The Parthenon: Home for the Intellectual Discussion Welcome TKL and Art_Of_War, new Thread Hosts!!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Souderwan, Oct 1, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. TheCrazyRodian Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2004
    star 4
    Heh. I almost cried when I re-read the JAT this past summer. It just pains me to read such... such... uh, yeah, you understand where I'm going with that.

    But I do want to say one thing kind of quickly about this whole grammar thing. I don't know how many of you have taken a linguistics class or read a linguistics book recently, but I've spent entire semesters so far at college studying how all languages and dialects are equal, and that the rules in our grammar books are insufficient because most of them don't even correspond to the actual English language now. They're prescriptive--meaning they give somewhat arbitrary rules to follow--rather than descriptive--which would be more like a discussion of what is and is not structurally acceptable (at a deeper level than grammar) in various dialects. Plus there's the inescapable fact that our "standard grammar" for English is just a description of standard usage for the dialect of the dominant social group (in the US, middle-class white English; in other places, I don't know).

    I see the truth in a lot of that, but I do know that learning strict rules for writing has helped me a lot in being able to see where they work and where they don't. I also know, on the other hand, that I used to talk like a book and my friends used to punch me (in jest!) whenever they didn't understand a word I said. So I moved to California for college, dropped my proper speech, and now make every sentence a "dude" or "like" sandwich. I've also read some really excellent books that used other dialects of English as the framework for narration (one of my favorites being The Color Midnight Made by Andrew Winer).

    The point is that, in some ways, we're following a pretty arbitrary standard when we follow those grammar rules completely. Language is a flexible thing, so we shouldn't be afraid to use it flexibly. We just need to be faithful to the characters, more than anything.

    I, for one, would be interested to read a story with the narrative voice of an Agamarian hick. If I had any writing talent at all, I'd attempt it, but for now it's going in my long list of plot bunnies should I ever get a call back from an unemployed muse.
  2. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    Unfortunately, I've seen it in the corporate world. Dilbert reigns supreme there.... Remember Jon Stewart...:p I'd say more but I'd be completely off the topic.

    Cliches - really dislike women characters who need to be rescued all the time. And kids who are too cute to live. For heaven's sake, make the kid have some flaws.
  3. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    I've got wireless for now, so...your wish is my command. :D Great topic, GAV! =D= Before I respond to it, though...

    Dude...that was like, absolutely the coolest, most awesome break-down of grammer I've ever read, dude. :p

    On a serious note, I really enjoyed your thoughts on the topic and I didn't want you to think they were ignored because we've moved on to something new.

    I, for one, would be interested to read a story with the narrative voice of an Agamarian hick. If I had any writing talent at all, I'd attempt it, but for now it's going in my long list of plot bunnies should I ever get a call back from an unemployed muse.

    *punch* What the heck is an Agamarian??? I googled it and it's apparently a GFFA thing...:confused:

    On the subject of cliches, for me it boils down to absolutism. Yoda is absolutely good and Palpatine is absolutely evil. You see this in other characters, of course but Yoda and Sidious exemplify it, imo. Yoda doesn't have a bad bone in his body and everything he says is motivated by the light side of the Force (and is therefore good) and Sidious doesn't have a good bone in his body and everything he does is in the interests of evil. The problem is, of course, that the world doesn't work that way. People have motivations, and they're rarely purely in the interests of serving evil or good. I'm writing my current fic purely to put a more realistic dimension on one of these characters. I'll probably write another one to do the same with Palpy.

    I also have a thing against impossible resolutions. As a couple of you have mentioned, things are in aboslutely insurrmountable situations and somehow at the very last second, out of the clear blue, the deux ex machina (sp) kicks in--whether it be heretofore unknown Jedi power, new modification of the falcon, or whatever. I have nothing about last-second heroics, mind you. I just hate when they come in with no foreshadowing. They just come out of nowhere. To me, it's a sign of laziness and I hate that more than anything.
  4. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    That part about the committee drove me crazy. I also hated the idea of this nefarious psychopath going after...Anakin who does nothing but wet his diapers and flash his eyes and saves himself. I hated Terpfen because he was such a melodramatic narcissist at times. I only started reading those because I picked up COTF and found that Luke Skywalker was between life and death and I went "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, cool!" I love Kyp, though.
  5. oqidaun Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    Least favorite cliche?

    Extreme Jedi moodiness that makes the Jedi Order look like the repository of the entire Galaxy's population of clinically depressed/bi-polar people.

    Additionally, I'm with Souderwan in the Anti-Absolutism boat.

  6. Neo-Paladin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2004
    star 4
    I don't always mind the monochrome good and bad in Star Wars. It's Star Wars and Star Wars is myth. In myth, good is good and bad is bad; villains are villainous, and heroes are heroic. When I want to read nuanced realistic characters I read John le Carre (where the resolutions are also realistic and pyrrhic at best). :p

    Within reason of course. I also don't mind when reality intrudes, and good people are trying to do the right thing, but not everyone is certain what that is; meanwhile the bad people are justifying their actions.

