1. Steve843

    Steve843 New Member

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    Copy and paste lazy writing.

    Discussion in 'Descriptive Development' started by Steve843, Jan 24, 2023.

    Hi am new to the forum, and am using it as a workshop to test ideas and exchange views. My particular interest is writing military fiction thrillers. I have an idea which is the core of three possibly four stories in series.
    To my question. why do we read so many pieces of military fiction where the story is handed over to the most detailed specifications of the latest weaponry that is obviously copied from magazines like guns and ammo, or even worse firearms manufacturers websites.
    I confess to being guilty of this on my first outing to try and pad the story. However in a lot of current work it becomes overtechnucal and detracts from the story. What have other readers and writers seen that is an obvious copy and paste, and do you find it anoying, when just a little more researching and imagination would have provided a better outcome.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
  2. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Slaintѐ mhaith Contributor

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    Shame on you, Stephen, using tedious technological descriptions to "pad" a story. One assumes you now have seen the light. ;)

    It's not just military thrillers that provide endless details of equipment. For example, costume romances go into intricate detail about surcotes, petticoats, and frockcoats, depending on the era. Some readers love the technical aspects of novels, be the technology that of weapons, Regency footwear, or computers. If the novel is good enough, I just skip over the lovingly detailed equipment descriptions and get on with the story. If a writer is cutting and pasting descriptions from magazines or websites, it becomes plagarism, which is something else all together.
     
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Military porn, torture porn (like the Saw movies), fashion porn, what-have-you. The word pornography has been confiscated by one particular branch, but really it means the focus is on unimportant surface elements that hold the fascination, rather than on the deeper elements of story or film or photography. It's what multi-million-dollar blockbuster movies are (some more than others)—all spectacle and no depth. It's a shallow surface use of the medium that elicits an addictive response, so is used extensively in advertising and in material intended to make money but that doesn't carry any deeper meaning. It can be easy in the beginning to fall into the trap of writing this kind of stuff. It's got a certain power to it and grabs the attention. But if you're at all serious about what you're doing as an artform or decent entertainment, then you'll move on and leave that area behind.
     
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  4. Steve843

    Steve843 New Member

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    Shame on you, Stephen, using tedious technological descriptions to "pad" a story. One assumes you now have seen the light.

    It wasnt untill I started writing that I became aware of how often it happens
     
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  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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  6. Steve843

    Steve843 New Member

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    Thanks well said and well intended
     
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  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    One example—there are plenty of sports-related movies made for surface spectacle. But then look at something like Rocky. Written by Sylvester Stallone and hawked by him until some Hollywood studio saw its merit and decided to back it. The guy is actually a lot more talented and intelligent than he seems. I think he also wrote the screenplay for Rambo. Both would easily lend themselves to the spectacle approach, and their sequels did, to the point they became synonymous with some of the shallow and terrible filmmaking of the 80's where bodybuilders and models replaced actors. But both originals actually have a great deal of depth and are handled deftly. And while he was a bodybuilder and did plenty of shallow spectacular movies, Stallone was also capable of some good acting and writing.
     
  8. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Slaintѐ mhaith Contributor

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    Funny how that works, hmm? ;)
     
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  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    One way to avoid this syndrome is to try to base your writing more on life experience than on things you picked up from other stories or movies. Try to lean toward honesty rather than stereotypes. What I'm saying here is a little different from 'Write what you know'—well, actually it's a part of it, but a somewhat general or generic asepct of it. Think about the way actual people react to things, not how characters in books or movies tend to. Many of them are stereotypes.
     
  10. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    Some people are much more interested in things than other people, to the extent that it seems a sensible part of the genre. I suspect it's hard to appropriately set the readers' expectations on that front. Some consider it a 'departure' from the main content (grr, get back to the human condition already!) and others are genuinely invested in those details. I've always avoided Tom Clancy novels because I expect them to feature a lot of that, and just the same I've met a few people that look forward to those parts.

    Actual copy-paste of others' material is of course plagiarism, and those authors should stop doing that if they are, but I'm not sure if you meant it more as a literal or hyperbolic statement.
     
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  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The abundance of technical detail is a reader demand ( or more accurately an agent and publisher demand based on the perception that that’s what their customers want).

    you look at something like Tom Clancy you can see the progression from the relatively spare detail on patriot game or hunt for the red October through to sum of all fears where he spent five pages on the detonation of a nuke which could be summarised as “ the bomb detonated”

    the key as a writer is experience or research to put enough detail in without being too much
     
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  12. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That scene is a fuck you from Clancy to his critics. "Too much detail, huh? Watch this."
     
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  13. Steve843

    Steve843 New Member

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    "That scene is a fuck you from Clancy to his critics. "Too much detail, huh? Watch this."

    Ouch.
     
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    That's not lazy writing. It's plagiarism. And anyone who does that should just stop writing. Seriously, it's straight up stealing. And, if caught, it will ruin your reputation and no one will want to work with you again, rightfully so. Not to mention you can be sued for it. I don't think it happens as much as you think. Most people in the industry know how wrong and serious it is.
     
  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think he means literally copying. Just practically copying.
     
  16. Mogador

    Mogador Senior Member

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    I think it has its place.

    I read a book about Augustinian legions teaching the barbarous German tribes a lesson. It was just about competent on plot, poor on character, but great on period detail. For someone like me --- who would probably have ended up reading some very dull encyclopaedia entries on the subject if I hadn't come upon that book, not for work just because I find the period interesting --- this was just what I wanted. Enough storytelling to keep all the detail company.

    It didn't help tell a univeral story about the human condition, but
    I still wanted to know specifics of drill detail, exact hierarchies and protocols, I wanted to be cross referencing all six different German tribes and I wanted to know exactly how they maintained their weapons when camped in a marsh.

    Sure better storytelling would have been nice, but the man clearly has to write three a year, and I didn't mind.

    Calling that 'pornography' isn't right. Its basically doing the same thing as a nature documentary that is about some plain old beetle, but dresses it up with some light human interest narrative about it struggling to bring a leaf back to it's nest against the odds. We are curious about these subjects but they are dry, so a little narrative helps wash it down.

    I would also suggest that this approach is the opposite of shallow spectacle, even if neither approach is exactly Shakespearean.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2023
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  17. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I agree, it doesn't sound like the Hollywood special effects movies I was talking about in the blog post at all, or like the similar kind of technology-heavy scenes in certain books. I don't think it's an example of what I or the OP were talking about.
     
  18. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I remember a short story called What They Carried. It was a list of things sodiers carried with them into battle. I don't remember if part of it was in sentences, but for the most part it was just a list of items, and there was a powerful human story implied behind it. It certainly wasn't what I would call empty effects or spectacle. It was entirely about things, but the things told a story about people indrectly. History-based stories can do that. Historical events are generally centered on powerful human emotions, even if those aren't focused on specifically.
     
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  19. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Slaintѐ mhaith Contributor

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    Do you mean The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien?
     
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  20. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    That must be it. Hey, I got half of the words right... :D
     
  21. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Slaintѐ mhaith Contributor

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    It was a pretty cool novel. O'Brien's writing rhythm takes some getting used to, but I enjoy it.
     
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  22. w. bogart

    w. bogart Active Member

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    You are missing fair use, and the possible lack of expertise on the part of the author.

    Using specifications from an expert source is not a problem. The problem comes in an author not understanding the information well enough to make use of that information effectively to move the story forward.
     

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