Author Topic: What makes a good story writer/author?  (Read 293 times)

Guzman

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What makes a good story writer/author?
« on: June 05, 2017, 01:43:05 PM »
At the risk of getting lampooned and rabidly attacked by Sven and Je, here goes nothing.

Something ive been thinking about lately.  What makes an author/story writer a good one, or a rubbish one?.  Heres my take on it all, im gonna have to divide it into segments .

Dont take the path to least resistance on it

I think this factor plays a very big part in an author being called a good writer or bad writer, or a lazy writer.   For example, if you are going to write a story for a thriller movie, and your going to make a crazy killer go killing people in a certain way, or make them capture people and put them through crazy games for their survival, you have to create a background story behind the killer giving a reason as to why they are doing this.   Yes this takes extra creativity to do, and even more storyline writing , but taking the path to least resistance would be to not bother doing it.  Then the ending will just be considered a cop out.

This is why i dont rate the movie "Walking among Tombstones" with Liam Nesson in.  To me it failed to deliver a reason as to why the person was going around doing what their doing.  To me it came across like "well he's doing it because he just is".  But on the other hand, the main author of that 90s tv series Cracker with Robbie Coltrane in i think did do a good job with creating background stories, and this is why i go around saying "they could of easily been turned into movies, instead of feature length tv series episodes".  Cracker was about exactly that....not WHO is doing the killings, but WHY are they doing the killings?.

Thinking outside the box vs thinking inside the box
 
Thinking outside the box i think is very hit and miss.  It can either be the reason that it will be considered good and original, or be considered stupid and ridiculous.  Im going to use two vampire movies as examples here.   The Twilight saga, and Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter.   In my opinion Abe Lincoln vampire hunter was rather original and did think outside the box, and i found it interesting as a result.

I dont think it was ridiculously far fetched either.  Because apparently Abraham Lincoln was actually keen on combat.  He was a rather skilled freestyle wrestler.   Where as on the other hand, Stephanie Myer making vampires sparkle in the sunlight is thinking outside the box, but its ridiculous.   Thats making vampires be too adorable and cutesy wootsy, where traditionally vampires are rather grotesque and ghastly beings.

The story and world has gotta make sense

Last but not least, this factor.  This is possibly the most important one.   Very often in novels, the world and society that is created in them is either abstract or surreal from actual real life.  I saw a japanese movie last year called Battle Royale, and for this factor here, it was one of the worst wrote movies ever!!!!.   The whole thing just didnt make sense.   It was an abstract political system in the future in Japan, where schools with too many unruly and criminal children are all kidnapped and thrown onto an island where they all gotta kill each other till only one is left.  How on earth would that make society better??, how can it even be any form of reformation?.

If you really did send a secondry school onto an island for that, which kids are most likely to survive?. The week nerdy library and computer loving kids, or the rough and tough kids who smoke behind the bikesheds at break, meet each other after school for a fight and go shoplifting in WH Smiths after school?.  Do you think the latter kind are going to become better kids when the event is over?.  And if by a long shot chance one of the former kind won the event, would they become better for it?, or would the event of totally destroyed their innocence?.  I heard this movie influenced The Hunger Games.  That explains then why that was rubbish aswell.

Another kind of movie with an abstract political system and society is The Purge.  But i think this one is more forgivable.   In some ways in a crazy way its relatable to some people.  But in reality it could never work.  Do you really think that you could get all criminals to behave themselves for 364 days of the year?.  The kind of criminals that rob banks and do heists, why wouldent they do that during a non purge day instead?.  Why would they go out and do it where the streets would be full of homicidal maniacs that would kill them just for the fun of it with no legal repercussion for it?

bababarararacucucudadada

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 02:31:25 PM »
You ask the question "what makes a good story writer/author" and then talk exclusively about films.

It's no wonder people take the piss out of you.

Go and read Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and then watch the Bogart film. They are both wonderful so neither will waste your time but by the end you'll, maybe, realise the difference between writing a book and making a film.

