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callehe
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« on: August 23, 2011, 10:14:57 AM »

So depressed over how series turn to shit in front of me.

After dissppointment with WoT , Harry Potter and ASOIAF regarding the long ass storylines that lead to bumfuck nowhere; I'm curious to ask you my fellow arm chair developer/writers, what is the best recipe to keep track of that big ass story? How pull yourself out of that mess which has become most of our favorite epics of late?

Perhaps writing an epic book is too much for one poor writer, perhaps the paradigm should change for writing books, they should be written by teams of specialists instead of one overloaded chap:
1 main story outliner
1 dialogue writer
1 world builder
1 filler writer
1 action writer
etc

Perhaps writers should write iteratively instead of procedurally?

Ultrafast prototyping?

What can writers learn from developers/film producers/programmers and vice versa?

We nee a prescirption against all the banal shit boring-ism out there, what is it bros?



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saka-rauka1
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2011, 12:46:58 PM »

A team of writers won't work nearly as well for books as it does for film/tv/games.
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Nick
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2011, 12:54:08 PM »

Ask Vince how to keep track of big ass branching story.
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2011, 01:47:38 PM »

We nee a prescirption against all the banal shit boring-ism out there, what is it bros?
In a lot of cases, it's shorter stories, or at least more focused. A lot of fantasy goes bad because it just goes on and on and on. It just stops being interesting after a while, either because the writer looses his feel for the work, or because I grow tired of the characters and plot.


Ask Vince how to keep track of big ass branching story.
Actually, I'm certain I would not be alone to enjoy a more in-depth article on this. Something for the Depository, perhaps? It has been awfully quiet there lately.

edit: On writing a big ass branching story, to clarify. Not just on keeping track of it.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 01:54:40 PM by Villfarelse » Logged
Vince
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2011, 02:00:43 PM »

I think the problem with WoT, Harry Potter, and especially ASOIAF is the scope. We aren't talking about one story, but a long, almost endless chain of stories revolving around the same characters. It's relatively easy to come up with a story fitting the standard format (beginning, middle part, ending/conclusion), but much harder to keep the fire going with "beginning, middle part, middle part, middle part, middle part, middle part...." without boring the reader to death.

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« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 06:07:05 PM by Nick » Logged
saka-rauka1
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2011, 05:02:19 PM »

^Spoiler tags maybe?
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Nick
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2011, 06:08:18 PM »

Indeed. I have the book near me, just waiting for its time after I finish rereading Burroughs' Martian chronicles, and you throw around stories like that, Vince. How could you.
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"Oh, 'twould be marvelous if the world and its moral questions were like some game board, with plain black players and white, and fixed rules, and nary a shade of grey."
The Black Company. Shadows Linger.

"But is the best good enough?"
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Joey
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2011, 06:13:41 PM »

We nee a prescirption against all the banal shit boring-ism out there, what is it bros?
Different writers working over the course of centuries [/Ariosto fanboy Smile ]
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Vince
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2011, 06:44:43 PM »

Indeed. I have the book near me, just waiting for its time after I finish rereading Burroughs' Martian chronicles, and you throw around stories like that, Vince. How could you.
My bad.

I assumed that anyone interested in the books had a chance to read them since the first was released in 96 and the one before last in 2005. The last book doesn't really tell you anything you didn't see coming after reading the previous book (hence the disappointment).
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Gareth
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 05:05:51 AM »

Quote
It's relatively easy to come up with a story fitting the standard format (beginning, middle part, ending/conclusion), but much harder to keep the fire going with "beginning, middle part, middle part, middle part, middle part, middle part...." without boring the reader to death.

This. The problem, I think, is that writers get too attached to their characters or stories. It's like music, you might have a great chorus for your song but that doesn't mean the song is better if you repeat that chorus 500 times.

Story should have a point, a core idea or message to convey. Things should only be added if they serve that. Adding things that don't just dilutes the experience.

If you're going to tell a multi-book epic, it should really be x stories that follow the above principle strung together. Each should be able to stand on its own, IMO. The original Star Wars, while not great literature, is a good example of a 3 part story where each part was also good enough to stand alone as a 3 act story.

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Osiris Khenty-Amenty
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2011, 09:12:35 AM »

Stop using modern fantasy epics as your basis, and go and read the Aeneid. Then go and consider who, why and where, and have your desired end-point planned, and the route your hero(ine) takes to get there by the time you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
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callehe
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2011, 03:06:23 PM »

Stop using modern fantasy epics as your basis, and go and read the Aeneid. Then go and consider who, why and where, and have your desired end-point planned, and the route your hero(ine) takes to get there by the time you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

care to clarify why Aenid is the epitome of goodie?
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Joey
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2011, 04:19:57 PM »

The Aeneid is about half as long as A Game of Thrones, I believe, so it's hardly in the same league of 'long ass storyline' that the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series is.

I think it's only natural that stories can only be so long before they decline, which probably explains why there were so few sequels before they became a good way of earning money.

(Which isn't to say you shouldn't read the Aeneid, mind, it's a good read. Wikisource has the 1697 translation by John Dryden, which is some of the best use of the English language you'll ever see.)
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necrobot
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2011, 07:47:31 AM »

In Russian TV most series are developed like that:
1. Lead writer creates a "Bible", an extensive document where all character arcs, plot lines, world rules and other high level stuff are thoroughly described.
2. Plot writers make up the outlines for individual episodes and submit them to the Lead writer.
3. Dialogue writers deliver the actual screenplays based on the approved outlines.
4. Story editor never writes anything but reads everything by all of the above to check for plot holes and inconsistensies.

I guess, a style editor should be added in case of fiction to ensure the consistent writing style throughout the epic.

Moreover, once the epic becomes popular, a closed beta-tester forum could be set up to let more people review the early drafts for the next installments. As ASoIAF forum shows, the readers can be damn smart and notic just about everything that you put in the books, now matter how subtle you are trying to be.
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Gambler
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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2011, 12:06:45 PM »

Evgeny Lukin once wrote that writing a bad novel is much easier than writing a bad short story, because the readers will always notice that your short story doesn't have a point. This extends well to epics.

The best way to manage complexity is to avoid creating needless complexity in the first place.
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