Amph ~The Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini~ Discussing its literary merits

Discussion in 'Community' started by Coruscant, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

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    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    Thanks, Nat.

    I wanted to add that I think sometimes authors -- and artists in general, like actors and musicians and visual artists, you name it -- have stars in their eyes when looking at their own work. What they think works, what they admire about their work and think is good might not necessarily be that. You always need a second opinion. For example, in the practice room I might think that my performance of a Weber clarinet concertino is perfectly fine, but when my accompanist makes me listen to a recording of my practice session, I realize that it's not quite as good as I thought it was. I might think that a monologue that I've prepared for my theatre class is brilliant, but when I perform it for my teacher, there's numerous things that she needs to point out that could make it better. When I'm writing, I never post anything until I'm happy with it, but I also send it to a beta to get a second opinion. Sometimes I send sections not just to my beta, but to my friends as well to get other opinions on how I'm writing a character, or how I'm developing a certain plot line. It takes someone else to get you out of your fantasy and see "Oh yeah, that doesn't quite work as well as I thought it would." Four years ago, I thought I was an amazing clarinetist. I listen to recordings from that year and I wince (my pitch is slightly sharp and my tonguing slow and heavy? Yeah. I needed to do a hell of a lot more work back then).

    This sort of reminds me of something my highschool drama teacher always tells his students: "Put yourself third." In theatre, he meant this to mean that you have to put others on your team first before yourself. You can't be a diva, otherwise the project fails. You need to take into account others' opinions of your work. It can't all be about you.

    To twist this into writing terms, you, the author, need to put yourself third. The story comes before you do and what you might want to happen in the plot doesn't necessarily work. Just because you dream up some sequence or plot that you really, really just have to write but totally fails doesn't mean that you have to put it in a book. Write it to get it out of your system, then leave it alone. Sometimes the story gets away from you and you have to adapt yourself to fit it, leaving ideas and subplots and scenes behind, even if you really like them. You need to put the value of other people's honest opinions about your work before your own as well. If they're speaking honestly, perhaps you should listen to them and take their opinions into credit. To jump back to a comparison to theatre, as an actor, sometimes I think that something really works well onstage for my character. It's an idea that I've thought long and hard about and it's something I really want to do. But if I watch a video of myself performing, it's not always seen as I'd imagined it would be seen. Sometimes it does really suck and gives the opposite effect of what I was aiming for.

    Something tells me that Paolini doesn't do this. I've read quite a few of his interviews out of interest, and he comes across as more than a bit egotistical. He sounds like he believes he's created an engaging, beautiful piece of work. In his eyes, it probably is like that. It's something he's proud of. But at some point, if you really want to be an artist, you need to step back, take the stars out of your eyes and examine your work as you've presented it. Sometimes it's not as pretty as you've imagined it was.

    I have no idea if that makes sense to anyone but myself with all the jumping between theatre, music and writing, but there you go. 8-}

    edit -- I remembered something else. :p

    I'm in a Dramatic Literature course this year, and one of the things we've looked at -- especially with Greek plays -- is how he tragedies uses what my prof calls "enhanced diction." The flowery language that no one in their right mind speaks with naturally. It's used for a reason in Greek tragedy -- to place the characters above the target audience, as the tragic heroes are always those of a hig
  2. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    If I ever went up to Paolini, the one thing I would say to him is not to write like Tolkien, we want to hear his own voice. So far we have not as it is clear in his writing he has not developed one.

    And like I said earlier, writer's need to fall out of love with their own work. It's the only way they can begin to change.
  3. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    [face_laugh] [:D] Believe it or not, I was actually making comparisons of a book in my lit class to Hamlet today :p

    And I agree. Paolini needs to stop trying to imitate Tolkien and stop being so in love with his own work that he won't change it. That's why ediiotrs are useful.
  4. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    The best advice I can give to writers who are just begining is that you are not your work, therefore someone who criticises your work is not criticising you.

