1. stormin'norman
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    stormin'norman Member

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    Human experience & the world's significant events

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by stormin'norman, May 1, 2011.

    After reading LaGs's "Is it just me...." thread, it made me curious about how many writers on this site prefer something other than writing fantasy.

    Are there writers here that consider themselves writers of the human experience?

    Do you prefer modern or historical settings for your characters?

    Are you currently writing about the humor, love, pain, etc. of life?

    If so, what inspires you...?

    A conversation?
    A character from a story?
    A certain type of music?
    An article?
    A relationship?
    A movie?
    A documentary?
    A dream?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I guess I write about the human condition, but I don't know whether I'd go with "writer of the human experience", that's a little grandiose, even for me...

    I'm only really interested in pain, conflict, tension. Those emotions are so much more complicated and compelling than happiness, humour, etc. Generally I take my inspiration from other novels or films, starting with stealing elements of the plot or thematic ideas or symbols or whatever I like and combining that with bits that I've stolen from other places until I have an interesting new concept.
     
  3. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Fantasy can be about the "human experience" too, since humans are usually the main characters from which the reader experiences something different (and even if they weren't human, they are given "human" qualities). Just because a story has magic or takes place in the magical kingdom of the dragons doesn't mean it can't provide insight into humans or the "human experience". Crappy fantasy, maybe, doesn't relay the "human experience", but read some really good fantasy - Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and so on - and you'll be amazed.


    But disregarding that, I'm one of those people that like a little bit of everything - love, tragedy, comedy, whatever - but I like most of all those small little moments that contribute to bigger things, the small little scenes that are usually "boring" but, viewed with a certain angle, are amusing and touching in their own way. I also like seeing characterization, and how different characters interact with each other; this is why I tend to gravitate towards character-based stories, though not necessarily the stereotypically emotional-intense classic novel - just those that focus more on characters and their personalities.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused here. Are you saying that writing fantasy can't be about the human experience? While I don't write fantasy, I'd have to disagree with that anyway.

    As for your other question, I seem to be inspired by the many, many ways that people can be dysfunctional in their lives and relationships. :) I'm rather hoping that that will transform itself into a more positive appreciation of the many different ways that people experience life.

    ChickenFreak
     
  5. stormin'norman
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    stormin'norman Member

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    This is a great way to create a story. The original creators of concepts usually aren't as significant as those who understand how to "connect the dots."

    It's a shame the market is set up to reward those who tend to focus on emulating the plot or theme of the latest bestseller.

    I agree. It's hard for me to stay interested in a story that fails develop its characters.
     
  6. stormin'norman
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    stormin'norman Member

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    Yeah, I could have worded that in a different way. I definitely think that characters of fantasy can portray the various expriences and emotions of humans.

    But I would be curious to know how many readers would feel that a character, such as a troll or dragon, would devalue the signifcance of a portrayal of the human condition. After all, its not human.

    For me, its just easier to sympathize or empathize with a human character.

    I've always been impressed by writers that have the ability to shine a light on dysfunctional relationships. I would imagine it takes a great deal of effort to effectively develop the complex characters of these stories.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As I understand the question, it's really a matter of whether you prefer writing about the world in which we live (or have at some point in time lived), or if you prefer creating a whole new world to write about. I tend to regard the current trend toward fantasy as either a desire to find new territory in writing or else a dissastisfaction with having to deal with the current state of "the human condition". The latter could be regarded, I suppose, as escapism or laziness.

    I've written 4 novels. The furthest back I've gone in time in any of them was from 1920onward, and that was in my first novel. Since then, I've written one set entirely in current time, one that went back to the early 70s and onward and one that went back to the late 1950s and onward. My current project is a dystopian novel set 200 years in the future, but it is set here in the US and I do not consider it a fantasy. I have plans at some point for two historical novels, one from 1500 on and one from about 1680 on. But I probably won't start on either until I retire and can devote the appropriate amount of time to them.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, a thunderstorm, mountain, freight train, horse, or cat isn't human either. Most stories will contain all sorts of things or creatures that aren't humans. In a fantasy story, something is a sentient creature with thoughts and motivations, in which case it is essentially human, or it's not, in which case it's essentially an animal or thing. If the sentient creature's thoughts and motivations are very, very different from those of a normal human, that difference itself is an examination of what it is to be human.

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    ^Agreed. I'll admit I don't read lots of Fantasy (because I have to mostly read Classics because of University) however as mentioned before if the Fantasy is well-written it can provide so much insight into characters, you might forget the characters aren't actually human. I loved Watership Down, and got so attatched to certain characters I had to remind myself they were in fact bunnies. Same with Fire Bringer- an amazing fantasy novel about deer and one of my favourite books- better characterisation than many I've read about humans :3

    As for what inspires me, it's really about emotions and relationships- how people relate to each other, mistakes we all make and how we work to fix them. Dynamics between friends, between lovers, between enemies- between us and the world. >w<; Everything?
     
  10. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    human story/fantasy - i do a bit of both. Although when it come to fantasy I stick to the short story.

    Human stories can be more dramatic and heartfelt.

    Fantasy can be and often are just as, if not more terrifying/blood thirsty/heart-wrenching/heartwarming/romantic as a human story. But at the back of your mind you always know it is fantasy and therefore, for me it does not have the same impact as a human involvement story.

