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Holiday Reading Challenge take2

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For the first holiday reading challenge explanation and recommendation, see THIS THREAD. Basically the idea is that everyone should take the time over the upcoming holiday break to read one nonfiction theory book relevant to game writing and then post telling the rest of the forum members what the book had to say. If you have a topic area you want to read about, ask here for recommendations. I can recommend books about literary or linguistic theory, and other forum members can probably recommend books about other related areas. Have fun expanding your minds!

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lol.. i must be a real idiot. I allways wanted to get some writing skills and did not even think about reading a book on it.

actually i think your idea is very good and i'll try to find my time and a book on the topic(three weeks -chrismas -one week snowboarding).

[btw]did the last years challange bring any results (gimme links )

[edit1]
lol... i finally found out why there where that few topics shown.
did not expect the time settings to be in the upper right corner

[edited by - BB-Pest on December 3, 2002 1:56:52 PM]

[edit2]

i found a book i could talk about... its actually not really related to wrinting a plot but it could be helpfull designing cities for rpgs etc and make them really fascinating and involving for the player:

Italo Calvino - Invisible Cities

the information i want to get out of this book is what a city actually is (the whole thing is more then the sum of each part) and what makes a game-city making the player feeling home, stunned by the visual impressions and remembering it for the whole life wishing to return there someday.
here's a short example out of the book:




Cities & Desire 2

At the end of three days, moving southward, you come upon Anastasia, a city with concentric canals watering it and kites flying over it. I should now list the wares that can profitably be bought here: agate, onyx, chrysoprase, and other varieties of chalcedony; I should praise the flesh of the golden pheasant cooked here over fires of seasoned chery wood and sprinkled with much sweet marjoram; and tell of the women I have seen bathing in the pool of a garden and who sometimes - it is said - invite the stranger to disrobe with them and chase them in the water. But with all this, I would not be telling you the city's true essence; for while the description of Anastasia awakens desires one at a time only to force you to stifle them, when you are in the heart of Anastasia one morning your desires waken all at once and surround you. The city appears to you as a whole where no desire is lost and of which you are a part, and since it enjoys everything you do not enjoy, you can do nothing but inhabit this desire and be content. Such is the power, sometimes called malignant, sometimes benign, that Anastasia, the treacherous city, possesses; if for eight hours a day you work as a cutter of agate, onyx, chrysoprase, your labor which gives form to desire takes from desire its form, and you believe you are enjoying Anastasia wholly when you are only its slave.


[edited by - BB-Pest on December 4, 2002 7:03:36 AM]

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will do, sunandshadow. im only in high school, but in a college course - i checked out a book for the lit&comp course. its writings for writers. its really just a collection of stories, speeches, etc, that are about writing, or exemplify rhetoric and specific literary skills.

im not going to read the whole thing this week of course, but ill certainly post here about the stories and suggestions i get.

unfortunately, this topic doesnt seem like it will be getting a lot of replies... my rhetoric topic failed miserably. thats really why i got the book, anyways. not a whole lot of people here seem to have much interest or skill in writing or actual design. mainly a lot of good ideas and even plots, but without character depth and dialogue to back it up...

to bb-pest
love the selection. can get some ideas from that for sure.

some good fiction books that are examples of the kind of writing and plot that i look for are ones by alan dean foster. the dig, the last starfighter, dark star, etc, etc. you might read the first chapters of them for their specific techniques. codgerspace and greenthieves specifically have interesting openings worth taking a look at.

be back soon!


-geo
r e d e y e g a m e s

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quote:
Original post by redeyegames
will do, sunandshadow. im only in high school, but in a college course - i checked out a book for the lit&comp course. its writings for writers. its really just a collection of stories, speeches, etc, that are about writing, or exemplify rhetoric and specific literary skills.

im not going to read the whole thing this week of course, but ill certainly post here about the stories and suggestions i get.



Good for you.

quote:

unfortunately, this topic doesnt seem like it will be getting a lot of replies... my rhetoric topic failed miserably. thats really why i got the book, anyways. not a whole lot of people here seem to have much interest or skill in writing or actual design. mainly a lot of good ideas and even plots, but without character depth and dialogue to back it up...



Hmm. Well, I have seen members of this forum post beautiful writing samples and have good discussions of writing technique in the past. Have you tried reading through the forum archive? It''s not too large, and I delete the crap posts and flame threads, so what''s left is generally good reading. Go easy on the college students who are suffering through finals and don''t have time to post these couple of weeks. You certainly shouldn''t assume that people don''t have skill just because they don''t post much. Writers who post here have a large range or fictional ideals - I like psychological drama, romance, and more literary science fiction like C. J. Cherryh, while some others adore Forgotten Realms, Stephen King, Douglas Adams... We often can''t find a lot of common ground about what or how we want to write, so people don''t discuss that much.

I myself will certainly read something for this challenge, but I haven''t decided what yet. I have to finish my stack of library books on the meaning and importance of liberty first.