Guzman

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2017, 06:25:26 PM »
But heres the thing.....every storyline to a movie has to begin on paper first.    Also take into account that many movies plots came from an actual written novel first.  Jimmy Mcgovern is an actual author, but he wrote most of the plots to the Cracker episodes.  So me not mentioning any actual novels (hardback or paperback) does not make my whole thread invalid.   Im not into reading novels, just not my thing.  Any books i read are factual books like history books ect, novels just not my thing.

bababarararacucucudadada

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2017, 08:02:32 PM »
Try being slightly less blinkered.

There's plenty of novels that are based on factual background. Try reading Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser and you'll learn far more about Britain's Victorian history than will in a dry old biography.

Not only is it stuffed with impeccably researched history (complete with masses of references if you want to go to the source material) but it is incredibly topical (being largely set in an Afghanistan where little has changed in the 180 years or so from when the novel is set), brilliantly written, an exciting page turner and hilariously, in an utterly non-PC way, funny. There's a film too which is alright but it is the novel which sparkles.

Much better than some dull old story of Palmerston's (who features amongst many others) career.

And if you like the first one there's a whole series of 'em. Crimea, the slave trade, Little Big Horn, the Sikh Wars, Boxer Rebellion, Sepoy Mutiny, Rorke's Drift, Khartoum and the Taiping Rebellion and more including Napier's incredible expedition into Abyssinia which I'll happily wager you have never even heard of.

And as I say packed with more factual, historical detail than you can shake a stick at.

Sven

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2017, 09:38:45 PM »
But heres the thing.....every storyline to a movie has to begin on paper first.    Also take into account that many movies plots came from an actual written novel first.  Jimmy Mcgovern is an actual author, but he wrote most of the plots to the Cracker episodes.  So me not mentioning any actual novels (hardback or paperback) does not make my whole thread invalid.   Im not into reading novels, just not my thing.  Any books i read are factual books like history books ect, novels just not my thing.

Since when have you read a history book?

Author and title.

Je

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2017, 09:47:06 PM »
A good writer writes. Churns it out. Produces. I don't know what the proportion is but a huge number of writers are wannabes who like the idea of being a writer but not the writing. I'm one of those - useless. Well, I like writing, but am not disciplined enough.

As for the quality. I'd guess
- relevant to the audience.
- whatever makes them want to turn the page or stay tuned. You'll have heard the waiting for the other shoe to drop: that. Or whatever.

I'll leave it there. Your post was 812 words BTW: that could have been a whole short story instead...
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 09:49:34 PM by Je »

whitesage

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2017, 10:42:32 PM »
But heres the thing.....every storyline to a movie has to begin on paper first.    Also take into account that many movies plots came from an actual written novel first.  Jimmy Mcgovern is an actual author, but he wrote most of the plots to the Cracker episodes.  So me not mentioning any actual novels (hardback or paperback) does not make my whole thread invalid.   Im not into reading novels, just not my thing.  Any books i read are factual books like history books ect, novels just not my thing.

Yes, there are many scripted from a novel, but many that were just written as a script, or screenplay.
For instance, Downton Abbey was not a novel, if I am not mistaken.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Original_Screenplay

Q13.1

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2017, 11:33:54 PM »
Yes, there are many scripted from a novel, but many that were just written as a script, or screenplay.
For instance, Downton Abbey was not a novel, if I am not mistaken.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Original_Screenplay

;)

Guzman

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2017, 12:43:39 PM »
Since when have you read a history book?

Author and title.

Its a shame that that was the only thing that grabbed your interest in my OP (and this thread aint going to become about that)

But i do own these two following history books.   Visual History of the twentieth century where the general editor is listed as Terry Burrows.   And ive also got a book called The Last 1'000 years where no author is listed, but the publisher is Parragon.   Ive got another book similar to the latter somewhere that goes back even further than 1'000 years, even to the days of the celt queen Bodicia.   When i went on a long train journey once in 2006, i printed up pretty much everything that Wikipedia documented on Vikings.   I even learnt that wednesday, thursday and friday are all named after norse gods.  Ive borrowed books before aswell from my grandfather on local history.