    But a writer's work DOES feel like their child, at times.
  5. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    I do call This Time Around my baby sometimes... :p

    Stupid, ever-growing, baby that gets out of hand. It must behave more often! [face_shame_on_you]

    But excellent point, Katana. There's nothing wrong with a good critique and it's more helpful than anything else you will receive. It will help you grow as a writer; after all, we can only learn so much on your own. Only so many things can be self-taught; we depend on others to lead us the rest of the way.
  6. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    Let's move onto something else for now, the Sueishness of Eragon

    I'll try and find that other article about it as he fits it to a T
  7. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

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    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    I was going to post the link earlier... I found this a couple years ago and laughed my head off. Parodies are brilliant things. :D

    I've read several articles on Eragon's character, I should go look for them. I have several things to say on the subject, but I need to gather my thoughts first, I'm kind of scatterbrained at the moment. :p

    Instead of concentrating on the negatives all the time, I have a question for fans, if there are any in this thread: what draws you to the novels? I personally don't find anything attractive, but why do you read it? Surely there must be something that you like. Just curious. :)
  8. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    [face_laugh]

    I will say that to Paolini's credit, he does try to create an epic fantasy, and I like epic fantasy. That's about it :p

    And yeah, Eragon acts like a Sue.
  9. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    Author insert. I will always remember this comment:

    "What is Eragon's hair colour?"
    "Well... I have brown hair... so brown, I guess."

    Or something to that extent. I can't remember it exactly, so I'm paraphrasing. But you get the point.

    Eragon is lacking in character development. Sure, there's descriptions of "then Eragon did this and this and this", but it's more or less an illusion of character development. If you take out the skills he's gathered (in an absurdly quick time, especially where his sword-fighting skills are concerned), he's still the same guy he was on his uncle's farm.

    Which reminds me...

    WHY A FARM, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE? :_|

    Why couldn't he have been a pickpocket or something more interesting and unusual than a FARMBOY?

    Luke is the sole exception to that rule, by the way. :p
  10. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    [face_laugh] That's because the first one or two farmboys are fine, and then it gets old.

    Ug, I hate that. "A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author." ?G. K. Chesterton
  11. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    There must be something attractive about farms. :p Nothing shouts cliche like a farm in a fantasy world. *sigh*

    Maybe farmboys are all very innocent people who don't know much about the outside world and are usually very whiny? o_O (C'mon, we know Luke did his share of whining in ANH ;) ).

    I'm stealing that quote, Nat, and putting it in my Signatures file. :D


  12. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    A lot of fairy tales have farm boys, remember?
  13. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

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    Feb 5, 2005
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    Hmmm... not any that jump to mind an 1:00 in the morning. They have prince charmings. :p
  14. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2003
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  15. SaintTames Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2008
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    Yeah, he's pretty charming.

    What was your point, though?

    :p

    Tames Was Here
  16. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I thought it applied to the sutiation :p I really like it.
  17. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

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    Feb 5, 2005
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    So, Puss in Boots is a charming farmboy? o_O

    It... sort of applies to the situation. Cliched ideas from fairy tales that are re-used as the set up for characters in fantasy books, maybe? [face_thinking] Such as the classic farm boy? :p
  18. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I meant the quote to Paolini's comment :p
  19. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    Ohhhhh... :oops:

    Stupid Idri Moment of the Day.

    ;)
  20. Coruscant Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2004
    star 6
    Why I'm attracted to the books: they're treasure troves of bad writing and as such help me learn how not to write.
  21. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    Yeah, Corry, they're like watching bad movies and then giving them a bad review.

    I have heard one thing: Brisingr is NOT a ROTJ clone, but that doesn't mean it has a story.

    Has it a story?
  22. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    I've heard it doesn't have a story, just a bunch of Eldest tie-ups. Haven't read it, so can't comment.

    For those who have read it, does Galbatorix finally make an appearance or is he still the mystery villain?
  23. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    The "myserious villain" only works so far and then if you do it well.
  24. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Yes, and no.

    He speaks in the book, but only through Murtagh during a battle. Beyond that, he never actually appears.

    Kimball Kinnison
  25. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    I hate what he did to Murtagh, he's one of the only two characters in the books that I liked, aside from Brom and IIRC refuses to bow down to the uber demigod Eragon.