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quote:
Original post by redeyegames
some good fiction books that are examples of the kind of writing and plot that i look for are ones by alan dean foster. the dig, the last starfighter, dark star, etc, etc. you might read the first chapters of them for their specific techniques. codgerspace and greenthieves specifically have interesting openings worth taking a look at.



yeah... i know allan dean foster. his books have allways a very detailled location design. i might give them another try just to see how he does this
(isnt he the guy who wrote the story for ''alien'' btw?)

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bb - yeah, he wrote alien.

lol, s&s, i didnt mean people here dont have the skill, but that very few have read this topic!

i didnt even think about the archive. there really is a bunch of good stuff. and thanks for deleting the rest!


-geo
r e d e y e g a m e s

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quote:
Original post by redeyegames
lol, s&s, i didnt mean people here dont have the skill, but that very few have read this topic!



Oh, oops. (blush) Nevermind then... lol


Hmm, since you guys are going to talk about Foster I suppose I should give my opinion of him. He''s not one of my favorite authors, but he''s fairly good. I like his series The Damned in particular.

Have you guys ever read any C. J. Cherryh? Now _she_''s a writer worth imitating, especially her masterwork Cyteen. IMO that book''s only technical flaw is that the ending was incomplete and improperly done. If you wanted to look at pure beauty of writing style I would recommend J. G. Ballard and Paul Park. For comic excellence I would recommend _Good Omens_ by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.


Hmm, now I think I''ll permit myself to riff on the topic of fanfiction for a while. Sometimes I think I''m the only literary theorist who takes fanfic seriously, but it''s a wonderful tool for studying how to write fiction. In no other arena can you take the same characters, the same worldbuilding, and a handful of plot variants and see what thousands of different authors did with them! Where else can you find out what the same story looks like when one author has twisted it into a romance, another into a comedy, and a third into a tragedy? Not to mention that all your research material is freely available on the web, you don''t have to hunt it down at a used book store or even borrow it from the library. AND you can email the author and ask them questions about their writing, something it''s darn hard to do with professional writers.

Anyway, my point was that if anyone reads fanfiction in a fandom I''m familiar with (e.g. Fushigi Yuugi, Ranma 1/2, Harry Potter, Petshop of Horrors, Utena, Sorceror Hunters, etc., I''d be happy to recommend or discuss how different pieces of fanfiction demonstrate different elements of great writing.

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
For comic excellence I would recommend _Good Omens_ by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.


Brilliant book. Pratchett on his own can get a little... tacky (especially in a book that length), but Gaiman balances him out very well. IMHO, at least.

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s&s : I''d love to recommend "L''Art de la Bande Dessinee", by Pierre Duc (IIRC), but as you can see, it''s in French. It''s a massive two volumes writing on comic books. It tackles everything from the actual writing to plots, camera angles, colours, styles of comics (not manga though, it was before manga became popular in France), etc. Anyway

Apart from that, I dont remember noticing this thread before, I''ll to see if I can find a book. I love reading books for no reason and end up finding a jewel Would "The hero with a thousand faces" qualify ? ''coz I wanted to read that one for bloody ages.

Oh, and s&s, I''d love it if you explained somewhere what you mean by fanfiction. There is something I just dont seem to grasp about it. I mean, what is the point of writing about a character that everybody already has an idea about ? I think the word I associate for it would be something between "impolite", "innapropriate" and possibly "groupie" (well, fanatic...)
But you seem to be so much into it, I''d love to see how you can present it under a different light...



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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quote:
Original post by ahw

Would "The hero with a thousand faces" qualify ? ''coz I wanted to read that one for bloody ages.



Yes, that book would certainly qualify for the challenge.

quote:

Oh, and s&s, I''d love it if you explained somewhere what you mean by fanfiction. There is something I just dont seem to grasp about it. I mean, what is the point of writing about a character that everybody already has an idea about ? I think the word I associate for it would be something between "impolite", "innapropriate" and possibly "groupie" (well, fanatic...)
But you seem to be so much into it, I''d love to see how you can present it under a different light...



Sigh, I typed up a reply to this once, but the posting script somehow managed to eat it. :/ Well, I''ll try again.

Often a fanwriter will choose some secondary character or worldbuilding detail that the original writer did not fully explain, and the fanwriter will try to answer their own and others'' questions about the secondary element. This also happens when the original author does not tie up all the loose ends of their plot; the fanwriter will attempt to satisfy their need for resolution by resolving unrequited love, love triangles, offscreen or too-sudden character deaths, etc. It is a fact that original fictions with mysterious characters and plots with lots of loose ends are the most popularly written about by fans. So, the first benefit of writing fanfiction is that it satisfies the fans'' sense that something was neglected in the original.