    It gets cartoonish after awhile, but when done well the stark simplicity can make for a good framework.
  7. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    LOL, amen. I swear, the authors make the characters have more moodswings than my ex-husband. I like Stover because he has a consistent emotional paradigm for Mace Windu.
  8. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    Oh, I agree with the mythology. In fact, I love that the dark side is evil and the light side is good (although in my writing I like to grey the middle :p). In the movies, this is done with some realism and I like that (although the PT is a little cartoonish at times with the extents GL went to draw the mythologcial archetypes out--read: In appearnace Maul=Devil/QGJ=Jesus). In the books you read, however, the characters are often 2D at best (if not 1D). The great myths have clear divisions between good and evil and have real people struggling with making the right choices. That's the problem I have with so many of the novels I've read. The good guys are infallably good and the bad guys are infallably bad. The sides are (and should be) clearly defined in GFFA and I love that. But what makes the story interesting is making complex and grey choices in a black and white world. I only celebrate Luke's choice on DS2 because I can see yourself being weak enough to make a different choice. And when he makes the right choice, I have no doubt that he's choosing good over evil. Black and white options with grey people making black and white choices--that's what makes the mythology great.
  9. Neo-Paladin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah, but QGU and Maul aren't the worst of the lot. The 'holy fool' of TPM becomes the holy buffoon in the guise of Jar-Jar Binks. I really like the idea of the holy fool, but execution left a little something to be desired I think. Anyway...

    Usually I agree with you about characters needing motivations. In my experience heroes are even worse off than villains, because the only motivation the hero needs for his or her actions is 'good'. Villains typically get enough treatment that you know they are driving towards their goal. If you're lucky you find out why they feel justified in their actions.

    Of course sometimes the plot is compelling enough that characters are just plot devices, and that works. I feel like a hack when I do it, but sometimes I see it in others, and it's great. The villain in 'Much Ado About Nothing' springs to mind. Heck, Palpatine springs to mind. :p
  10. Anakins_Force Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 4
    oqidaun, you mentioned:
    Extreme Jedi moodiness that makes the Jedi Order look like the repository of the entire Galaxy's population of clinically depressed/bi-polar people.


    I'm curious about this because Ishtar mentioned it as well. What books best display this moodiness?
  11. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    Let's see...

    Planet of Twilight

    Champions of the Force

    Vector Prime

    The Crystal Star
  12. Inara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 30, 2005
    star 4
    The Crystal Star


    Did this book have any purpose at all except to torture?
  13. ladylaurel18 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2005
    star 4
    The worst cliche in Star Wars? Superweapons.

    And I don't really know how the Crystal Star ever managed to get published...that book taught me to read a little before spending money on something.
  14. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    That book taught me that angst can really be done stupidly.
  15. Inara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 30, 2005
    star 4
    Another cliche: Everything is resolved perfectly.

    It's something that I am always tempted to do - to write a story where everyone ends up happy, the villain loses, and the forces of light come out on top.

    But sometimes, things don't work out at all, no matter how much you try.

    Don't get me wrong - it's great when everything works out, but it's always easy to forget that a lot of good people lose as well, that after a long day of battling the bad guys, the hero comes home and is faced with consequences - a disappointed parent, a distraught lover, an angry government - and he does not gain forgiveness.

    Say what you will about Denning, but he's done a great job is weaving a story that won't end happy for everybody. No matter what direction Denning takes in TSW, there's going to be a lot of hurt and disillusionment left behind - though I'm sure the Killiks will come out on the losing end (the Jedi have a Grand Master now :eek: ).

  16. TKeira_Lea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2002
    star 5
    Souderwan: *punch* What the heck is an Agamarian??? I googled it and it's apparently a GFFA thing...

    Dude, you need to read the X-wing novels [face_laugh]
  17. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    Of course sometimes the plot is compelling enough that characters are just plot devices, and that works. I feel like a hack when I do it, but sometimes I see it in others, and it's great. The villain in 'Much Ado About Nothing' springs to mind. Heck, Palpatine springs to mind.

    Good choices. But one of my favorite villians is Lady Macbeth. She is strong; she is weak; she has motivations; she has ambitions; she wins; and she loses. Can't help but love her (and hate her).

    In fact, I'd argue that although Shakespeare had his share of cliched characters, his main characters (good and evil) were always well fleshed out.

    Dude, you need to read the X-wing novels

    [face_laugh] Tell me about it! I've got a lot of things I should read. For example, that list of books Ish mentioned? Have read a single one.

