Brom/Gandalf/Dumbledore character... that's really everyone that matters. The rest are just a rainbow of candyland colors. One crazy lady in particular has no relevance he created just as a tribute to his own sister. These are not necessary characters, they are there simply to give population to his world. Whether or not that is bad is a subject for another debate, but it is ironic and quite hilarious [to people who have objectively read the books] for Paolini to criticize the practice of using non-essential characters when he is the very author of such a practice.
Um, I don't think that you're backing up Mystic's point...but that could be a difference in how I'd define main characters and how Mystic does.
If he's decided to create characters who are somewhat more elaborate than is usual for the spear-carriers and cast of thousands...that's possibly a part of the appeal. I don't see it as unnecessary if it contributes to the success of his work. If, on the other hand, he gives the major characters the motivations they need to carry the plot forward, that's also clearly necessary.