Lit Writing Quality in EU

Discussion in 'Literature' started by windu4, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. windu4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2008
    star 4
    Overall how would you rate the writing quality in the EU? I don't necessarily mean the storylines or the plots or even the characters. I mean moreso the style of writing, the use of analogies and things of that nature. I feel like the quality of writing in the EU advances through time. During the Bantam Era I've felt like many of the authors (even Zahn fell into these trappings at times) were stuck in the 90s frame of Sci-Fi writing. Which I've always found to be a little cheesy and cliched. I can't necessarily blame them for this since the stories were written in the 90s.

    Yet as time passed I've always felt like the writing quality has increased while the plots have become somewhat more watered down and unoriginal.

    Yet when it comes down to it the one thing that has always both interested me and annoyed me about Star Wars are the analogies. I've always got the feelings that the books are written as if they are for people in the Star Wars universe. Every single author uses analogies that are in-galaxy that we could never understand. Such as comparing a character to an "overripe Ithorian starfruit" or something along those lines. I thought it was amusing at first but the more I read these types of things the more it annoys me. The analogies are cool and they drew me into the story and Star Wars universe but the purpose of analogies are to make you understand something by comparing it to something you already know or understand....not comparing it to something you've never heard of.
  2. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Well Stover is sublime, and Steward is phenomenal.

    See, I don't feel that the quality of writing has increased at the expense of the plotting. If anything, for example, Denning's prose is about as impressive as his plotting, and the same to Karpyshyn, whereas Stover managed to incorporate utterly mind-blowing prose with tight plotting and philosophical themes that had a direct impact upon the narrative in all of his SW novels.

    And I think the effect of campy writing varies from author to author. When you read Smith or Daley or LSATSOM by Stover, for example, the campy writing works really well because it's either A) a product of that era, or B) an intentional homage to that era, and it's quite endearing and surprisingly effective at making you care for the characters. Karpyshyn's prose, on the other hand, is simplistic to the point of being insulting (And I'm going to avoid canon discussions for this). Similarly, Denning's prose isn't exactly phenomenal- his action scenes are just a blur of gruesome injuries with little direction- we still don't know which arm Jacen lost in Invincible, for example. Whereas Stackpole doesn't have complicated prose by any means, but it works well within his milieu, and Zahn's takes on a bit of a military/hard-sci-fi feel/
  3. JediMasterKeno Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2000
    star 1
    Sometimes I still think the creators of the Tales of Bounty Hunters and Tales From Mos Eisley they were really drunk or high as a kite and just came up with the most stupid crap especially with IG-88
  4. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Well. it says a lot that KJA actually dictated his writings, including The Tale of IG-88. He had to say this stuff out loud and decide that it was good.
    V-2 likes this.
  5. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Which is weird, as reading your work aloud is the best way to find mistakes. If it sounds awkward, it definitely reads awkward. And dictation isn't the best way to write, as people don't speak in complete sentences. Writing forces you to stop and think; dictation does not. I've taken dictation, and as I was typing, I would be cleaning up tortured prose and poor grammar. The end result of the typing would bear little resemblance to what was said. The ideas and context would be there, but the beat and flow would be much, much smoother.
  6. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    I dunno, not great but good enough would be my answer. Like everyone I like some authors better than others. Some are long gone, some are still kicking around.

    I would expect more from the books if it wasn't Star Wars. But I'm willing to let a lot slide because it is.
    Jedi Ben and RC-1991 like this.
  7. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2012
    star 3
    I'm reading Clockwork Angels right now, and aside from forced lyrics from the album I'm not reading anything particularly dumb sounding. So I'm guessing KJA start writing normally a while ago. Or this is Neil Peart's editing at work. Either way I'm not seeing what annoyed Star Wars fans with this book.
  8. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    See, occasionally KJA strikes gold. Redemption was fantastic in every manner possible, to the point that it's hard to believe that this is the same guy who wrote Darksaber.
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  9. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    The main thing I've noticed with KJA's prose is it's sometimes rambling, and it sometimes circles in on itself. For example, this bit from the Jedi Academy Trilogy:

    So, the ship hit the Manticore, but just before it hit it, it vaporized. So, the ship didn't hit it. But it did. But it didn't because it blew up. But it hit it, but it blew up before it hit it, so it didn't hit it.
    V-2, MarasFire, cdgodin and 6 others like this.
  10. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    I just read Traitor for the first time, and this was my thought too, though it wasn't that these things were unknown to me - the context would often make them clear anyway - but that the overspecificity can shrink the universe. I liked the writing, the philosophy, the imagery... but the analogies were a bit too self-referential. If something is like the shifting desert sand, it can just be like shifting desert sand. It doesn't have to be from Socorro (or worse, Tatooine). I think the vague references are actually more evocative. If the specifics of said sand mattered, or if such analogies were sparsely used, it would be different. But it normally reads as something that's injected just to poke you in the ribs and say, "this is Star Wars, eh? Remember?".
    Last edited by Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn, Jan 11, 2013
  11. FatSmel Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 2012
    star 3
    I honestly can't read KJA books.

