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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Saga writing as a blessing and curse.

   
Author Topic: Saga writing as a blessing and curse.
History
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As some of you know, I have trouble coralling my stories and their characters to less than 10,000 words. 5000? Ha. It is too laugh. [Alright I have done so, even sold a flash of under 300 words; but the short form just doesn't satiate my desire to know.]

Best-selling fantasy author Katharine Kerr speaks personally on the inescapable draw of saga writing due to the three mesmerizing Fates: characters, consequences, and the subconscious mind:
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/10/saga-series-and-just-plain-long-books?utm_source=newsletter-

That someone successful understands my tsouris (Yid: trouble) has me all ferklempt (Yid: "choked up").

[Waves his hands at you while bowing his head and swallowing] So go ahead and read it, already; and talkst among yourselves.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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LDWriter2
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I know she's not the only pro with this, Hmm, tsouris


David Weber is one. His short stories are at least as long as yours. And his novels are Looong. At times it's almost like he doesn't know when to stop. And hey the man writes series after all.

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Robert Nowall
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Not bad, that essay. But only recently has any of my work expanded beyond the short story category on any regular basis---and, though I've used a common background for a lot of stories, I don't make use of the same characters from story to story. (Lack of success and the corresponding lack of demand for sequels plays into this, of course.)
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Reziac
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Haha, that essay is me. The most minor detail leads to a major event somewhere on down the line. Nothing is wasted, even apparent throwaways.
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ForlornShadow
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I'm half and half on this one. I tend to do what she does sometimes, but I do somewhat plan out my characters and the general direction I want to go. Somehow I've kept off of the saga bandwagon though; probably because I hate having to wait for the next book to continue reading. If I did do the series thing I'd probably be more episodic and only have two books, I don't think I could write a trilogy or longer.
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MattLeo
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I write over-long stories too, but I don't consider that a virtue. The more I write the more I admire and crave concision.

I'm slogging my way through Song of Ice and Fire, which has points in its favor, but approaching the one million word mark I'm beginning to feel like it's robbing me of time that I should be spending on reading something better. All is not shipshape and Bristol fashion in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea; in the words of the Stan Rogers song the saga has grown "broad and fat and loose in the stays."

Martin has considerable facility with introducing plot complications, but not so much at shaping a satisfying story -- at least judging from this particular work. The books in the series are so bloated and unstructured they don't offer the satisfactions of an actual novel; they're really more arbitrary dividing lines in an endless serial, like a soap opera or reality TV, except on TV every episode tells something akin to a complete story.

And because the SoI&F series just goes on and on and on, I find myself noticing more and more details that are illogical or just plain silly. A professional juggler once told me it's important to decide how many times you're going to repeat a pattern beforehand, because nobody can keep the balls in the air forever.

Being mired in a trackless swamp of epic blither-blather makes crave a simple, well constructed story with a beginning, middle, and end. Maybe something with one or two modest subplots to bring out the story's themes, as long as they don't spread like metastasized cancer.

I want a story I can finish, wanting more rather than one I'm going to put down, wishing for less.

60-80k words is enough for a satisfying novel reading experience.

100k is enough to tell an elaborate story with subplots and secondary characters.

200k is sufficient to achieve epic sweep.

At 400k and above, it starts to feel less like storytelling and more like goofing off in fairy-land.

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extrinsic
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I generally avoid writing serial sagas because they too easily bog down in incomplete action. I'm also easliy put off by sagas that perpetuate a franchise for no apparent rhetorical purpose. Action of the second of three in a series often sags. Middle acts are for rising then falling action, though continuing tension development. An overarching, discernible, tangible action is necessary to sustain a serial saga. The installments must also complete a standalone action.

Artful, well-crafted short stories complete an action. A challenge for short stories is to narrow the action's magnitude, scope, and focus yet express a meaningful transformative action. Deviations from the action are detours.

Might part of the challenges of an epic saga then be what matters and what doesn't to the action? Maybe the action isn't clearly defined and the storyline wanders around seeking a core meaning. An entire epic trilogy's draft writing might not realize the action until the raw drafting phase is over. But the writer yet underrealizes the action, cannot let go of the drafting effort, and only minimally rewrites so that the effort up to that point isn't wasted.