For example, I am currently writing a Fushigi Yuugi fanfiction called _Facepaint_, which centers around an original character of my own, and the Fushigi Yuugi character Tomo, who gets little screen time and most of the mysteries about his eccentric costume, history, and motivations are not answered in FY cannon. This is also a case of too-sudden character death; Tomo finally gets to be a focus character for two anime episodes, then he gets killed off. >_< Now, this wouldn''t bother me except that Tomo is a fascinating character with lots of potential that Watase Yuu (the mangaka of FY) never tapped. I am drawn to his character archetype: the person with low self-esteem because he doesn''t like some aspect of himself, who valiantly tries to be proud of his accomplishments/abilities, and defends himself with a mask of haughtiness and sarcasm. I''m not sure why I''m so mesmerized by this archetype, but I feel the need to write about a character like this, so naturally I also want to study characters like this to prepare me to write well about them.

I have so far identified 3 examples of this archetype: Tomo from Fushigi Yuugi, Saionji from Utena, and Snape from Harry Potter. So I proceeded to read all the available fanfic about these characters, noting which fanauthors'' versions I liked and what these had in common so I could put those traits into the original character of this type I plan to create. So the second benefit of fanfiction is as a place to do research on which small variations of character or plot or worldbuilding I should choose to write about. I wouldn''t have been able to describe The Tomo/Saionji/Snape archetype to you so succinctly if I hadn''t been able to study how different fanwriters had described/implemented various versions of these characters.

Now, I''m writing _Facepaint_ as kind of a test run to see how my favorite version of Tomo works out with the archetype I picked to play opposite him. Perhaps you''ve heard of the concept of a programming sandbox, in which programs can be tested without having to be completely done and ready to direct all the computer''s resources? Fanfiction is just like this; I can concentrate on my two characters and the plot, and not worry about the worldbuilding or secondary characters because they''re all created already. It''s very helpful to be able to do this because I''m already good at creating worldbuilding but I really need to practice my plotting. When I''m not distracted by juggling creating the worldbuilding and too many little details at the same time, I can focus on creating deep, 3-d, appealing characters that I will then be able to write my own original fiction about. So the third benefit of fanfiction is as a test bed.

Now I would like to comment that _Facepaint_ and the average fanfiction, don''t borrow as much from the cannon fiction as you might think, because their focuses are different. Where FY focuses on the ''good guys'', the Suzaku seishi, _Facepaint_ focuses on the ''bad guys'', the Seiryuu seishi. Whenever I want to talk about one of the characters'' philosophy or motivation I have to make it up almost out of whole cloth, because Mrs. Yuu never explained why the Seiryuus did what they did. All of my dialogue is original because Mrs. Yuu never had her characters talk about ''what is love?'', ''BDSM and collaring'', ''how little elements of human beauty are echoed in the beauty of a curvy vase or a string of pearls'', etc. Some of the original content I generate in the process of writing my fanfic will then be available as raw material for me to cobble an original piece of fiction together out of. So, the fourth benefit of fanfiction is like a sketch pad, a place to spin out ideas that can be harvested later, and the chaff ideas threashed out in the process.

Don''t get me wrong, I do and have written reams of original fiction; I just like fanfiction as a crucible for developing my ideas before I try to incorporate them in a serious novel-length project, especially one that other people will have to work with because the story is my contribution to a graphic novel or game design.

Does that answer your question?

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Or maybe that''s just where you fit on the geek hierarchy.



From the Brunching Shuttlecocks website (not my creation).

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
[quote]Original post by ahw

Would "The hero with a thousand faces" qualify ? ''coz I wanted to read that one for bloody ages.



Yes, that book would certainly qualify for the challenge.

quote:

Does that answer your question?


It certainly does At least, I can see where you come from and respect your opinion.
I just still have something against the whole principle...
It''s like writing fan fiction in the Middle Earth : beside the fact that the Tolkien foundation would most certainly haunt your ass for copyright and whatnot, I feel there would be something wrong in taking over someone else work of art (if I respect it that much, then I certainly consider it art).
If I like a painting, I am not gonna try to repaint it but changing the colours, adding a few bits here and there. Then again, the painting might inspire me for a different work that I would do.
Mmmh, I guess it''s hard to draw a line... After all, how many times did I wish there would be more explanation on some hinted at event. I think one of the games that did that the most for me was Legend of the Five Rings, originally a CCG (card game). The writers managed to evoke such a vast world of intrigue and adventure, filled with creatures and characters full of background. And then, lo and behold! they created a roleplaying game out of it. Oh the happiness
I suppose in a sense, when Farscape ends soon; there will be a vast gap in my sci-fi landscape, that maybe will be filled by some fan fiction ?

But the artistic demarch still vastly conflicts with the ... shall I say spectator demarch (after all, fan fiction is based mostly on the unfulfilled needs of a spectator that suddenly decides to take control. A bit like a dreamer suddenly taking control of his dream : there is something intrisically disturbing about the concept)

Anyway I am sure I had more interesting things to say on the topic, but I have to reboot


Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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