    Last time i tried with the Jedi Academy Trilogy it was an epic struggle, and i barely got half way through.
  12. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2012
    star 3
    From what I'm reading now he (KJA) tends to describe events in a "this thing happens, then this thing happens, then another thing happens" fashion without a whole lot of melding between the character and what the character observes. I'm seeing a bit of the redundancies too.

    Would that be accurate to describe his writing. Cuz, I wanna pick up his Star Wars books at the thrift store to see what the hubbub is about.
    Last edited by Landostrip, Jan 11, 2013
  13. cthugha Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2010
    star 3
    Am I the only one around here who really, really likes The Tale of IG-88 and thinks it's one of the best pieces of the EU?
  14. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Personally, I don't mind KJA. I enjoyed Therefore I Am, though when I reread it, I notice his writing quirks more. His prose simply needs polishing.
  15. Ulicus Lit'ari

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    Like flipping burgers.
  16. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    Lol I always wonder what went through the minds of the writer of the Fett story. Journey Man Jastor Mareel!!!! Now I know it was written before the prequels but even then the story arch makes no sense, apparently he hates criminals and crime. So he goes to work for Jabba the Hutt a crime Lord!!!

    As for Tales from Mos Eisley is that the one where there is the story of the Tonnika sisters, but are not really the Tonnika sisters but sexy Warrior women (were they given tight fitting leather catsuits I can't remember but they used every other cliche in the book) who take out a whole Imperial base who hired them but then for some reason not defined decided to kill them (why bother even hiring them in the first place!) before they stole plans for the death star even though those plans had already been stolen. You see where I am going with this.

    While KJA is terrible so is Stackpole's writing, yet he gets a pass. "Corran winked at Mirax, Mirax smiled and winked back, Wedge came in and winked at both of them and said we have no use for the odds"
    Last edited by fett 4, Jan 12, 2013
  17. Zorrixor Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 6
    ;)
  18. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    This is my take as well. KJA is junior level - and not one I'd recommend even for teens. MacBrida Allen was terrible, so was Wolvertone. Gotta agree with @fett 4 when comes to Stackpole - and Zahn's got a terrible lot mannerism in his language too. But Stackpole and Zahn can weave together a plot that you gotta follow, they get us engaged in the characters and they both have a knack for great scenes - so they both get a pass.

    The more recent stories are in general better in structure and language; I've read every single LOTF and FOTJ novel straight through and can't remember any place where I've stumbled on the language.

    And Stover is of course in a league of his own.

    I still love them. That's part of the SW feeling to me. I can get annoyed if the writers fall to out-of-universe analogies.
  19. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    Language was not the problem with those.... [face_sigh]

    Some are better written then others, all a taste thing, plus style isent the only thing that makes it enjoyable.

    I personal still think that Traviss actually has one of the best writing styles of all SW authors, but sadly she just went insane, whilst I don’t really like Dennings style but tend to like the stuff he writes.

    Though on average SW writing seems to still be better than usual for movie tie-in fiction.
    kataja likes this.
  20. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    Exactly. I loved reading Traviss - she's a darned good writer - but after closing the book I just sat back with questions and frustrations.
    Gorefiend likes this.
  21. _Catherine_ Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    You must have gotten confused by Jude Watson ripping off the title for one of her stories, because the one in TotBH is one of the best written stories in the EU. Also LOL @ the implication of AOTC being a better backstory.
    TrakNar likes this.
  22. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Totally agreed on that last. Ever read the old Aliens novels? Ooof :p
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  23. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    My wall still has a dent from when my flatmate threw Sacrifice against it... [face_plain]

    Nep, not an Aliens fan (only ever seen the First, Predator and Resurrection). Star Trek novels though tend to be almost painfully bad (supposedly they have gotten better just can’t get myself to care anymore to check), comic book adaptation novels (yeah they exist for some reason), Sea Quest (though granted only the first season was actually good anyhow) and various films and other series that I somewhat liked all seem to have spawned generally terrible novels.
    kataja likes this.
  24. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, the Aliens novels are basically soft-core porn stars fighting giant insects in outer space. The Steve Perry ones were alright; after that they just went straight downhill.
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  25. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    You get no argument from me there, Clones backstory for Boba was awful but two bad back stories don't make a right. Though it has been awhile since I read em
    I did like the Fett tale from Jabbas palace where he is in the Sarlaac.
    Last edited by fett 4, Jan 12, 2013