Sven

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2017, 12:51:54 PM »
Its a shame that that was the only thing that grabbed your interest in my OP (and this thread aint going to become about that)

But i do own these two following history books.   Visual History of the twentieth century where the general editor is listed as Terry Burrows.   And ive also got a book called The Last 1'000 years where no author is listed, but the publisher is Parragon.   Ive got another book similar to the latter somewhere that goes back even further than 1'000 years, even to the days of the celt queen Bodicia.   When i went on a long train journey once in 2006, i printed up pretty much everything that Wikipedia documented on Vikings.   I even learnt that wednesday, thursday and friday are all named after norse gods.  Ive borrowed books before aswell from my grandfather on local history.

You mentioned the Wikipedia thing before. That means you "know" a bit from an encyclopedia. Not a serious amount.

All of the days of the week are named after Norse gods.

Why are you writing 1000 with an apostrophe after the 1? It looks weird, and I cannot imagine anywhere where you would have possibly seen it written like that.

Its "Boudicca". Or Boadicea.

These general history books are nice light reading, but they frequently gloss over important things, and do not give any serious insight.
It does take years to fully understand specific issues, so if you do want to understand things, then take some time to read one specific subject quite well.

Anyway. If you were to say what you think on popular TV and films, then that I would accept as you having some insight.

If you do really want to comment on storytelling and the like, you should read novels as other people have pointed out.

Sure TV shows and films are ways of telling stories, but they are commonly condensed because of time constraints.

A very very good example of this is the Game of Thrones TV series, verses A Song of Ice and Fire.
While the TV series does an overall good job, and tells a different but still interesting and clever story, there is much of it which the books can afford to go into more detail or have a more complicated situation.


Guzman

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2017, 02:36:53 PM »

All of the days of the week are named after Norse gods.

No their not, Saturday is named after Saturn, a Roman god.  Monday is named after the moon, Sunday is named after the Sun.  Tuesday i dont know about.

Its "Boudicca". Or Boadicea.

I never spelt her name like that either ;-)

These general history books are nice light reading, but they frequently gloss over important things, and do not give any serious insight.
It does take years to fully understand specific issues, so if you do want to understand things, then take some time to read one specific subject quite well.

I agree thats true, but you asked me to name you history books i have and have read, and i did.  Theres more to the american civil war for example than what my second book mentioned covered.

Anyway. If you were to say what you think on popular TV and films, then that I would accept as you having some insight.

But isnt it good that im not just watching only the hot topic stuff?.  Lately im starting to give international cinema a go more than i use to, because i think hollywood movies are going downhill lately and are being too slow or too stupid (yes Marvel comics movies im looking at you)

If you do really want to comment on storytelling and the like, you should read novels as other people have pointed out.

I will agree that an author who writes for actual novels is going to be on a higher level than one who only writes novels for movies.   But my thread was for movie and video game storylines aswell, not just book novels.


Sven

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2017, 03:43:39 PM »
No their not, Saturday is named after Saturn, a Roman god.  Monday is named after the moon, Sunday is named after the Sun.  Tuesday i dont know about.

Here is a wiki link you could have looked at.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_days_of_the_week

In summary however, we in the Anglo-sphere tend to use the Germanic tradition, which includes the moon and sun as deities.
You are mostly right about Saturday though.  The Celts and Saxons probably thought that sounded better.
Also, its not "Their", its "the're"
 
I never spelt her name like that either ;-)

I know, you spelt it wrong.

I agree thats true, but you asked me to name you history books i have and have read, and i did.  Theres more to the american civil war for example than what my second book mentioned covered.

There is undoubtedly more to everything than what is mentioned in a general history book. They are nice and fun, but just a brief overview. The point is you don't really know much at all. Just some general stuff that the majority of people would not find hard to pick up.
This does not demonstrate you as a serious reader, just a causal one.
A big point people are raising about you commenting on stories and storytelling is that being a big reader is a crucial part if you want to critic or opinion on this subject.
 