    On this forum I think I'm in the minority. (I fell asleep half way through the film Star Wars ) enough said.
    Edit
    to redeem myself - I did cry when Bambi's mother Died - But not half as much as I did at the end of the film, The Day They Gave Babies Away.
     
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  11. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tried to get into fantasy as a teen, but didn't get very far... There are exceptions of course.

    I read lots of whodunnits, many of the 'classics', some Sci Fi, historical, political fiction, discovered Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, Orwell et al. I loved P.G. Wodehouse.
    So my influences were quite a mixed bag.

    Music has had a huge influence on my writing, particularly Lennon (political) and Ray Davies (kitchen-sink, 'working man'-type themes).

    Most of what I write is based in the 'real world', as it were. Not all doom and gloom though, I love humour and a good dose of satire. :)

    I've tried my hand a psychedelic-wanna-be short stories in my day.
    Good fun.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can enjoy and (attempt to) write any genre really apart from cutting-edge contemporary comment, and gore, but the main thing for me is that in some way the characters are recognisably human and that there is an interesting and reasonably logical plot with a dash of humour if suitable. I rarely find a fantasy book that answers to this. So much fantasy verges on the pretentious, humourless and heavily-written.

    I liked Artemis Fowl, though. And The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy makes me laugh and remember my days at uni. I haven't come across anything noteworthy recently. I wasn't keen on boring old Harry Potter, which unlike timeless classic like the Narnia series is not a book that can really be enjoyed by adults IMO.
     
  13. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    While my two main works are both fantasy (though the more urban kind), otherwise I either write light-hearted romance or heavy and disturbing psychological drama... the area in-between has barely been touched.

    Yet I feel like there are some fantasy elements in these real stories as well, even though it's not fantasy. It's more that a lot of my disturbed characters live in their own fantasy world. Example, a girl who was abused as a child goes from relationship to relationship where she is treated exactly the same as then. And because of what happened to her as a child, she developed a fantasy friend who protected her. As it turns out, she actually has multiple personality disorder, and she gradually start losing grasp of which one of them is real. She doesn't want any treatment because she's afraid one of them might disappear, and she wants them to be together forever. (I kind of wish I realized which one of them was real, but it's never revealed... even to me.)
     
  14. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    True, but the readers are human, and people naturally tend to yearn for connections to their own humanity (just look at people and their pets, dressing them up, swearing they can communicate and have souls and stuff).

    So, a good writer, even when dealing in dragons or trolls, will tap into human nature unless they've found a previously unclaimed audience of literate trolls and dragons to write their books for.

    A mistake novice writers make is thinking a fantasy story doesn't have to have anything to do with humanity. Such stories don't lack the connections of human experience because the characters aren't human, but because the writer forgot to put such touches into the story. Charlotte's Web, for example, is very much a human story despite having farm animals for characters.

    Often, I find fantasy stories a bit heavy handed in this area; since it's fantasy the author feels more comfortable making statements on humanity, and their message can get overwrought and start feeling like an agenda. And no amount of 'but it's just about trolls' will change the fact it's written by people, for people to read, so has everything to do with us and our humanity.
     
  15. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    I've written horror, comedy, science fiction and war stories, in addition to fantasy.

    I some-what consider myself to be a writer of human experience, although most of the experience is my own, repackaged in the form of a fictional character's story.

    I'm not a young man anymore. During the course of my life, I've been a child, a student, a burger flipper, a soldier, a mercenary, a security specialist, an Emergency Medical Technician, a law enforcement officer, a business man, a victim of crime, a criminal, a victim of circumstance, a political activist, a painter, a sculptor, a writer, a lover, a poet, a comedian, a dupe and a fool.

    Probably more of that last one than any other.

    That gives me a decent sized base of human experience to draw upon.

    Depends on what I'm writing and my mood. I tend to be whimsical that way.

    I'm currently contemplating writing an op-ed piece about my personal views on life, as a aging, pot bellied, grumpy old curmudgeon confronted by the 21st century. All these young hipsters, with their cell phones glued to their ears, not even paying attention to where they are walking because they are too busy texting each other...then they are all ZOMGWTFBBQ when they walk directly into me and obnoxiously say "Watch it Pops!" with an LOL.

    BAH! Bah I say, and I bloody well mean BAH!

    *Gives the impression he just likes saying "BAH" a lot*

    WHO NEEDS EM! :mad:

    *Pulls out the big, chunky 1980s cell phone, that weighs more than the car he drove in college, and WHACKS the hipsters over the head with it*

    My unwritten memoirs mostly. My ability to recall all the various deeds of daring do from my life, tends to degrade over time as my memory fades with age. The older I get, the more "Fuzzy" my memory becomes. The more "Fuzzy" my memory becomes, the more brazen and heroic my past adventures seem to become. The more brazen and heroic my past adventures seem to become, the more interesting my stories tend to be. ;)
     
  16. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Finally someone else who doesn't like Star Wars! My ex loves those movies and I could never watch the whole thing. Either I fell asleep or just left.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since i'm a philosopher-writer, of course i write about the 'human experience' exclusively, do not write fiction except rarely... and if/when i do, it's still based on human behavior, meant to hopefully affect it in a positive way...

    and aside from me as an exception, others here don't write fiction, either, y'know...
     

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