This is what happens when I – a gamer so casual that it took TWO YEARS to finish a game my nephew finished in three weeks – chat with a group of old gamers.*
First, I tell them that yes, I finally finished the main storyline of Witcher 3 but not all the side quests. How did I like it? I liked that I could wander around for an hour at a time, enjoying the scenery and random monsters. The male playable character is kind of skanky, though, and I was unprepared for the gore.
After a reader’s suggestion following another post, I decided to share my personal* list of things I detested as a reader and will not duplicate as a writer. I will not name the disappointing novels and falling-short stories which inspired this list, but readers are free to guess. Continue reading
Perhaps because of the angry fan reactions to the end of Game of Thrones (I never saw it), Ryan Lanz has a fine post Let Your Characters Live On Without You.
“A writer actively made a choice, it was their choice to make, and there’s nothing their audience can do to change it once it’s published and out there in the world.”
This resonated with me. I have been disappointed by the endings of series, especially ones that started grandly and slowly died. Sometimes the author does better with a stand-alone or I can re-read the first book without troubling with the rest.
Worst case scenario, I avoid the author’s other works.
The real consolation is that I learn something. I can’t blame the authors who risked telling their stories! Instead, I add to a list of things I won’t do in my own writing.*
Here are some from my list, a few so old that I’ve forgotten the story that disappointed me.
- Don’t build up a girl as a strong, intelligent female and then have her take unquestioned orders from an oracle, a newly-met boy, or a stranger who says “Everything you thought was true, is a lie!” (This is a mash-up of several books.)
- Don’t make characters unconscious (sleeping, knocked out, drugged by the villain) so they miss crucial conversations or so other characters can do heavy lifting.
- Don’t make everyone love/protect your protagonist unless it’s clear WHY the protagonist is lovable/valuable to those characters.
- If the protagonist’s friend or family member is kidnapped/tortured/killed, NEVER LET THE PROTAGONIST FORGET. (Especially if it’s convenient to make the kidnapper/torturer/killer into a key ally of the protagonist!)
- If an enemy has vowed to destroy/kill the protagonist, do not use deus ex machina or a secondary character to avoid the head-to-head conflict.
- Don’t make lazy correlations as shortcuts to understanding characters; e.g. religious = fanatic, gay = artistic, old = feeble.
*Gail Carriger, author of Soulless, recently Tweeted things she was tired of in YA novels. One was the male stalker who becomes the love interest.
I’m putting the Freebies right here for the TL/DR crowd:
- The SFFwaudio Podcast. I like SF and I love G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, so I’m enjoying listening to the audio version and looking forward to hearing the podcast discussing it.
- Instant Pot Recipes at Allrecipes.com is giving me an overview of my intimidating birthday gift, which I haven’t used yet.
The recent three days of snow have made me grateful (yet again) for kind neighbors and profoundly covetous of their garages. I have to remind myself that I can survive another winter without one, unlike a furnace or a water heater. Continue reading