A Place of Safety
I expect simple behaviours here. Friendship, and love.
Any advice should be from the perspective of the person asking, not the person giving!
We have had to make new membership moderated to combat the huge number of spammers who register
















You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > Literary Merit > Difficult reading further?
Difficult reading further?  [message #77683] Sat, 27 March 2021 01:23 Go to next message
Teddy is currently offline  Teddy

Really getting into it
Location: USA
Registered: October 2006
Messages: 466



Am I alone in this or are there others of you out there who at times grind to a halt reading a story, not because it is a bad story but because the main character seems about to do something really stupid such as implode his relationship by sleeping with someone else, or it seems that something very heartbreaking is about rip him from the arms of his lover and you just can't handle what you know is going to happen?

I've gone so far on one occasion to write a well established author here whom I have a great deal of respect for, not to complain, but to tell them I'm having difficulty continuing to read the story due to a certain event therein, and asking if they're willing to give me a hint that everything works out in the end. The author was very gracious and replied that yes, he was certain that in the end I would be pleased with the outcome. 

This is me over the last half dozen years. I never used to be that way but now I am. I guess I've gone soft or something. 

Be that as it may, please continue to write your stories as your muse reveals them to you. I'll survive! Just don't kill off the heroes in the last three paragraphs or I'll haunt you for life!
blob:http://forum.iomfats.org/a57bdda5-30ee-424e-b583-82454c6f8669

 



“There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.” - Terry Pratchett
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77684 is a reply to message #77683] Sat, 27 March 2021 06:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Talo Segura is currently offline  Talo Segura

Likes it here
Location: Europe
Registered: July 2019
Messages: 103



Only rarely do I stop reading a book that I am halfway through and it isn't because of the storyline or plot, it is repeated unnecessary graphic sex. Still in one case I continued to the end despite the repeated sex scenes, but didn't bother with the sequel. I cannot understand why authors want to put in graphic sex except maybe one scene or two, if pertinent. It's a hang over legacy that should stay on dedicated sites (nifty). It is a shame you can't get away from it (even in the competitions), it devalues the literary merit, and it causes me to stop reading, because it's simply, too much!
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77685 is a reply to message #77684] Sat, 27 March 2021 13:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1541



"Talo Segura wrote on Sat, 27 March 2021 06:57"
 I cannot understand why authors want to put in graphic sex except maybe one scene or two, if pertinent.


--
My attitude is pretty much that authors should treat sex the same way as they treat meals - it's not necessary to describe each occasion in clinical detail, though the occasional exceptional event may merit it. Otherwise, it's enough to occasionally mention that it happened!

However, extensive and repetitive (and IMO usually boring) descriptions of sex are easy enough to rapidly scroll past. I'm rather with Teddy, though, on stories where the (necessary) conflicts come from one of the main characters acting in a way that seems calculated to destroy a relationship that we as readers have emotionally invested in. Unless there's been a lot of groundwork showing that character's flaws and inner tensions, I do find it difficult to handle ... and with some authors in "other places" there's a sneaking suspicion that it's merely something they've done because they fear the storyline is becoming boring and they're desperate to spice it up.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77686 is a reply to message #77683] Sat, 27 March 2021 18:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
luvtwinks is currently offline  luvtwinks

Likes it here

Registered: August 2018
Messages: 151



I almost stopped reading a story two or three years ago because there were a series of chapters that depicted a graphically violent and exceptionally cruel scenario. It was very upsetting to read and I was often in tears but I pushed through it. I absolutely had to see what happened to the character. 