But what completable action justifies an entire trilogy and its installments? One where an overarching undeniable, irrevocable, tangible outcome change of sufficient magnitude is finalized. Voldemoort's final demise, the One Ring destroyed and with it Sauron, Anakin destroying his wicked master and saving his son, Katniss defeating corrupt gladiatoral games, etc. Or in Odysseus' saga, returning home from the Trojan war and from carrousing across the Aegean to reassert his claim to his home, his headman's throne, his son's legacy, and his head-mother wife's favor, by whom and which he has right of rule.

Needless to say, a short story might not necessarily complete a tangible action on the surface due to the form's brevity, but might or should at least complete a less tangible though accessible one. Longer forms, due to their expanded reading investment and signals that longer fiction emphasizes broader magnitudes and scopes, demand a complete and tangible outcome though.

Take O Henry's "The Gift of the Magi." If Della had merely sold her hair and come home to give the watch fob gift to husband James, the short story's outcome would have been trivial in magnitude and trifling in meaning, even for the story's short length. Della solved her problem at great personal sacrifice cost. But really rather simply and straightfowardly. She didn't struggle much with the decision. That outcome by itself would leave out the most meaningful part of the final outcome that gives the whole its substance, that gift giving at great personal cost is deeply, thoughtfully, and meaningfully sharing personal sacrifice. For gift giving, It's the thought that counts.

[ October 25, 2013, 06:01 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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MattLeo, your assessment of SoI&F reminds me of what I heard about Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

Makes me very glad I quit after the first book (never did read Jordan's series, by the way).

I gave up on series, for the most part, after waiting years for Zelazny to write the next installment of his Amber series (and having to reread the earlier books because it had been so long). Don't have time or psychic energy for that kind of thing any more.

I did make an exception for Harry Potter, and have done so as well for a few other series, but I would not have if the first book had not engaged me and made me feel that waiting for the next book was worth it.

Edited to add that I did not read beyond HUNGER GAMES (partly because I heard that CATCHING FIRE had a cliff-hanger ending).

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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
All is not shipshape and Bristol fashion in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea; in the words of the Stan Rogers song the saga has grown "broad and fat and loose in the stays."

Pertinent if one completes the stanza:

She was broad and fat and loose in stays
But to catch her took the Antelope two whole days...


Ain't none of us likely to catch ASOIAF in sales! : [Razz]

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Reziac:

Ain't none of us likely to catch ASOIAF in sales! : [Razz]

And I don't begrudge Martin a nickel of what he's made. Heck, I don't begrudge Dan Browne any of his good fortune, either, and he's not nearly so good a writer as Martin. Both of these writers earned their popularity by doing certain things better than nearly anyone else. I admire that and try to emulate what these writers do well, but it doesn't mean I have to like their work *as a whole*.

ASOIAF might have qualified Martin as on of my favorite writers -- if only he'd wrapped it up in less than half a million words. A quarter million would be better. The more the saga drags on, the more irritated I become with its faults, and I'm usually tolerant of faults. J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite writers, but I can tell you a lot about his shortcomings. That's because faults are more apparent in an epic length work, and LotR tops out at 473K words. If it went to, say, 600K, I think I'd begin to find those faults intolerable. If it were just 5-10% shorter, LotR would have been better in my opinion. I liked THE HOBBIT better than LotR, which makes me weird. SMITH OF WOOTEN MAJOR is my favorite Tolkien work, and that's a mere 10K words -- a "novelette" in SF publishing terms.

I recognize that this is just me; that there are other readers who if they like something they can't get enough of it. They just want more and more of the same thing. That doesn't work for me because I crave the satisfaction of finishing a story. I don't even like television serials. I enjoyed "Downton Abbey" for two seasons, but by the end of the third season I began to wish for closure. I chose to cut off there rather than watch the ensemble claw its way back from yet another in a literally endless string of misfortunes.

ASOIAF isn't a novel series, it's a soap opera with an ensemble cast, just like Downton Abbey.

