Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Guardian
Posts: 563
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 4:36 pm
Location: Somewhere between two realms
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Guardian » November 13th, 2010, 7:47 pm

Fenris wrote:Actually, I'll have to contradict Guardian here.
No problem as you're right. You misunderstood me, but that's my fault as I forgot to explain my point completely. I meant I also don't really like true humor in most hard or dark situations, but cynic or sarcastic remarks may be in play anytime (Which is actually sounds as a humor to most people, while it's not.). Actually I used present it on this way so both the protagnoist and the antagonist may say a cynic or sarcastic line, while it's not humorous at all, but it sounds as a humorous one.

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Margo » November 13th, 2010, 8:07 pm

Fenris wrote:While it's true that a wisecrack can relieve lots of tension...
When the majority of ms.s suffer from a lack of tension, why would relieving tension be a good thing?
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

Fenris
Posts: 293
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:02 am
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Fenris » November 13th, 2010, 8:22 pm

Guardian: Okay, that does make more sense when you put it that way. Still, it's best to be careful even with sarcasm in such cases so the protagonist doesn't appear heartless. On the other hand, if it's the antagonist... :)

Margo: You're right, for the most part conflict is a good thing in books. But if you want to make your characters seem dynamic and more like real people, you can't put them through trial after trial and have them come out just as happy and cheery as they were at the beginning. In a dynamic sense, the wisecracks are not meant to relieve tension from the plot so much as tension from the other characters, to keep them sane and in (relatively) high spirits. Also, every book has to have its low points (as in low in action and intensity, not low as in bad), or the high points wouldn't feel any different, and the book would lose its vitality. So in that way, using wisecracks wisely (pun unintended, I'm sorry :) ) shows that the characters haven't let their recent challenges get them down, and that there's life in them yet (and therefore in the book itself). Of course, this is just my take on the subject; others may well think differently.
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Margo » November 13th, 2010, 8:44 pm

Fenris wrote:But if you want to make your characters seem dynamic and more like real people, you can't put them through trial after trial and have them come out just as happy and cheery as they were at the beginning.
Absolutely. Of course, one of the best pieces of writing advice I've ever been given is this: No, you can't let your characters be happy, ever, even for a little while. Happy ending notwithstanding.
Fenris wrote:In a dynamic sense, the wisecracks are not meant to relieve tension from the plot so much as tension from the other characters, to keep them sane and in (relatively) high spirits.
Here would be where we differ. I don't want my characters in high spirits. Determined, yes. Desperate. Progressively hopeless. If the stakes are high and the odds set against them, I don't think they should be in high spirits. If the stakes aren't high, and the odds don't appear insurmountable, it's doubtful to me that the reader will worry for the characters or even stick with them very long.

I was reading a fantasy ms for a friend. He had a scene wherein his hero was about to be arrested and thrown into a horrible dungeony place, someplace from which people never escaped. Dark, dank, stinking, labyrinthine, monster-infested, etc. And the hero stands there and says something like, "I know I'll get out of this, and I'll come back to get you for this." And I thought, well if he knows he's going to be okay, then why should I worry? Why should I even be interested?
Fenris wrote:Also, every book has to have its low points (as in low in action and intensity, not low as in bad), or the high points wouldn't feel any different, and the book would lose its vitality.
I do agree that action and intensity must have lulls, though those should never be 'low' as in low-tension, low-conflict.
Fenris wrote:So in that way, using wisecracks wisely (pun unintended, I'm sorry :) ) shows that the characters haven't let their recent challenges get them down, and that there's life in them yet (and therefore in the book itself).
But I do think the challenges should get them down, or else it wasn't really a struggle, was it? They always knew they'd come through. Spirits high, no worries. I would relate this to a post Nathan made about character choices only having an impact if it's clear that the character had the ability and capability to make the opposite choice. Is it a challange if the characters are never in danger of losing and never lose confidence, never doubt themselves, never have an all-hope-is-lost but we're going on anyway moment?
Fenris wrote:Of course, this is just my take on the subject; others may well think differently.
LOL. Yeah, I'm used to that myself.
Last edited by Margo on November 14th, 2010, 2:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

Fenris
Posts: 293
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:02 am
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Fenris » November 13th, 2010, 9:31 pm

Very good points, Margo, you're right. Keeping the characters in high spirits is not nearly as important as leaving them with some sense of hope, though often the two coincide. But even when they don't, I like to keep my characters at least somewhat happy or I risk writing an angst novel. Which the market has seen a lot of fairly recently, if I'm not mistaken. :)

Still, it's good that we writers can have different opinions on these subjects. After all, if we didn't our writing would all look the same! That would be terrible!
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

Steppe
Posts: 122
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 7:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Steppe » November 14th, 2010, 7:54 am

I use the tool in question (cynical wit) as an extreme measure of action pacing.
I lead up towards a peak with cleverness and I lead down and away with cleverness.

Scene MC (eternal) & MC's older (immortal) self being observed by "a 36 immortals 2 eternals " courtroom in the all-futures/eternal".
This is a dodge and stall to create an undecipherable loop. They are investigating who injured the MC.
The MC unknown to reader has inflicted a memory loss head injury to prevent other time travelers from gaining the codes that unlike time and space permanently (potential to destroy universe) a key symbolic battle/foreshadowing event. 800 words. Humor lead in and lead out played dead straight in the middle.
Hope this example helps. The omniscient narrator joins in the tightening circle adopting the two characters ironic metaphor ( Jim Dandies - leather club ) as the pace tightens to breach a supernatural phenomenon.