But isnt it good that im not just watching only the hot topic stuff?.  Lately im starting to give international cinema a go more than i use to, because i think hollywood movies are going downhill lately and are being too slow or too stupid (yes Marvel comics movies im looking at you)
I would have guessed that you thought that Hollywood films were getting better for that reason.

I will agree that an author who writes for actual novels is going to be on a higher level than one who only writes novels for movies.   But my thread was for movie and video game storylines aswell, not just book novels.

Rob, this is amazingly nonsensical. I mean I understand what you mean, but I am familiar with your thought processes and how you try to make yourself sound smart.
Authors do not "write for actual novels". Authors write books, passages, letters, any piece of writing basically.

You are the author of all of your internet posts, for instance. But in this context, Authors write novels, not for novels.

Novels for movies implies the novel adaption of a movie, which I know is not what you mean at all. You don't seem to understand what you are talking about is called a "screen play". Its more like a stage play, except, it is intended to be filmed.

If you start a thread with "What makes a good story/author" people will assume that you are intending on discussing stories in books or the written word. Because you have clearly mentioned author, which implies to everyone, the written word.

You could have just titled this "What makes a good story". And then you would not look slightly strange and confused by writing about stories in films.

bababarararacucucudadada

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2017, 05:20:32 PM »
Or better still "what makes a good film?" To which there really isn't an answer.

By way of an examplar I'm going to refer to a play (that's something like a film but happens live on a stage in front of an audience): Waiting For Godot written by Samuel Beckett.

Godot is a play in which pretty much nothing happens. This is not an accident. The whole piece is about nothing happening and the impact that the banal mundanity of nothingness might have on the wider human condition. In fact Beckett, long since deceased, was strict in enforcing certain conditions (known as stage directions) on any theatre company performing his play so that they did not jazz it up a bit and the Trust that controls his estate continues to rigourously police any productions of it to this day. Needless to say that despite the hopeful waiting Godot never arrives yet still they wait. Doing nothing, well virtually nothing, bar there being a chance encounter with a passing trader.

Is it a great play? Yes. Arguably the greatest ever written and certainly the most profoundly inspiring play (or film) that I have ever seen.

What makes it so? The writing.


Sven

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2017, 05:55:43 PM »
Or better still "what makes a good film?" To which there really isn't an answer.

By way of an examplar I'm going to refer to a play (that's something like a film but happens live on a stage in front of an audience): Waiting For Godot written by Samuel Beckett.

Godot is a play in which pretty much nothing happens. This is not an accident. The whole piece is about nothing happening and the impact that the banal mundanity of nothingness might have on the wider human condition. In fact Beckett, long since deceased, was strict in enforcing certain conditions (known as stage directions) on any theatre company performing his play so that they did not jazz it up a bit and the Trust that controls his estate continues to rigourously police any productions of it to this day. Needless to say that despite the hopeful waiting Godot never arrives yet still they wait. Doing nothing, well virtually nothing, bar there being a chance encounter with a passing trader.

Is it a great play? Yes. Arguably the greatest ever written and certainly the most profoundly inspiring play (or film) that I have ever seen.

What makes it so? The writing.

You are aware that Waiting for Godot would utterly baffle and confuse Guzman here?

A better example of a play for Guzman's level is Rosencrantz and Guilderstein are dead, by Tom Stoppard.
It is of course not a patch on Godot, but it does have an interesting and entertaining unabridged film adaption, staring Tim Roth, which I think Guz may be able to follow.

It is of course all about two minor characters from Hamlet, who seem to only be written into Hamlet in order to die.
I enjoyed Stoppards slick scripting, and the comments on human condition through the narrative and dialogue of the title characters.
I did study it for A-Level, so I know the play very well. And in comparison to Waiting For Godot, I do think that it would work as an entry level play for one such as Guz here to enjoy and hopefully be interested enough to explore more stage plays as a medium of story telling.

bababarararacucucudadada

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Re: What makes a good story writer/author?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2017, 08:40:35 PM »
To be fair I think Godot pretty much baffles and confuses everybody but what I feel it must universally do is make you think.

That can only be a good thing.