[Updated on: Sat, 27 March 2021 18:29]

Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77687 is a reply to message #77683] Sat, 27 March 2021 22:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13585



I tend only to stop when the author has reached the end but has not yet realised it. I've followed a number of great serials where the author has forgotten to stop. I find I have the ability that they do not. I stop reading before they stop writing.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77690 is a reply to message #77687] Mon, 29 March 2021 14:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Biff Spork is currently offline  Biff Spork

Getting started
Location: Northwest Pacific
Registered: March 2021
Messages: 9



You raise an interesting and fundamental question about conflict as a necessary structural element in art. I remember studying theatre when young and being told that conflict is basic to drama. No conflict means no drama and your audience goes to sleep. I pretty much accepted that as self-evident seeing as all the films, books and plays I knew exemplified this. It could also be argued that conflict is not only necessary in art but in society in general. Capitalism is ideally based on competition which is another form of conflict. All our sports are simply ritualized forms of conflict. Even our interpretation of our environment is based on necessary conflict - survival of the fittest being the core of evolutionary theory.

I began to consider the problem when I realized that in my writing my characters were pretty short on angst and any conflict was little more than distant thunder beyond the horizon, a storm that never materialized though it added a little tension. I kept thinking I should add some troubles to my idyllic stories and I still feel guilty when I write a chapter where everybody is happy and has a good time. One IOMFATS author whom I admire characterizes such stories as 'vignettes'. I like this because it describes a slice of life event with no necessary conflict, no warring forces clashing and a resultant victory and loss. Instead of "We went to the beach and Bobby got caught in a rip tide and Fred, who can't swim, jumped in to save him and had his leg torn off by a shark but still managed to pull Bobby ashore to tell him he was breaking up with him", we can have, "We went to the beach and Bobby and Fred did some funny things and ended up in each other's arms, and legs, and everybody laughed and hugged them in the sunshine." I like the latter but I can't escape the feeling that when there's no conflict, there's no catharsis, no release of tension, even though that tension is artificially generated.

The distaste for conflict may be an aspect of aging. I find I too have a tendency not to finish films and books as I  move through my seventh decade. Often the conflict resolution is emotionally draining or boring rather than cathartic. It almost feels like one punches the catharsis button only so many times in life before it wears out and instead of a sigh of relief there is only a cringe or a yawn. Oh well, one advantage in stopping before the end is that you save time.



Consider becoming vegan. It's good for your health. It's kind and respectful to other animals. It's a good way to make an individual gesture towards averting the climate crisis. It's easy - if a lazy degenerate like me can do it, anyone can.
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77691 is a reply to message #77690] Mon, 29 March 2021 17:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1541



"Biff Spork wrote on Mon, 29 March 2021 15:29"
You raise an interesting and fundamental question about conflict as a necessary structural element in art. I remember studying theatre when young and being told that conflict is basic to drama. No conflict means no drama and your audience goes to sleep.


--
The older I get, the less I believe this to be true! It certainly isn't in poetry, and isn't necessarily in books. In commerical films, it does seem to be (less so in "Art House" movies), but that may be as much a reflection of where major producers are prepared to put their cash as it is of anything else.

I think it's perfectly possible to have other drivers that keep an audience engaged. An unfolding sense of exploration is probably one that especially appeals to me, and for this reason I read quite a lot of historic "countryside" novels, though indeed many such are barely-disguised novelisations of autobiographical experience. And in the decade or so that I worked in a Theatre specialising in new writing and new writers, I frequently got depressed by plays that seemed to introduce conflicts because it was kinda expected, rather than because it arose organically from the characters and situations.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77700 is a reply to message #77690] Thu, 01 April 2021 03:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Teddy is currently offline  Teddy

Really getting into it
Location: USA
Registered: October 2006
Messages: 466



"Biff Spork wrote on Mon, 29 March 2021 07:29"
You raise an interesting and fundamental question about conflict as a necessary structural element in art. I remember studying theatre when young and being told that conflict is basic to drama. No conflict means no drama and your audience goes to sleep. I pretty much accepted that as self-evident seeing as all the films, books and plays I knew exemplified this. It could also be argued that conflict is not only necessary in art but in society in general. Capitalism is ideally based on competition which is another form of conflict. All our sports are simply ritualized forms of conflict. Even our interpretation of our environment is based on necessary conflict - survival of the fittest being the core of evolutionary theory.

--
I've no problem with the conflict but I do prefer a redemptive resolution. I tend to think some authors deliberately destroy something beautiful that he's spent time getting his readers emotionally invested in simply because he likes doing so, and for no other logical or redemptive reason.