I felt this way about Harry Potter. The first three books were almost entirely self-contained. The fourth was transitional. The final three "novels" didn't stand on their own; they formed a single 472K word story -- coincidentally almost the exact length of LotR. I found the saga just on the cusp of outstaying its welcome. When I put down DEATHLY HALLOWS I found my ardor for the series strangely diminished. That wouldn't have happened if the final three novels had been standalone stories loosely coupled with background story arcs.

But that's just me. Other people will carry on enjoying ASOIAF or Downton Abbey indefinitely; and I don't see anything wrong with that. They're fortunate.

In any case I've done my bit to contribute to George R. R. Martin's economic good fortune. I'm studying the story to see what I can learn from it, but for me, personally, it has become a joyless trudge through entrails and splattered brains.

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extrinsic
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A strength of The Hobbit is its completion of a dramatic action commensurate with its length. By the way, the secondmost printed fiction novel in the Western canon after only Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

A fraction of readers find short fiction satisfying and within their comfort zones, like backyard adventures vacationing for brief respites from everyday drudgery. A fraction of readers find epic sagas satisfying and within their comfort zones, like African safaries undertaken at great effort and with satisfaction enough for a lifetime. A fraction of readers find no middle ground though many find fulfillment in a variety of lengths. Each form appeals to an audience segment, with overlaps, and with conventions unique to the form. Tolstoy's War and Peace has grand scale and sweep, The Hobbit less so, Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" less yet.

Literary scholars have observed that the Homeric Cycle contains the entirety of human existence and literary technique. Whether that claim is valid is of no matter; cultural codes change and have changed markedly since the Cycle's composition. We likely have little understanding today for the cultural codes valued by Ancient Greece, though their fixation on fratricide and incest evidenced by Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus suggests those sins were in need of expressed correction.

The Cycle is classic epic poetry, much emulated, perhaps to varying degrees in G.R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire saga. Poetry? Maybe in the most liberal allowance, yes, that everyday speech and prose writing resemble iambic pentameter, though dactylic hexameter (five foot of stressed, unstressed, unstressed meter or fifteen syllables) is the foot for epic poetry, that Ice and Fire's figurative language expresses meaning deeper than superficial, literal meaning, that both epics at times excite emotions.

Perhaps Martin's Ice and Fire emulates the Cycle to a degree, at least its epic scope, maybe the Cycle era's conflicts, politics, and cultural stratification, and as such is an imitation--mimesis--that doesn't as fully realize present-day relevance and timeliness as the Cycle still does to a greater degree. Perhaps Ice and Fire's greatest shortcoming lies therein or within its limited emotional relief satisfaction, that the Cycle realizes in parts and parcels.

Cultures and social codes may change. Basic narrative appeals do not. Like tension buildup and relief, upset emotional equilbrium and return to new-normal emotional equilibrium, staged ouctomes of complications that lead on to final outcomes and satisfying final, irrevocable, undeniable complication satisfaction.

In my estimation, Martin does not have as full of an appreciation for finalizing an action, the small turns between beginnings and endings and the larger and largest turns, as readers generally might desire. Intangible complications, figurative ones, so to speak, are challenging to satisfy--less challenging when they are personal, specific to an individual, not an abundant ensemble cast.

War and Peace succeeds for its audiences because the novel personalizes war and peace, makes personal, satisfying meaning from intangible complications. Meaning making, make believe--each in parallel to the other--these are the domain of fiction's truths. This: writer makes meaning for the self out of life's complications using make believe; reader participates in the shared make-believe and meaning-making conversation.

When I was a child, the make-believe game most popular was cowboys and Indians. I was compelled by the group to play a wicked heathen Indian and lose, dying most cruelly. Today, what is the vogue? Ninjas and ninjas? Or is that monopolar fantasy fading, giving way to cops and robbers again, though robbers winning? Mercenaries and terrorists, mercenaries triumphing? Harumph.

Make believe meaning making regardless, with ups and downs, sidelines and center rings, and fortunate or misfortunate, or both, beginnings, middles, and endings to each and all.

[ October 27, 2013, 01:33 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Reziac
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A good example of how tastes differ, so it's a durn good thing folks' output differs too. I generally prefer the ongoing story, or at least the story that feels like it could be ongoing, like it takes place in a world with a past and a future; thus I tend to prefer the longer/series novel and arc-style series TV. The self-contained feel of universe-in-a-bubble is a good deal of why I generally don't care for films or short stories, and am not fond of purely incident-of-the-week TV either.

