Dec 16 2007

Bad Writing Question

Published by at 9:40 pm under Uncategorized

Quick question: which fictional character is better characterized:  Eragon’s dragon, Ash’s Charizard or a limp noodle?

I will make the counterintuitive argument that Charizard is actually better than the noodle.  He has a defining characteristic– laziness– and he gets slightly better lines than Eragon’s dragon.

(For new readers:  I hated Eragon… I’d write a review explaining why, but it would take me a lot more than 4000 words and I absolutely do not want to ever see that book again).

  • Absolutely cliche plot.  JRR Tolkien should have been credited as the co-author.
  • PAINFULLY bad characters– including a wasted dragon that is worse-characterized than a Pokemon.
  • The Chosen One.  This is actually a problem I should write about.  I will, after finals.
  • Montana Syndrome.  Did you know the author was from Montana?  Believe me, after the first ten pages of the characters trudging through a hellish, howling wasteland, you’ll figure it out.  This is closely related to NYC Syndrome in superhero stories, but NYC has the advantage of being remotely interesting and somewhat less desolate than Montana.

    • It’s never a problem to write what you know… as long as what you know isn’t painful (I hope Tom Clancy is reading this).  Tom Clancy’s sub chapters are so painfully parochial that I skip through them now.  “But how do you know what’s going on?”  If an enemy ship disappears from the plot, chalk it up to the sub and move on.

29 responses so far

29 Responses to “Bad Writing Question”

  1. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:20 am

    Personally, I think the noodle beats all of the above. By a mile.

    Go noodle!

    – Wings

  2. Ragged Boyon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:28 am

    I recently skipped a large chapter in the book I was reading because it felt like one big tangent. After finishing the book I realized that I had missed out on nothing by skipping that chapter. Talk about inadequate filler.

  3. Davidon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:33 am

    What are Montana Syndrome and NYC Syndrome? Also, what does parochial mean?

  4. Ragged Boyon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:38 am

    NYC Syndrome is the tendency to have superhero stories take place in New York. Because it encompasses both the glamour and glitz and the filth and crime, people find it a good place for a superhero story.

    I’m unsure on Montana Syndrome.

    Parochial means somelike a very limited or narrow way of looking at things.

  5. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:42 am

    One can read my reviews on Eragon to see exactly how I feel about it (and Twilight).

    God, his story is WORSE than my Onyx fiasco. *shudders*

    I mean, look:

    1. Cliches (so many I can’t list them all without falling asleep)
    2. Ripping off LOTR
    3. Convenient character introductions (Murtagh, anyone?)
    4. The Chosen One (Oh, don’t get me started on this. I will rant for hours.)
    5. Making a two dimensiona- no, more like a one-dimensional character.

    Looking for a good part in Eragon is like looking for a piece of hay in a needlestack (this term was coined by Pierce’s creator), it’s not only excruciatingly hard but extremely painful.

    – Wings

  6. Davidon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:44 am

    Alright, cool. Thanks.

    By the way, there’s an RPG on a website needing your attention. 🙂

  7. Tomon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:49 am

    How has no one mentioned Star Wars yet? George Lucas should have been credited as the co-author.

  8. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:51 am

    Oh, I knew there was something I forgot!

    A friend of mine said he could write a paper on the similarities between Star Wars and Eragon. I’ll have him post it when he decides to write it.

    – Wings

  9. Lunajamniaon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:51 am

    A lot of my characters (for non-science fiction) live in New York ’cause, well, that is where I live, what I know (countryside/hillbilly/small town). Contrary to most people’s mental image of NY, we have FARMS and country, it’s not one giant city. Just to clear up any misconceptions. 😉

  10. Tomon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:53 am

    “A friend of mine said he could write a paper on the similarities between Star Wars and Eragon.”

    No one could live long enough to complete that paper. I’m sure I mentioned elsewhere the conversation I had with my friend which basically boiled down to “if you’ve seen Return of the Jedi, you’ve read Brisingr.”

  11. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:54 am

    Oh. My. God.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0375826688/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

    Just read this. seriously.

    – Wings

  12. Davidon 28 Apr 2009 at 10:02 am

    Umm, ok. Wow. That’s some difference in opinion to you guys.

  13. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 10:07 am

    Here are some of the highlights (to us, lowlights)

    “The author takes the near-archetypes of fantasy fiction and makes them fresh and enjoyable, chiefly through a crisp narrative and a likable hero.”

    Oh, yeah right!

    It’s an impressive start to a writing career that’s sure to flourish.

    Says you!

    “An authentic work of great talent . . . I found myself dreaming about it at night, and reaching for it as soon as I woke.”

    Wrong! Wrong!

    In spite of the engrossing action…

    Engrossing, my hat!

