1. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Good weird' versus 'just weird'

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DefinitelyMaybe, Jun 7, 2013.

    If someone is aiming to write something out in 'left field', what distinguishes something that's 'weird in a good way' from something that's 'just plain weird'?

    What are the typical characteristics (including what either type of writing result is lacking) of both?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    IMHO, there needs to be a why to your weirdness. If it's just random strangeness for the sake of itself, that's what I would call 'just plain weird'.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Example:

    Though he was rather hamfisted in his use of this particular image in his Bas-Lag novels, Mieville used the handlingers - disembodied hands that grab you by the back of the neck, making you their puppet - as a political image. There are right-handed handlingers and left-handed handlingers. Conservative, liberal. You get the picture. There was a why.
     
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  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Some people think that to get published you need to do something different, and sometimes you turn to other writers who have been successful because they're "different". I did this myself recently and wrote a novel that I managed to complete, but something was off about it. So I looked through it again and realised I was writing with heavy influences from an author I had read very recently.

    And another thing hit me: the novel didn't have that personal touch, that style that was characteristically mine. Of course there was a big reason for that, so I edited it, but not so much that I lost everything that that particular writer taught me, as I enjoyed their work. I just added more of myself to it, metaphorically speaking.

    So I agree with Wreybies that there must be a "why" for the weirdness or change (for me it was because it suited the genre and my book very well; it's hard to explain without showing you my work), but remember however weird you want it to get, remember not to remove yourself. If you do that, then change for the sake of change is not worth it.
     
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  5. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a very good example.

    I think for me it's the other way around. Many of my favourite books have a touch of the unusual about them. Not too much, but one of my favourite authors is Robert Sheckley when he is on-form. (Which IMHO is not always.) Once before I was doing an exercise from a how to edit your own fiction book. And I was writing something too normal, too generic. Eventually I sort of mentally rebelled, and wrote something different from scratch that had a bit of unusualness to it. (And critiquers here seemed to agree.) I'd like to think (I may be being pretentious) that being a bit left field is my natural/preferred style.

    But being 'weird' or fractionally weird is risky, as others may see it as weird for no reason. I can't think of a famous book that's bad weird, though I think I read an intro to a Will Self novel that didn't work for me. Examples of weirdness that works, like the puppet hands, is really useful.
     
  6. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I agree completely with the necessity for reason that Wreybies mentioned. I can't think of anything else that differentiates the good and bad weird.

    I've never personally read it but I've heard about a lot of really strange things from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (THE BOOKS). It sounds full of bizarre, random stuff but it all seems to have some sort of reason and purpose. For example, there's a ship that's run by an engine fed by chaos, which is acquired through an on-board café (pardon my mangling).

    I'm very tired and not entirely sure what I'm doing here anymore. I think I'll cut my losses and leave this at a recommendation (one I should take, too).
     
  7. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I'd say to think about people you know who are good weird vs just plain weird. There's eccentric and then there's stark raving mad. Think about the differences in those types of people.
     
  8. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of the differences I have noticed is that I like a strong plot, even if it's highly surreal. Something that's weird and doesn't have a plot or where the plot doesn't move along fast enough just doesn't do it for me. Of course, other people may not think the same.
     
  9. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    Katawa Shoujo vs. Saya No Uta

    I encourage you to check out both, but be warned: the latter will give you nightmares.
     
  10. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that there is a lot of 'good weird' in Japanese media. I haven't read either of those two manga. Saya no Uta has an interesting synopsis on Wikipedia.
     
  11. Mot
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    Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis was pretty weird. No explanations for anything in the story, Kafka himself never provided any answers when asked about it, and it didn't seem to be an allegory either. Still, it's a classic.
     

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