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Halo Origins: Prologue
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The Hammer

Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 3737
Location: Sierra Hotel.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't sidestep.

Enth Darkness Triumphant wrote:
1) Nothing has ever been written about the governments on Earth before the formation of the UN and still nothing is ever written on the autonomy of the nations that comprise the UN in Halo.

2)Apart from the timeline, which I intend to follow; nothing has ever been written or said about the old Earth politics and what happened until the events of the origins of Harvest and the beginnings of Earths Extra-Sol System travels.

'Onus of proof' or "argument from ignorance" is a logical fallacy: no proof is not counterproof. I don't like seeing people argue or try to defend or justify their actions or views this way, so please don't do it.

3) I can take critique up to but not including someone just flat out telling me at the prologue that my idea is flawed and that it should be torn apart and rebuilt because they disagree with how politics are run in a story.

If I disagreed with you on politics, I would be telling you to write a story where it is against the law to say unfunny things, where the national language is nonsensical gibberish, where skateboarding is enforced by law and where an acceptable form of corporal punishment is a pie in the face, and all legal proceedings or manner of logical legalities are banned by law. Arthur didn't disagree with the political values you imposed on this universe. If he had, he would have called a debate right here and right now, and if it had turned into a pissing match, I would lock it.
He said:

Yet I feel that taking liberties necessitates their being justified within the greater context of both the real world and the Haloverse. I didn't find that here.

The Soviet Union reforming, complete with identicle government structures (the KGB, the Supreme Soviet)? The "American Empire" annexing Canada? China unanimously deciding to launch nukes against a country that can respond in kind? None of it struck me as remotely realistic.

To expand on that, I mentioned that realism does not necessarily mean constraining every element of the story to modern devices, otherwise that would be a waste of time because we wouldn't write fiction. The point of fiction is to trick us into believing that what we see is real and is deep enough to fool us (at least while we're willing.)

He is not imposing his political values on your story. If he was, he would say so and come out. He is saying what you have brought up is unbelievable and doesn't do well for your story as a whole. I'll take that further and put this bluntly - if your setting and background is not believable, you'd be better off starting again with a fresh approach that doesn't tie you down. One of the most important lessons any writer has to learn is to 'kill the baby.' Nothing is sacred, and if your story has soured, and your audience isn't liking it, then tacking more stuff onto it won't change that - here you'll find people are a little more forgiving and willing to accept changes because we all started somewhere. Of course, though, even this community has its limits; you can just look at your comments page for reactions. Given that a good many of them point to the same thing, maybe it's time to swallow your pride and start listening. Assuming the audience will like what you want them to like is not only very arrogant, but it's also a good way to end up without many positive reviews.

Pouring a lot of effort into something that's already soured isn't going to change it. Accept it, save your efforts, and start again with a clean sheet of paper. No, this does not mean your writing sucks. Writing fiction is a matter of trial and error, and experimenting. Having unexpected results is a part of experimentation. Take the experience from it, and apply that to something that doesn't hobble you with old ideas.

4) The four hour history lesson was needed because apparently the comments from my first series was that not enough background was given. I could have gone more in depth but that would have probably pissed more people off and forked off into a completely different direction than I intended. I tried to employ a direct and to the point approach so the story could start.

Then show, don't tell. Instead of telling us flat-out, lecture style, do the storytelling implicitly while writing narration in parallel. Imply your background information when you can. Save the explicit storytelling for what you would like to emphasise. Knowing your audience is probably the first most important thing in starting to write; your audience plays an M-rated game, it's only logical to assume we're all old enough now that we can pick facts and implications out from dialogue and narration, it doesn't need to be presented to us out front.

Sample A - what I call 'spoon feeding the audience.'
Joe and Jack have known each other for eighteen and a half years. They have gone through college together. Jack is suspicious that Joe is trying to steal his girlfriend. Jack is very angry at Joe. Joe is very defensive. Then Jack grabs Joe.

Sample B - dramatization, allowing the audience to glean facts from dialogue.
"I know you're up to something!" Jack snarled, "Don't try to hide it from me!"
"Why? Why are you accusing me of trying to steal Jane away from you? She's your girl, I've told you a thousand times I wouldn't do that!" Joe yelled back, "We've been best pals for what, twenty years now, you know I wouldn't!"
Jack didn't hear a word of it.
"Yeah, and all those twenty years I knew you were always a sneaky type, ever since I saw what happened in second year college!"
Joe felt his face burn with rage. Hot tears welled in his eyes.
"That's a lie! You know it's not tr-- get your hands off me!"

Two samples, both taking an extreme position, and you get relatively the same amount of information. But they are presented in a whole different manner. One sounds like a summary. The other, sounds like dialogue, and also it sounds much more mysterious and open-ended. Whenever you write dialogue, I want you to bring it out right there and make it big; pretend you are writing a movie where on-screen time is very limited and you have to make every minute of film and every line of dialogue from those actors count.

Spoon feeding the audience is very humble; it ensures that no matter what you do, you'll get your information across, with much less ambiguity than implicit storytelling, and it's also a much easier approach to take to writing. But it can also make a story bland and monotonous very quickly, especially if overused or if you try to focus on lots of little details. At the same time, don't go overboard with implicit storytelling - doing so can get very confusing and unless you're very careful and willing to spend a lot of time making sure all the details line up, you could run into some headaches. Providing a nice mix of implicit and explicit storytelling will give you the best of both worlds and allow you to cover each others' shortcomings with the advantages of the other.

Edited for grammar, edit1
SYSTEM | HBOFF Administrator | "Anytime, Baby!"

I apologize to anyone I have not offended yet. I will get to you shortly.

Last edited by SYSTEM on Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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IRC Channel Operator

Joined: 18 Oct 2008
Posts: 204
Location: Nowhere in particular.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. I haven't seen a thread like this in a long time.

Here's the thing: If somebody says, "I don't like your story because xyz," then even if you completely disagree, you should try to accept it. I know that I have a lot of difficulty doing so (as CaptainRaspberry and kr know Razz), but what is important is to try.

If somebody dismisses your story without giving you a chance, then you have a genuine right to be pissed. But from what I can see, Arthur read your whole thing through and gave it a lot of thought.

Also, I personally have had to scrap three separate stories, not to mention two chapters of Bad Days. If you can take a step back, look at your story, and see that you can continue, by all means go ahead. But be careful.
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Joined: 13 Sep 2004
Posts: 957
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I think it takes about a million words to make a writer. I mean that you're going to throw away. "
- Jerry Pournelle, author and journalist
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