That said, I do think GRRM has kinda beat to death events across the Narrow Sea and north of the Wall, and I'd rather not do another tour of duty there, thanks very much. Won't stop me from reading the rest of the set, tho. [Big Grin]

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RyanB
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I just read Neil Gaiman's The Wedding Present. It takes place over ~10-15 years. I think it's around 5k words.

It turns out that's plenty of space to make me feel like I know the characters, care about the characters, build tension over a series of events, etc.

In the hands of a master, that is.

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MattLeo
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Gaiman, in his preface to THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, says that he had the idea for the story years before he started writing it, but he put off working on it because he wasn't a good enough writer yet.

I think he was right.

AMERICAN GODS was erudite, clever and haunting, but structurally it was a ungainly mess. It was not unlike manuscripts I've seen from many of my very talented writing friends, only (I confess) just a tad more brilliant than any unpublished MS I've been asked to review. But in terms of craft, I've seen as good or maybe better.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is, on the other hand, a masterpiece. Between AMERICAN GODS and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Gaiman didn't become a cleverer or more erudite writer; he became a more disciplined one.

At 67K words, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is not bare bones (no pun intended) by any means. It is fully elaborated novel with subplots and scenes put in for thematic purposes only. But it feels in comparison to AMERICAN GODS elegantly spare and efficient, reduced to just what was necessary to make the point. I wouldn't be surprised if Gaiman wrote another quarter million words that didn't make it into the final book.

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RyanB
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Interesting ...

Previous to Smoke and Mirrors (I've only read The Wedding Present so far) I had only read Stardust, which was just prior to American Gods. I wouldn't say Stardust was a masterpiece (certainly not elegantly efficient), rather it was deliciously fun.

So I was agreeing with you. And then I discovered Smoke and Mirrors came before Stardust.

So prior to Stardust Gaiman had the ability of elegant efficiency. Of course, this was a short story and not a novel.

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RyanB
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So, I just found out that Gaiman started Ocean at the End of the Lane as short story. When he finished it he thought he had written novella until he did a word count and discovered it was a novel.

Go figure.

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redux
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I thought AMERICAN GODS was expertly plotted, its structure faithful to the story's recurring motif of confidence tricks.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
I thought AMERICAN GODS was expertly plotted, its structure faithful to the story's recurring motif of confidence tricks.

Well, it depends on what you mean. The events of the plot hold together logically; we're dealing with a very intelligent author who does not make sloppy mistakes. And if you are arguing that the novel is thematically brilliant, you won't get any disagreement from me.

But speaking of "tricks", the story has (for me at least) a kind of massive "shaggy dog story" feel. I believe that's why it feels so epic, even though objectively it's not all that long (183K words).

I appreciate AMERICAN GODS for what it is, it just doesn't happen to offer everything I look for in a novel reading experience. Tht doesn't mean I can't regard it as work of genius. We can agree on some things about this book; and we can have legitimate differences that boil down to a matter of personal taste.

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redux
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I'm curious. Could you elaborate on why you thought that AMERICAN GODS was structurally 'an ungainly mess' ?
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Merlion-Emrys
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I'm interested also, although from the standpoint of someone who doesn't really care about structure.

I think I may know what you mean but I want to be sure rather than assume.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
I'm curious. Could you elaborate on why you thought that AMERICAN GODS was structurally 'an ungainly mess' ?

Alright. Let me prefaces this by saying that it's been about ten years since I read the book, and also that reading that book predated my career as a writer, so I was not so sophisticated a reader back then as today. So I might not be able to answer your question as precisely as you might desire. But I'll give it the old college try. First, I would like to discuss my problem with epics in general, and then apply that to what I remember of AMERICAN GODS in particular.

I provide an outline of my argument, so you can skip the parts you aren't interested in. If you don't feel like reading much, just skip down to 2D

1 Problems with Epics in General
1A Epics are risky
1B Road/Quest stories usually stink.
1C Ways epics fail to entertain.
2 American Gods
2A American Gods is an epic
2B American Gods is a road story
2C Things I find downright annoying about American Gods.
2D How I Think American Gods could have been better.