Seaside Bar:

“A couple of shots and a Yellow Cab?”
“You get the drinks I’ll call the cab.”
Pierce headed over to the phone tucked into the early corner of the bar below the street entrance and almost stopped to watch a couple of biker chicks engaged in a final shoot out for a run of eight ball, but kept moving when he got a frown from the smaller pretty one. Once on the phone he dialed the number of Tatianni forgetting he had come across the bar for a cab. Aurian picked up the phone, and was a bit groggy but awake, getting ready to go to the Fairfield Arena for some of the early opening night chores.

“A cab for The Bottom of The Barrel, about fifteen minutes.”
“Doc? It’s me Auri... You need a ride?”
“I meant to call the Yellow Cab.”
“No problem I’ll see you in ten minutes or so.”
Pierce made it back to the bar as the oversized bartender from a pirate ship that must have run aground a few weeks ago put four double shots on the bar. The biker chick had given him a half smile on the way back so he figured he broke even.
The sun was reflecting off a few of the larger cheap beer advertisements and their fake crystal glass ornaments towards the bottles behind the bar, casting little rainbows that moved about as the sun was starting to hide behind the old boarding houses and whaling mansions at the top of the hill, six blocks up and half mile away.
“I got a Jim Dandy at both ends of the bar and I don’t want to get it bloodied up this early in the evening.”
Neither Alex nor Doc took notice of the bartender’s admonition. The bartender removed himself to the center of the bar and the two new neighbors clinked glasses softly and removed the contents quickly. Setting down both oversized shot glasses they repeated the procedure. The owner of the two Jim Dandies came for the glasses with a: “You guys have a good night.”
The bartender was back at mid bar as Alex and Pierce sat quietly. Both men were observing the various strange reflections now. The bartender occasionally glanced at them with vacant eyes scanning the long bars small islands of customers and watching the bikers play pool. The four high wall of bottles stacked three deep per shelf, below an elaborate and well kept mirror next to the cash register seemed to move a half inch or so. Pierce looked over at the bartender, his eyes focused in on the skull and crossbones tattoo. As the multitude of glass bottles leaned forward and slowly slid it was imperceptible at first covered by muted conversations and the dull thwack of a regularly scheduled pool shot.
The first bottle that hit the floor touched down at a soft angle rotating and wobbling breaking the fall of the first four or five of the hundreds that would follow onto this impromptu landing of every variety of strong liquors available worldwide.
As the sound became more intense the entire bars attention was drawn to the avalanche of spirits. The just fallen softened the landing for those about to come: until the entire four foot width of the bartenders walkway was covered for a ten foot distance, two to three bottles deep. The two neighbors and the bartender watched the cavalcade expressionless wondering when it would end. No one moved until it was over.
An act of Gods Nature.
Tatianni was outside waiting in her station wagon deciding to beep the horn and hurry Doc along.
Alex broke the mind numbing rhythum of clinking tinkles and jangling clanks and clunks produced by the falling bottles of liquor and nudged Pierce.
“Hmm... Yes it is time to go.”
Outside in the shadows of the twilight, Mathias kept his eyes on Doc to make sure he was steady on his feet. Satisfied, he looked up and down the street along the parked cars and did not spot the cab. Doc began walking mechanically towards Auri’s old dark green Chrysler station wagon and Alex followed a few steps behind.
“Now that’s a pretty cabby!”
Doc suddenly smiled and shook his head slightly remembering
he had just forgotten to remember he had just forgotten to remember.
“Oh yeah... I called the wrong number.”
“Maybe yes, maybe no. Time shall tell Pierce.”
“That was pretty cool... The bottles just jumping up and
making a racket like that and throwing themselves to the ground.”
“It was like a mass suicide that failed.”
“I noticed that to. No breakage, very curious.”
“Mr. Jim Dandy has a bit of clean up to do.”
“Pirates are not known for retrieving sunken treasure.”
“I have a feeling Mr. Jim Dandy has left the pirate biz.”
The green station wagon had allowed itself to coast a few feet forward suggesting that Doc and his new friend make good speed toward their car and driver lest it disappear.
“Let’s go let’s go let’s go...”

Steppe
Posts: 122
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 7:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by Steppe » November 14th, 2010, 8:01 am

unlike = unlock

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Is it a bad thing to not be serious?

Post by dios4vida » November 19th, 2010, 10:56 am

sierramcconnell wrote:Is flat humor a good thing for fantasy fiction?

Say, for instance, in the middle of a scene where the characters are discussing a possible cure to an affliction that has plagued a group for thousands of years. It's a huge OMG turning point. It involves growing a serum in tomatoes and one of the characters happens to say, "My plan has finally come to fruition."

And Bradley, sarcastic bastard he is, says, "Is it really fruition if it's a vegetable?"
First of all, that's hilarious!!

Second - Jim Butcher does the same thing. He has a definite voice of sarcasm and humor, even during the tense fight scenes. For me, it totally works. I love having a sprinkling of humor in things. I'd put it in my books, but I'm so not that intelligent. :-P

If that's your voice, then stick with it. Some people might grumble, but it's you and you shouldn't change your voice or style just because someone doesn't like it. Some of us might just adore it.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests