what is the difference between ....

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deddmann_writing
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what is the difference between ....

Postby deddmann_writing » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:36 pm

I see many sources that say a novel is based on characters, plot, theme, and setting.

I have trouble seeing a difference between theme and plot the way they describe them.
One source had theme equated to premise which sounds like the logline of a very condensed plot.

So what do you see as mandatory items for a good novel. And how would you describe theme, premise, plot, logline, etc. if you include any of those.

If you don't require characters, settings, or plot, then please give an example of a novel without one of those or at least explain how that could be.
If you can't get by without theme then please explain why it is mandatory. Or is a novel a type of Rohrshach test and theme is what the reader thinks they see at a higher level than the actual events in the plot.

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Brien Sz
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby Brien Sz » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:52 pm

I think this is a bit of overthinking.

The question should be... do I have a story to tell? If you do, what will it involve and how? Let the rest of the pieces fall as they may.

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Noizchild
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby Noizchild » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:56 pm

Just go with your gut.
You ask me what I thought about
Before we were lovers.
The answer is easy.
Before I met you
I didn't have anything to think about.

-- From "The Love Poems of Marichiko"

deddmann_writing
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby deddmann_writing » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:01 pm

[quote="Brien Sz"]I think this is a bit of overthinking.

The question should be... do I have a story to tell? If you do, what will it involve and how? Let the rest of the pieces fall as they may.[/quote]
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Agreed. But some of the books make a big deal about theme. I thought they might have a reason for that. But others were more like you note and whatever the story was about was some theme by default. It does seem sort of backwards to worry about theme before the story.

deddmann_writing
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby deddmann_writing » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:02 pm

[quote="Noizchild"]Just go with your gut.[/quote]
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Okay. And I have a big one so that should make the novel a best seller:)

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ostarella
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby ostarella » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:55 pm

This is why I don't like books on writing. They all say you should do this or that or something else entirely, and writers spend their time worrying about doing all this contradictory crap. Just tell a story. Reviewers and discussion groups can discuss and argue about what you really meant, and most of the time they'll be wrong anyway.

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Brien Sz
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby Brien Sz » Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:11 pm

I have nothing against books on writing. If it works for you, use it the best you can. I've picked up a few here and there over the years because something about them caught my eye but I can't recall absorbing anything from them, save for Stephen King's, On Writing. That's a book about writing, but not in any way that delves into theme, plot, etc..,

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ostarella
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby ostarella » Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:25 am

I suppose I should have said I don't like them for new writers, because they inevitably contradict each other. Once one has been writing for a while, and has some idea of what your own strengths and weaknesses are, then sure, reading them for ideas is probably good. I've just seen too many people screwed up because they think a successful author can tell them how to write successfully, when in fact, all these authors can do is tell what worked for them.

deddmann_writing
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby deddmann_writing » Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:58 am

ostarella wrote:
> I suppose I should have said I don't like them for new writers, because
> they inevitably contradict each other. Once one has been writing for a
> while, and has some idea of what your own strengths and weaknesses are,
> then sure, reading them for ideas is probably good. I've just seen too many
> people screwed up because they think a successful author can tell them how
> to write successfully, when in fact, all these authors can do is tell what
> worked for them.
===================

After reading dozens of books and as many web sites about writing, my impression is that they generally agree on the big picture for writing, but they all differ in the details of how to actually do what their books say to do.

One might reasonably conclude that, if something similar worked for so many of those folks who write books on writing, then something similar should have a good chance of working for us too. The devil is, of course, in the details of how to actually instantiate the general advice. And of course personal preference as well as education and experience will influence the choice of what works best for a given writer.

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ostarella
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Re: what is the difference between ....

Postby ostarella » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:09 pm

The big picture would be so huge as to be of little value, things like 'write a good story' or 'know your grammar'. Past those obvious bits of advice, I can't think of much advice that doesn't involve the author's personal preferences/prejudices. Authors write about writing because they're enthusiastic about the way they write, and they want to share that enthusiasm (or they're written by people who haven't written but have read a lot of advice by people who have). Which is fine, until one starts reading words like "need to", "should", "always", "must", "can't" - those are the words of someone who doesn't realize that their advice won't work for everyone. And of course, we're missing the advice of so many writers who have no interest in writing about writing because they're too involved with - well, writing. So it's kinda like those online "Please fill out the survey" - the results are really meaningless because you're only hearing from people motivated to respond, and not from a legitimate cross-section of the population.

So I stand by my advice - write enough so you know what you're good at and what needs work, then look at books/sites and see if you find something that might help. But we really need to quit treating these how-to books as if they were gospel.

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