    – Wings

  14. Davidon 28 Apr 2009 at 10:12 am

    Saying that, I’ve never actually read the novel. I liked the movie, but I’d never buy it on DVD.

  15. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 10:15 am

    Don’t bother reading it. Just let us tell you how horrible it was so that you don’t have to suffer.

    God, Twilight and Eragon are two of the most popular books today and neither of them deserve it. I mean, Harry Potter deserved the glory.

    – Wings

  16. B. Macon 28 Apr 2009 at 11:04 am

    NYC Syndrome is the tendency of writers to set stories in a cliche setting. In superhero stories and TV shows, that’s usually NYC. Unless there’s a really compelling reason to use NYC instead of some other metropolis, I’d recommend staying away from the cliche. In a few other situations, the cliche setting is somewhere else. For example, if your characters go to France, they will be in Paris. If they go to the UK, they will be in London. If they go to Asia, probably Tokyo. The problem is that we’ve already seen hundreds or thousands of stories set in these locations.

    Montana Syndrome is when an author draws very heavily on his home area. Paolini is from Montana and his characters spend an inordinate amount of time traveling across barren, craggy wastelands. More generally, Montana Syndrome refers to the set of problems associated with drawing too much on your geographic background.

  17. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 11:10 am

    Well, I’m in the middle of a relatively remote mountain range. I live in California.

    – Wings

  18. B. Macon 28 Apr 2009 at 11:28 am

    “…like looking for a piece of hay in a needlestack… it’s not only excruciatingly hard but extremely painful.” Haha!

  19. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 11:36 am

    I meant before that my book is situated in a mountain range, not me. I live in California! Where are the mountains?

    I’ll have to tell my friend that his humor was appreciated. Who knows, perhaps I can get us another reviewer… Still, where would one find a needlestack? *thinks*

    – Wings

  20. Holliequon 28 Apr 2009 at 12:52 pm

    The street and office building Zoe and Victor are in briefly is, I’ll admit, based off London. But it could be basically any British city.

  21. Asayaon 28 Apr 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I’d have to say the dragon is more characterized outta the three. But then again, she is a little generalized, too. I’d write more but I’m a little out of it (writer’s block, artist’s block and about ten other things).

  22. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Apr 2009 at 4:21 am

    I must admit to some NYC Syndrome. I’m planning on making FIGHT’s base in NYC, because it requires the least research. I’ll probably lampshade it.

    ISAAC: “Why the heck are we in New York? It’s the most cliched setting imaginable!”

    KAMARI: “Maybe because Tristram lives here. Besides, we’re superheroes! Living in or operating from New York is pretty much a requirement.”

    LIVIAN: “You think too much.”

  23. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Apr 2009 at 4:22 am

    “Where would one find a needlestack?”

    Gee, I don’t know, maybe in the Needlestack Shop? Durr! 😀 I’m kidding. Where would one find a Needlestack Shop? It’d be like finding a sane reader at a Twilight convention! Haha.

  24. Stefan the Exploding Manon 29 Apr 2009 at 5:21 am

    I’ll be the first one to admit to being guilty of the NYC Syndrome when I have to do scenes in city settings, mostly because you can do almost any kind of scene with New York City. I also don’t really know what the feel is for other cities.

  25. Lunajamniaon 29 Apr 2009 at 6:24 am

    I’m going to NYC for three weeks in like … five days. So I’m sure quite a few of my stories will now be filled with cities, whereas it used to be towns. I mean, I’ve never been in a city for more than a day or two, and that was limited to my grandmother’s house. I’ve never been able to write about cities ’cause I didn’t know what they were like and couldn’t imagine them well enough–any characters who were in a city left within two pages.

    I’m sure all that shall change, now. I’ll probably take notes.

  26. Ragged Boyon 29 Apr 2009 at 7:12 am

    I like NYC. I’ve only been there once and I loved everything. The loudness, the dirtiness, the lights, the crowdness. I felt like if there’s any city to make a name for myself in, it’s this city. Most people I know wouldn’t think of going to NY, but as for me, I like any change of pace that’s faster.

    I was going to set Facade in NYC, but maybe not. I may change Facade altogether.

  27. Gurion Omegaon 29 Apr 2009 at 10:58 am

    Hmm…I’d take the limp noodle, because:

    1) It beautifully depicts nothingness.

    2) It’s edible!

    3) Uhhh….if you stuffed it down Eragon’s throat…he’d uh…die?

  28. Gurion Omegaon 29 Apr 2009 at 11:00 am

    I’m thinking that mine would start around a mountain….oh wait, probably not.

  29. Anonymouson 29 Apr 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Yes! More supporters of the Limp Noodle!

    – Wings

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