1. MY PROBLEMS WITH EPICS IN GENERAL (I don't require everyone have these problems; they're just mine).

1A: WHY EPICS ARE RISKY

Most stories have a beginning middle and end. I'd like to focus on the middle for a moment. The middle is where we typically throw up road blocks in the in path of the characters' progress, or twist the plot in unexpected directions. These are what we call plot complications.

How many complications can you add to the middle of the story? The answer is as many as you want. What happens if you keep adding more and more complications? You end up with an epic. Epics consist of heaps and heaps of middle sandwiched between a wafer-thin beginning and end.

For example, THE DAVINCI CODE is negligible little story which has been puffed up into an 172,000 through the relentless insertion of plot twists.

But is this necessarily bad? I don't think so. But I do think it's risky.

A long string of complications is what I think of as a "chain structure". If you have 50 links in your chain, you can easily double it to 100, or with more work half it to 25 links, but either way you have a chain. The only indispensable links are on the end. In extreme cases, the order of complications might not matter, so you really *do* have a chain -- what the Turkey City Lexicon calls an "And plot".

But it doesn't matter, as long as each individual scene delights you. Had I been as delighted by every page of the DA VINCI CODE as its fans were, I'd obviously be a lot happier about having read it. But when a scene in a chain structure is less than perfectly wonderful, I have this feeling that I'm wasting my time.

Compare this to structure that is like a watch mechanism. Take any single gear out and the thing cannot function at all unless you fabricate a near duplicate replacement. Obviously, this is an exaggeration when applied to plot structures, which are more malleable than that, but you get the idea. Suppose I'm reading a scene and it's OK, but kind of mediocre. The author *should* have taken it out and replaced with a better scene, but if this scene is essential, at least I'm not feeling like I wasted my time.

I like writing that feels purposeful, and it's easier to imbue every scene in a watch mechanism story than in a chain link story.

1B: Road/Quest stories usually stink.

The problem with stories about trips is that it's all to easy to send a character on a journey while the story goes nowhere.

It feels like laying out a story along a physical road ought to structure it, but it doesn't. I could write a story about walking from Boston to NYC to visit my friend extrinsic, and the only scenes that would intrinsically matter would be the ones in Boston and the ones in New York. I can add stops in Providence, New Haven Bridgeport, and New Rochelle if I wish, or not.

I need to overlay something else on the trip that moves the story as I move down I-95. Maybe I stop to visit an old girlfriend in each of the four cities, so that my voyage to NYC becomes a metaphorical voyage into my past. It doesn't matter how you do it, but progress on the road has to mean something else.

LotR does this. The physical location is tied to the development of the relationships within the fellowship. It's not just one battle after another it's decisions that affect the fate of the characters. It helps initially that the decision to head for the safety of Gondor or directly to Mordor ties in with the ambitions of Boromir and the dilemma of Aragorn. The important thing isn't that they went ten leagues on a certain day and had a battle. That's not how the story is structured. What happens is that the party makes a decision, and they lose a member as a result.

Decisions! I like 'em. Unless I can unravel a road trip into a set of decisions and consequences, it's just a chain structured story to me, and it darn well better be perfect.

But wait, how can *quest* stories usually stink? What about the Campbellian Monomyth? It ought to be a sure thing. Well if you look at the hero's archetypal journey, it's not a mere chain of complications. It's more of watch mechanism structure.

1C. HOW THE EPIC READING EXPERIENCE FALLS APART FOR ME

1C-i. FREEZER BURN

So here's the most common way epics fall apart for me. I'm reading an epic with a cast from A to Z, and I get to a scene with character Q. What the author hopes is that I say, "At last! I've been wondering about Q." What usually happens is I say, "I'd rather be reading about N."

If he's good, maybe he starts to pique my interest in Q again and then he suddenly switches over to G. What he's hoping is that he's whipping me into a fever pitch in scene after scene. Usually what happens is that he's just managed to thaw out my interest when he puts it back in the freezer. And that's only if he's good, mind you.

1C-ii. Complication fatigue.

