1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bad critique of my fantasy story

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Sep 18, 2014.

    Soooo... I've been talking about my writing with my boyfriend a lot lately. My current WIP is a fantasy novel that I plan to make into a trilogy (if I can ever lay it out properly). It has a pretty detailed back story and a few major plot points that I know I'm going to include. But since I've been struggling to determine what each book is going to contain (as discussed in another thread), I've been talking to him about it, trying to get ideas from a fellow fantasy lover.

    Well, the other night, he told me that my back story and my story itself is "too complicated" and that I should simply it as not to confuse people. Like I said, my back story is pretty detailed. But I don't plan on revealing that until at least the end of the first book, probably not even until the second or third. And even then, I'm only going to reveal parts at a time, not all at once. I also have a few major twists, one per novel. But the thing that he finds the most confusing is, I have over 20 races that I created for the story. There are only a few races that will be prominent in my story, and most of the rest of them will only be met in passing.

    I know what some of you are going to say... A complicated story only doesn't work if it's written wrong. And I agree. My boyfriend hasn't read anything (because nothing is written), he's just going off of what I've told him. But it still makes me worry.

    Since I know there's no "set number" of twists a novel can have before it becomes confusing... How should I handle a critique like this? Should I reevaluate my story and simplify it? Or should I just work my butt off to make sure I write it correctly?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not really a critique, is it? I mean, if you haven't written anything yet, it's a bit early to be getting critiques.

    I'd say stop talking about it and start writing it.
     
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  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is true. He did not critique your work. He speculated about your future work, which is what you asked him to do.

    The only way to know if something works is to do it and see if it worked, not to speculate about whether it will work without actually doing it.
     
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  4. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Okay....there's a few things that come to mind.

    He's your boyfriend, not a literary agent, impartial 3rd party or fantasy expert. With a few exceptions, its not generally recommended to involve romantic attachments in objective discussions of your work. In most cases the stuff in your relationship is likely to colour opinions somewhat.

    You are telling him, probably everything, probably really excitedly and probably without following a calculated plot line. It would be easy for him, under these circumstances to consider the subject of your discussions a rather large mess, not necessarily because it is, but because of the random and haphazard way in which it is discussed.

    So nothing is written yet? Its just a mass of idea's in your mind right now. Maybe write a chapter or two before you seek opinions. You might even form an opinion of your own that either confirms or denies what he's telling you.
     
  5. Joshua A
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    Joshua A Member

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    I had something a little similar to this, minus the boyfriend and various races, but I wanted to make a really detailed backstory and such..I wrote the first book, and it taught me a lot. It took me forever to write it. That was the first thing, that I should just put my nose to the grindstone and get it done. Regardless of what people say or think about it, sometimes it's best to just get it all out.

    The second thing I learned was, ironically, from the D&D game that I converted my world into. That created a whole range of things that changed and shaped it --I understand yours is much more molded than mine. But that's why I say, again, write it. Because mine changed and such, I can write it even better now - but that was because I didn't know what I was doing with it at first. You do though. So write it.

    And third, as those that came before me stated...it's not a critique. It's an opinion. Because of this, you should *still* write it, because even if he doesn't have an inkling of what's going on, you do. And because you do, you can write the words, the dialogue, the descriptions necessary to make the people that read it in the future understand what is going on, to be surprised by the plot hooks, to grasp their chair in fear or anticipation when something is going on.

    I am not sure how applicable my first two paragraphs are to you; I needed them for the third. For whatever reason, the first two felt important for me to say, to explain the gravity of the third. But maybe you can gain something from my experiences. 'Wisdom does not always come from one's own mistakes' as I've oft heard.