    As a matter of fact, that superweapon cliche LL18 mentioned is one of the reasons I don't read these books. I'd pick up the book and check the back and it'd mention the Sun Crusher or the Planet Destroyer or some other such nonsense :rolleyes: and I'd just put it back and pick up a Wolverine comic instead :p.
  18. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    My town used to have a little drop-and-swap place at the town dump and I got like, all of those books there.

    Agamar! Oya!
  19. MsLanna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2005
    star 6
    I totally agree on superwaepons. They suck.
    That's one of the reasons I actually enjoyed reading TG and TCoPL.
    I think superweapons just spare you the effort to creat a good (clever) threat. Things can be quite dramtic even if the galaxy is not about to end.

    other clichè: the uber-jedi. The one who can just do anything. I think such books are rather boring to read since the protagonist does not have to think about any of it. He waves his hand, and woops, things rearrange nicely. Well, if he did so on page one, thing would have been easier on me.

  20. TKeira_Lea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 2002
    star 5
    Personally I don't understand why everyone has a thing against superweapons. They were good enough for George...

    Yes, if used poorly, they can be a bad thing, but George established that that the galaxy's most evil mastermind used them so why wouldn't others follow suit? At the very least, we know they aren't an improbability in the GFFA. I mean we're talking about a galaxy far far away where Jedi can hold up falling ceilings with their thoughts and crash land halved starcruisers with only dragfins and people are going to say superweapons are cliche? If the story remains true to the heart of Star Wars, why should it matter if it has a superweapon?

    (Mind you I am in no way defending all the books with superweapons because some of them were bad - for many reasons. I just don't think the idea should be dismissed summarily.)
  21. oqidaun Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    Moment of confusion...
    Are we supposed to be focusing exclusively on the "professional" EU literature or discussing how these cliches also show up in fanfic?

    Superweapons?
    I like'em, provided they're in the hands of a delightfully totalitarian military regime. Although I do get tired of Coruscant being almost blown up every ten minutes and subsequently refuse to acknowledge the existence of whole Infant of Shaa thing in the Zam Wesell comic.
  22. GrandAdmiralV Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2005
    star 3
    I think we're supposed to be discussing how we avoid this in our own fics, but then a bunch of us decided to unleash our vitriol at the people who've actually gotten paid to perpetrate some of these misdeeds, and it sort of spiraled out of control. :D

    Have to agree on Crystal Star, though. Worst. Book. Ever.

    I hardly ever write about Jedi, but if I do I have taken a vow never to invoke the dreaded "snap-hiss." :eek:

    I think the problem with superweapons is that you have to keep outdoing yourself, and it gets to the point where it's sort of ridiculous. I mean, what's it going to come to? A black hole on a leash?
  23. kateydidnt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2004
    star 4
    [face_laugh] Ok, now I am soooo tempted to write a parody with someone having a black hole on a leash--someone like Q-who would simply be able to remove all those uber-Jedi from the fabric of the time-space continuum.
  24. oqidaun Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    I actually have a black hole on a leash...ok, it's a cocker spaniel, but you've never been in the car with her for more than six hours.
  25. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    I agree that the superweapon shouldn?t be dismissed summarily. I think GAV hit the nail on the head. It's the ever-increasingly spectacular destuctive power of these weapons that I find annoying. I mean, come on! The Death Star could destroy a planet! How do you top that? [face_thinking] How about...a Sun Crusher! Yeah! That works! Now, to top that, we've got to create the Solar System Destroyer. When that's done, we need the Galactic Annhialator. Of course, all these weapons will pale in comparison to the Universe Terminator! [face_eyes_rolling]

    I guess what I have against these machines isn't their existence. My problem is that there?s not a whole lot of creativity in developing the idea of the weapon. I realize that you can't go with yet another Death Star. But why can't they be creative?

    GAV's fic, Dust of the Empire, has a great example of creativity in the search of another superweapon. Instead of some remarkably huge ship, GAV's Empire has set their sights on a potential weapon that would disrupt the nuclear reactions in the sun to produce a deadly stream of neutron radiation, rendering an entire system uninhabitable for decades. That's a bigger, badder weapon, but it's not another huge space-station. Also, she didn't make the weapon something that was already built but a dream that the Empire is pursuing. That's imminently more interesting, imo as all sides are chasing the same thing but with differing motivations--the Empire to destroy the Alliance and the Alliance to stop the Empire before it's too late (and she's thrown in another group or two for good measure ;) ). That's avoiding the cliché. (Well done, GAV).

    That's really the topic, isn't it after all? Yes, the super-weapon can be cliché. Everything can be cliché if improperly done. When I write a Sith Lord, I dread making him impossibly evil without any clear motivations. I'm careful to make him/her interesting. If he's not interesting, then what's the point? (I'm not sure how successful I've been, mind you, but I am mindful of it which is something, I guess :p).

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.