This is where the author keeps trying to keep your interest by continually topping himself, but inevitably fails if he carries on too long. Classic example: In Song of Ice and Fire, when Jon Snow's party faces a zombie attack that includes a zombie grizzly bear. The critter's scientific name is Ursus horribilis, for Pete's sake. It's already a monster, making it undead doesn't make it any worse.

2. MY ISSUES WITH AMERICAN GODS IN PARTICULAR

So far I feel I'm on solid ground. Epics are hard to do successfully because you've got a lot of writing in them, and it's all got to be wonderful, otherwise you're wasting the reader's time. Now we venture out onto the thin ice of memory; my memory of a book I read a long time ago and sorta liked, but not enough ever to read it a second time.

First some fairly safe observations. This book is epic in scope. lot of things happen in it. It's got many themes and motifs, that's safe to say. And I think it's fairly safe to say that not all the themes, motifs, and complications in the 183K word length are not strictly necessary. If we stuck a pin in the book and selected the complication or motif it landed on, chances are it could be removed from the story without serious damage.

Which doesn't mean it's *bad* story. It means it's a story that needs to hold you in its spell for a 183K words, otherwise you'll be finding yourself bored or annoyed in places.

2B AMERICAN GODS IS A ROAD STORY

Or much of it is, anyway, if memory serves.

As discussed above, a road trip by itself does *nothing* to structure a story. But AG is not only about *a* road trip; it's about a *series* of road trips. But if you unpack it all, it's just a long string of complications, Gaiman's just looped them so they cross each other in space.

Now much of what happens on those trips is simply wonderful. Some of it is horrific. And some of it is meh. And much of it doesn't feel like it adds up to a story somehow. It's dream-like, literally rather than metaphorically dream-like; dream-like instead of story-like. The characters don't seem to have much agency; it's like they (and we) are being forced to take a funhouse ride through whatever series of images and scenarios that bubble to the surface of Gaiman's unconscious.

2C Things I find downright annoying about American Gods.

American Gods is clever. It is brilliant. It is erudite. And it is blatantly all these things.

It's not subtly brilliant, the Charles Portis' TRUE GRIT, where you read it for a rip-roaring time, then suddenly realize things are happening on a whole different level. I'll match TRUE GRIT to AMERICAN GODS any day for mythic resonance, and erudite historical and cultural trivia. But it has two big things AG lacks: brevity (maybe 65K words) and subtlety.

The problem with all this Gaiman brilliance on display is that there's no room for the reader to use his imagination to make the story his own. I believe that a robust story structure helps a reader do that, because we as human being are primed to interpret a coherent series of events as having meaning.

2D How I Think American Gods could have been better.

There's a place where the story comes together and really gels. When the protagonist settles down in Lakeside and comes to grip with the mystery of the place.

Think about that for a second. After all the places we've gone before, it's up to a series of events that happen in *one* place to provide you with a satisfactory conclusion. From here on, no more chain-link plotting. Everything matters.

And that final, I dunno, 30k words? really delivers.

So what about the previous 150K words? Well if they really rang your bell, I guess you have no complaints. But I contend most of those words weren't essential at all to the final, glorious 30K words.

SO here's how I'd make the story better. Skip the tour of America and Neil Gaiman's subconscious and set the *whole* story in Lakeside. Start with Shadow arriving in Lakeside. The cost: you'd lose a lot of great stuff. The payoff: *everything* that was left in the story would be great.

OR, take as many road trips as you want, but instead of 150K words limit yourself to 40-50k words. If Portis can write mythopoetic masterpiece in 75k words so can Gaiman.

[ October 31, 2013, 12:16 AM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

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redux
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Thank you MattLeo for sharing and elaborating on why AMERICAN GODS didn't work for you. I didn't read it as a road story. Instead, the story, to me, was religion, myth and fairy tales interwoven. If the story were set in Lakeside I don't think the two-man con Odin and Loki have going on would have worked.

This is what I enjoy about novels. We all read differently and experience the same text differently.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
This is what I enjoy about novels. We all read differently and experience the same text differently.

It would not only be a poorer world if all readers were alike, there'd be room for far fewer writers.

I'll just reiterate about AMERICAN GODS: I do see the genius in it, and enjoyed it well enough when I read it; I'm simply more of watchwork plot reader than an epic reader.

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