    Take care, I hope you can find a solution that pleases you :)
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks everyone!! I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

    I know it wasn't technically a critique.. And I probably shouldn't talk to him about it, being my romantic partner. But I've just moved to this new state to live with him, and I haven't made any friends here yet. I feel like I need someone to bounce ideas off of, see if it makes sense, see if it's too complicated or confusing or cliche. I don't really want to use the forum for all that because (not to sound rude or sure that my ideas are the best ideas in the world or anything) I'm afraid someone might steal my ideas.... :meh: So I used my boyfriend, asked for his advice, and definitely got it. lol

    I think what @PensiveQuill is the first major problem. I just unloaded everything on him without much explanation about how I'm writing it. I just said, "Well this happened, which caused this to happen, so then these people did this, and then this person got mad and did this, and...." So to him, it just sounds like too much. But I DO have a plan on how to write it, which I tried to explain to him, but he still thought, no matter how I presented it, it was too much for a reader to grasp.

    I think the second problem is I've already been beating myself up about my work recently, so to hear him say I should change everything I've worked so hard on right when I was feeling most vulnerable? I almost quit right then. lol I'm not going to, obviously. I've worked too hard to quit now. But it still wasn't something I wanted to hear right at that moment.

    I also just wanted to see how others dealt with people telling them their ideas are too much. I guess I've always known I just need to write it. I'm just a chronic planner, and I need to stop that... :dry:

    Thanks again everyone. :) I'll just put my nose to paper and start getting it out. Maybe then it'll make more sense.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, as others mentioned, until you actually start writing something, it's going to be very confusing to anyone. It's like some of the threads on forums, where the poster doesn't know or want to reveal all the details but still wants advice on the writing. Most often they're told to write it and put it up for critique.

    Your boyfriend's given you some things to think about as you're writing the story. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing to get all hyper about. It's like brainstorming - you get some ideas that won't work, some that might, and some that are solid gold. It's just part of the process.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Seriously, stop stressing and start writing. That wasn't a critique because nothing's been written. And if you're gonna be this easily shaken, then for goodness' sake stop discussing it with people who can't know your story (because it's not written lol). In any case, it's a little early to be asking for feedback, don't you think?

    Your boyfriend's comments are valid - however, he can't know that you weren't planning on revealing it all at once, he can't know even HOW you plan on revealing these details. In other words, his comments are valid but utterly, utterly useless.

    Go and write!!
     
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  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't worry if people aren't crazy about your ideas. And don't let it stop you from talking about them. I told my mother I was working on a story about worms that make vases and she made an are-you-crazy? face. But she read the novella and loved it. The good thing now is she'll be less apt to make a face when I tell what my next project is,hopefully -lol.

    Plus, readers aren't writers. They don't understand the process writer's go through. They see the finally product - smoothed out, backstory interlaced evenly throughout the narrative.
    They don't see the pages of history we worked out, the dates, the maps, the diagrams, all the bits and pieces that never made it into the story. If they could see all that they'd probably think this looks like chaos. But then they don't understand editing.
     
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  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Start writing, don't fall in love with your assets (meaning don't keep something that doesn't work just because you love it), and don't expect to be able to explain the story to someone until you get a good draft written.

    When I first tired to explain my plot to the critique group, I rambled out the details and they yawned. And they still didn't understand my hunter gatherer group that had knowledge but little technology.

    Now I can rattle off a more concise summary and a I have better idea myself what my key themes are in the story.

    As for using your boyfriend as a sounding board, that really depends on him. My son turned out to be an excellent critic and he helps me brainstorm. But I doubt many friends, relatives, and significant others would have those qualities.
     
  11. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    Many people can't envision the final work. That's not a crit. Basically, you laid out a bunch of ingredients and asked him how the cake tasted.

    I guarantee if you ask 10 writers to write you a story about X, you'll get 10 completely different stories. Some won't be any good and some will be outstanding. But you never know that without at least a rough draft.
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You should disregard any critiques of an idea, because those are completely meaningless. A lot of excellent literature sounds ridiculous when you try to distill the plot, and yet the writing makes it work beautifully. Don't waste time on being scared, or worrying - write! There's a lot of work to be done, possibly years, of honing your craft so you can tell your complicated stories well.
     

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