I remember years ago there was an author who as I recall had his own site who developed his characters in one particular series of books over several years. The story took place in San Francisco with one of the main characters with the name of Tony. I do not recall the other characters names but do recall that authors on a couple of other sites wrote his characters into their stories and he did the same with theirs in his. So about three books into the story and about three chapters from the conslusion he destroyed the relationship between his two main characters with the Tony character being the idiot who did it. Later I found out from one of the other authors who had contributed his characters to the larger tale that the guy had done it all purposely just to yank people's chains because he could. I've run into other situations like that but didn't have an inside story as to why it was done and can only assume that it must have been somehing similar.

I think this is one of the reasons I'm somewhat gun shy when a story seems to be falling apart with no discernable redemptive resolution on the horizon. I guess to my way of thinking there are ways to at least partially mollify the reader withtout giving away the unfolding plot. I think a good author can skillfully do that and still give the reader the full experience of the unfolding conflict.



“There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.” - Terry Pratchett
icon12.gif Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77715 is a reply to message #77683] Mon, 05 April 2021 13:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean E is currently offline  Sean E

Getting started
Location: USA
Registered: September 2018
Messages: 13



What is a story without conflict, passion or purpose? I ask this, regardless of whether it is classified in any genre, really. If you create a series of one or more characters, and build a tale around them - there has to be a goal. Like Tim suggested, some authors seem to miss the point, and just ramble on and on, regardless - never finding an end (at least not yet). To me, the story has to have something to give it substance, perhaps to build a theme around. Such as in my original question here: conflict? These are the struggles one encounters from some beginning, reaching toward some recovery or dialect of aftermath; passion? That is the authors purpose to embark on a tale he/she believes in, and it shows by how well they do their job; and purpose? Why write the tale at all, really, unless your pursuing some goal - either personally, or for the betterment of the characters you create.

I have always stated I am a beginner - a wanna-be, in such terms. I do not have an education, I have not been taught (other than the little tidbits I pick up from some of you guys or other authors), nor do I have any extensive experience in this vein of work. Why do I do it? I just like to, its as simple as that. But, as another person mentioned here, I can understand the needs of what a story has to have, and yes - if it generally meets the above? I'll read it through to the end. Too much sex can turn me off, too - unless it has a place and purpose that just "fits" in the tale.

Anyway, there are my two-cents worth (uh, scratch that; with inflation, maybe I should say there is my 31-cents worth, right? :p ;)
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77716 is a reply to message #77683] Mon, 05 April 2021 18:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
joecasey is currently offline  joecasey

Getting started
Location: American Midwest
Registered: December 2017
Messages: 29



I was on the other end of it once, with a story I wrote for another site. I had a plot detail that, to me, made perfect sense. One reader let me know that he loved the story up until that detail, which for him became a kind of "eewww ..." moment and he stopped reading. In hindsight, I might have modified the detail so that the action was only thought about but never acted upon. 

If the writing is compelling, I'll probably finish a story even if one or more of the characters is doing something stupid; if the stupidity in question seems to follow the logic of the story, it's fine ... but, for me, consistency is the key thing. The moment the characters slip "out of character" can completely ruin a story.

I echo the sentiments of the poster who said that too much sex is a turn-off. We all understand the mechanics of it; for me, the more important thing is how the characters feel about what they're doing and experiencing, especially if this is a first time for either or both of them. Sex can be a very transformative event for a person.
Re: Difficult reading further?  [message #77740 is a reply to message #77716] Fri, 09 April 2021 03:46 Go to previous message
ray2x is currently offline  ray2x

Really getting into it
Location: USA
Registered: April 2009
Messages: 420



Conflict and Drama are ok as long as both can be believable. Some conflicts tend to be too much of angst and damnation, and that tends to make it unbelievable to me. It should be simple to understand, not so deep and angry, unpredicable and can make one a better person after all is done.
Previous Topic: Not revealed yet...
Next Topic: Writers Idolization
Goto Forum: